Robert Branney – St Austell

Former St Austell police officer Robert Branney caught with child sex abuse images again. 

Robert Branney was a child protection officer. 

A former Cornwall child protection police officer who was spared a jail sentence after being found with indecent images of children on his laptop has admitted similar charges.

Robert Branney, a former St Austell policeman, appeared at Plymouth Magistrates Court via video link with Bodmin police station yesterday (June 24) and pleaded guilty to the charges put to him.

The 70-year-old admitted that between March 30, 2016 and June 21, 2016 he made indecent images of children, namely 25 Category A still images – deemed the most severe – one Category A film, 36 Category B still images, and 197 Category C still images, the Plymouth Herald reports.

District Judge Diana Baker told Branney, of Treverbyn Gardens, St Austell, he would next appear at Truro Crown Court on August 25 for sentencing.

He was released on conditional bail until that date and ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register.

Branney, who retired 15 years ago after serving 28 years as a police officer, previously avoided jail at a sentencing hearing in May 2016 after he admitted three counts of possessing indecent images of children, making indecent photographs of a child and possessing an extreme pornographic images which involved an animal.

The court heard how he lived an online fantasy life in chat rooms and via webcams, inventing a daughter and granddaughter to fuel his discussions with “like-minded” men.

The Cornish Guardian reported Branney’s hearing last year.

The court heard that the girls featured in the images found on Branney’s laptop looked to be about six to eight years old. Two of the images involved penetrative sexual activity.

His defence barrister noted how Branney, a former president of St Austell Lions Club, had started looking at legal pornography and had “slipped into” looking at images of children.

In sentencing Judge Christopher Harvey Clark said Branney “obtained excitement by indulging in sexual fantasies online” and through chat rooms.

“That is not a crime and it may be that many do the same, but in your case you stepped over the permissible line: you started looking at indecent images of children.

“Looking at such images is illegal and immoral. It encourages people who make and distribute such images for financial gain to persuade children to pose and perform for their sexual gratification.

“I have asked myself how you could sink so low; you who were a child protection police officer.”

At his hearing Judge Harvey Clarke sentenced Branney to eight months’ imprisonment suspended for one year, adding that the former officer should leave the court “hanging your head in shame”.

The judge added that the publicity given to the case would continue to be “acutely embarrassing” for him and his family.

“No greater punishment can be passed by me than for you to see a mug shot of yourself on the front page of the local paper … with ‘child porn’ and ‘ex-child protection police officer’ linked together.”


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