Former Newfoundland priest reportedly changes pleas in child sexual exploitation case; trial expected to be replaced by sentencing

Saltwire Network [Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada]

March 3, 2022

By Tara Bradbury

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Former Anglican priest Robin Barrett’s latest trial for child pornography offences is expected to be cancelled Friday morning, March 4, as he changes his pleas to guilty.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place instead for Barrett, 61, who is charged with accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

It will be Barrett’s second time being sentenced for child pornography crimes. He pleaded guilty in 2010 to similar offences after police found thousands of images and videos of the material on his computer. He was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Barrett was arrested again in 2015 after members of a joint Royal Newfoundland Constabulary/RCMP team of investigators received information from Ontario police about Barrett’s alleged participation in downloading and sharing child pornography online. Investigators knocked on his door and got no answer before using a battering ram to break the door down, finding Barrett in the hallway in a bathrobe. As RNC Const. Terry Follett went with Barrett to the living room, other officers began searching for electronics, which civilian forensics experts then reviewed on site.

Police say Barrett’s desktop computer screen had active photos of child exploitation, photos of adult nudity, a chat log, a folder entitled “Randy Rob” — reportedly a username Barrett had used in the past — and files in the process of downloading with names that referenced child exploitation. Police also allegedly found USB drives, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and floppy disks, a laptop, a camera and novels dealing with child pornography.about:blank

Follett read Barrett his rights, and Barrett indicated he wanted to speak with a lawyer. He asked if he could get dressed, so Follett accompanied him to his bedroom. There, the officer asked Barrett how long he had been downloading child pornography and where he had served his previous sentence.

Months after Barrett was charged, Follett called to invite him to RNC headquarters to answer questions about an alleged roommate; Barrett originally agreed before declining on the advice of a lawyer. Follett later went to Barrett’s house unannounced and Barrett answered his questions there.

Last year, Barrett made an application to the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court to have evidence excluded from trial on the grounds that Follett had breached his rights both times he had questioned him, as well as when he and other officers broke down the door by not following the “knock and announce” rule and not waiting long enough before using the battering ram. Justice Rosalie McGrath dismissed Barrett’s application, finding Barrett’s rights had been breached only when Follett questioned him off-the-cuff while the search of his home was happening.

This was the second time the court has ruled on the admissibility of the evidence. Barrett was acquitted of the same charges in June 2018, when a judge ruled all evidence seized after Follett had questioned Barrett before he had spoken to counsel was inadmissible. The province’s Court of Appeal later determined the original judge had erred by deciding on the issue before counsel had finished their submissions and ordered Barrett a new trial.

Prosecutor Shawn Patten and defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan are expected to present their submissions on an appropriate sentence for Barrett Friday.