September 2011


A registered sex offender who downloaded child porn took a selection of reptiles into a Carlisle primary school to give a talk.

Philip Kerwood took pet snake Monty, iguana Acmed and tortoise Norman into Cummersdale School after the children had learned about zoos in a literacy class.

The News & Star can reveal that Mr Kerwood appeared at Carlisle Crown Court on June 22 this year and admitted three out of six charges of making indecent photographs of children. He had been accused of having 44 child porn pictures on his computer. They were rated as level one, the least serious form of child pornography. A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said the court ordered the other three offences to lie on file.

She said Mr Kerwood, from Scalegate Road, Upperby, Carlisle, was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to be on the sex offenders’ register for two years. His computer was confiscated and destroyed and he was also ordered to pay £1,200 court costs.

Mr Kerwood’s visit to the school on Tuesday came after his niece approached infant teacher Sarah Barratt following a story Class 2 at the Zoo, and said her uncle had a pet snake. She offered to ask him to bring his reptiles to the reception class and pupils in years one and two, aged between four and seven.

Mr Kerwood told the News & Star that he was at the school just to hold the animals.

“I saw no harm in it,” he said. “I’m not banned from working with children or anything like that.

“My sister is the parent of one of the children in the class and the mother of another knows all about it [the conviction].”

He said the terms of the sex offenders’ register did not require him to inform the school of his conviction.

He did ‘not really’ understand why parents would be concerned, he said.

A spokesperson for Cumbria Police said they had been made aware of concerns raised by parents about a registered sex offender going into school.

“We monitor sex offenders closely and on this occasion he did not breach any terms of the register,” she said.

“However, in light of the concerns raised, we will be going to speak to the individual about the incident.”

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said one-off, non regular visitors, who were accompanied at all times, were not required to have their criminal records checked.

He said schools in the county followed national Department for Education guidelines when safeguarding children.

Cummersdale headteacher Gareth Jones said: “At no time during this visit was the individual left alone with children and the national guidelines were followed.

“This was a one-off visit and he was accompanied at all times. He did not have to be CRB checked before he came in.

“We appreciate the distress this may have caused and if any parents have any concerns or want to discuss the matter further they should contact me at the school.”