Teaching assistant who walked away with a suspended sentence now receives an immediately imposed two year sentence after prosecution appeal the case.

On 30 September 2015, we wrote about Caroline Berriman, the 30 year old teaching assistant who walked away with a suspended sentence after admitting two counts of sexual activity with a child.

The suspended sentence had been justified by reference to Berriman’s young daughter and the fact that she had pleaded guilty, both being considered mitigating factors. Meanwhile Berriman’s victim had been left ‘scarred’.

Many criticised the sentence as being unduly lenient, emphasising that Berriman had abused a position of trust and responsibility in engaging in a sexual relationship with a 15 year old boy. Such an abuse of position is undeniably a serious offence, regardless of age or sex, yet concerns were that had Berriman been a man who had pleaded guilty to the abuse of a girl, the sentence would have been much more severe.

It is reassuring to note that the Court of Appeal did not apply these double standards in their consideration of the case. Lord Justice Treacy found that ‘the purpose of the legislation is to protect young people from harm, at times protecting them from their own urges and inclinations’, and in doing so, removed any consideration of the age and sex of the offender, instead relying simply on the offence that had been committed and finding that Berriman had in fact put a young person at harm.

Berriman’s original sentence was quashed at the Court of Appeal, and an immediate two year sentence was imposed instead. It is encouraging to see that in this case, justice has been achieved.

At Jordans, our specialist team of abuse lawyers continue to fight for justice for the victims of abuse. If you would like any further information on how our experienced lawyers could help you, you can contact us in confidence on 0800 9555 094.

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