Update: A council children’s services officer who made indecent images of youngsters is to have his sentence reviewed amid complaints it was lenient. The Attorney General’s Office said 12 people had complained following the sentencing on Friday.

The case will now be reviewed to see whether it can be considered under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme. Under the scheme the Attorney General can make an application to the Court of Appeal to have the sentence increased.

August 2013

Council officer spared jail for indecent images of children

finlay

A senior officer working in children’s services has been spared a prison term after he admitted making more than 600 indecent images of children.

Robert Finlay, 53, of Barnes Crescent, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of making the images between January 2009 and April.

He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, at Bournemouth Crown Court.

The NSPCC’s Jon Brown said jail would have sent a “much stronger message”.

The court heard 94 of the 601 images were rated at level four and five – the most serious.

Finlay was placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

‘Dreadful pictures’

He was also made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order which includes preventing him from using any device capable of accessing the internet, unless it can store internet history or is made available on request to the police.

Finlay was dismissed from his post as children’s services programme leader at Bournemouth Borough Council.

Jon Brown, head of strategy for sexual abuse at children’s charity NSPCC, said a suspended sentence was “not enough” for the “incredibly huge haul of dreadful pictures”.

“A jail term would have sent a much stronger message that this is a very serious crime,” he said.

Jane Portman, council executive director for children and adults, said she was “surprised” at the suspended sentence.

She added: “This has been a difficult time for all those in children’s services and many in the wider council.

“This brings closure of the matter and allows everyone to move on.”

July 2013

Education official admits child abuse image charges

A senior education official at Bournemouth Council has admitted making more than 600 indecent images of children.

Robert Ian Finlay, 53, of Barnes Crescent, East Howe, pleaded guilty to 17 offences committed between January 1 2009 and January 10 this year.

Nearly 100 images have been described by prosecutors as the “highest level of indecency.”

He will be sentenced on August 16.

Finlay, wearing a smart shirt and tie, admitted all charges during a five-minute hearing before Judge John Harrow.  No details of the offences were given but the circumstances are likely to be outlined at the sentencing hearing.

Indecent pictures of children are rated between one and five with level one images said to be the least serious and level five the most serious.

The charges related to 328 level one images, 23 level two, 156 level three, 86 level four and eight level five.

Judge Harrow warned Finlay he is now a convicted sex offender and must report to police.

Finlay has now been fired from his duties at Bournemouth council and also resigned from a position as a governor at The Bourne Academy in West Howe.

According to his online CV he taught at the Epiphany Primary school in Muscliffe during the 1990s and at Winton Primary school between 1994 and 2004, where he was the school’s ICT co-ordinator.

Jane Portman, Executive Director for Adults’ & Children’s Services said: “This has been a difficult time for all those in Children’s Services and many in the wider Council, with staff genuinely shocked and stunned that one of their own colleagues has committed such serious crimes. 

“We have robust recruitment processes in place at the Council and full background checks, including Criminal Records Bureau disclosures, are made on any individual coming to work in Children’s Services. The case was no different with this individual, who came back with a clean record.   

“As soon as the matter was brought to our attention Mr Finlay was immediately suspended from his post. He was subsequently dealt with through to the Council’s disciplinary proceedings and been dismissed.

“The Council remains committed to the safeguarding of our children and young people and continues to work closely with the Police and other agencies on investigations to root out all activity which places children at risk.”