BC MCFD Worker Has Sexual Charges Thrown Out due to time delay
British Columbia, Edward Owen Berry, age 55, was arrested December 2014 after a fire ran through the apartment building that he was living in. A restoration worker came across a tablet computer and discovered disturbing images and turned the device into the police. RCMP then issued search warrants and seized a laptop, another tablet and an external hard drive which contained 600-800 pornographic images and 120 videos.
The content on these devices was mostly teenage boys, some of whom were younger youths. Most of these images were considered “at the lower end of the scale”. However, other images did portray sexual acts with a minor. In his search history, it was found that he frequented a site where explicit stories of young boys were constantly being posted.
Berry was charged with possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography. At the sentencing hearing in 2018, he was found guilty but only sentenced to 2 years of jail time and eight months of probation. An interesting topic was raised at the hearing. Berry had previously served as a manager for the Ministry of Child and Family Development in B.C.
As the Crown Prosecutor pointed out, his job essentially made him the guardian of several children, which made him a danger. But Berry’s Defence Attorney, Johnathon Desbarats, argued that none of the files found depicted children in his care. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale agreed with both sides but commented that, “Mr. Berry’s moral culpability is high,” given the fact that because of his work he fully understands the impact that pornography has on its victims.
Oddly enough, both the Crown Prosecutor and Defense asked for a low range sentence as their overall interactions with Berry had shown them that he was an “"otherwise upstanding person". Apparently, he had a low risk to reoffend and was found to have done alot to aid the lives of others.
Stepping back slightly to 2016, Berry was charged with sexual assault, sexual interference with a person under 16, and exposing himself to a person under 16. Desbarats had applied for the charges to be dropped in January 2018 due to unreasonable delay. Judge Brian Daley found that Desbarats had added the days served to have a total of 950 days of incarceration without sentencing, which would have more than exceeded the limit set in place by the Supreme Court of Canada for provincial cases.
This time limit is 18 months or 547 days. However, Daley subtracted 378 days because of defense, and 51 days for Transitional Cases Criteria. This only left Berry with 521 days, 26 days short of the limit.
Over the next few years Berry had several sentencing hearings scheduled, but all of them were adjourned for one reason or another. There were problems with uncooperative witnesses, trouble with the courtroom video system, the Crown Prosecutor was busy on the scheduled dates, other cases that needed to be heard, and lastly, Desbarats filed a pre application for disclosure of medical and psychiatric records.
This final delay was the icing on the cake and pushed the sentencing date back even farther. This ultimately allowed Desbarats to reapply for a dismissal of charges at the end of 2019. It was found that this trial had indeed been going on without sentencing for 54 months, which far exceeds the 18 month limit.
In March 2020, Berry’s sexual assault charges were dropped. In short, this reduced his jail time to his original sentence for his pornography charges; two years of incarceration followed by eight months of probation. Even though most prisoners only serve a percentage of their jail time, Berry still has yet to be released but his two years are almost up and he should be getting released soon without any justice for his victims.