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NSPCC says lenient sentence for child sex offence teacher shows gap in law (19 January 2015)

Date: 19/01/2015
Duncan Lewis, Child Care Solicitors, NSPCC says lenient sentence for child sex offence teacher shows gap in law

Child protection groups are calling for a change in sentencing review rules, after a 44-year-old married teacher received an 18-month suspended sentence for breaching a position of trust when he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old pupil.

The Independent reports that Religious Education teacher Stuart Kerner – a teacher at Bexleyheath Academy in south London – received the suspended sentence after Judge Joanna Greenberg QC told the court that Kerner had been “groomed” by the 16-year-old girl.

Following calls for a review of the sentence, the Attorney General Jeremy Wright said he had no powers to ask the courts to review the case.

A public backlash claimed that Kerner had been treated too leniently by the court – and the girl at the centre of the case had been assigned some of the blame for the affair.

The NSPCC said that the Attorney General’s lack of powers to order a review had flagged up a gap in the law.

Kerner pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual activity with a child and will be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register – but the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said the case did not fall under the remit of a scheme which can be used to send cases involving a too-lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal.

The AGO said in a statement:

“Mr Kerner’s crimes are not included in this scheme, meaning the law officers are unable to refer this.

“However, it is important the public can challenge what they believe to be exceptionally low sentences.

“We have been looking at whether the scope of the scheme is right.”

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has launched an inquiry into comments made by Judge Greenberg in court.

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