December 2017

Man sexually assaulted girl, 3, and silenced her by saying the police were ‘the bad guys’

An Exeter man has been jailed for 11 years for sexually assaulting a three-year-old girl.

Andrew Berry, 45, of Rifford Road, denied two counts of assaulting a child under 13 by penetration but the jury at Exeter Crown Court took just 40 minutes to convict him.

The judge sentencing him at Exeter Crown Court described the offences as ‘grotesque’ and said he appeared to show no emotion for the trauma he had inflicted.

After the hearing police praised the courage of the child for coming forward and telling police what had happened.

The trial had heard that Berry tried to silence the child by telling her that the police were ‘bad guys’ and could not be trusted.

A victim personal statement by the child’s mother was read to the court.

It described the psychological impact of Berry crimes.

She said Berry had ‘stolen her childhood innocence’ and left her with psychological scars for the rest of her life.

The court was told Berry had a previous conviction for possessing indecent pictures of children dating back to 2004.

He had also breached the terms of his notification requirements in the past.

Recorder Martin Meeke QC said Berry’s crimes had caused the child significant distress and she had taken time to tell anybody what happened.

“You told her not to talk to anybody about it and it was a secret and that the police were the bad guys,” he said.

“You were well aware you had hurt her and damaged her. Despite the evidence you contested this prosecution. As I watched you as you listened to her interviews with police I saw not a hint of concern. Your lies to the jury were brazen.

“There are no mitigating features at all.

“The starting point is eleven years. I see no basis on which I should set the penalty below that figure.”

The judge imposed an extra 12 months which Berry must serve on licence when he is released.

He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to limit his contact with children in future and sign the Sex Offender Register for life.