A former press officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been jailed for online child sex abuse offences and possessing hundreds of pornographic images and videos involving minors.
Richard Arcari, of Clapham, south London, was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment at Inner London Crown Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to 22 charges of including making indecent images of children, possessing extreme pornographic images, possessing class A drugs and intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an “either way” offence.
In addition to the jail term, Arcari will be put on the sex offenders register indefinitely and given a sexual harm prevention order aimed at restricting his use of the internet.
The National Crime Agency said investigations into 37-year-old Arcari’s laptops and digital storage equipment revealed he had 716 category A stills and videos – the most serious kind – 588 category B stills and videos and 344 category C stills and videos.
Arcari – who is still listed as a planning and grid offer on the Government Communications Service website – came to the attention of NCA officers investigating an online conferencing room where child abuse was streamed, before he started working at Defra.
He was arrested and bailed in February 2017 after intelligence suggested he had watched child sexual abuse videos and had offered to swap videos with other offenders.
Arcari told officers he visited the conferencing room to watch male pornography, but could not remember what he had viewed or streamed because of his crystal meth habit.
According to Arcari’s LinkedIn profile, he worked at Defra between September 2017 and November last year.
The NCA said that in September last year Defra notified it that a routine security check on Arcari’s laptop had discovered an unauthorised memory stick had been inserted with file titles that indicated they were indecent images of children.
The department handed the laptop over to the NCA and a further search of the press officer’s home resulted in the confiscation of a USB. Both items contained more abuse images.
NCA operations manager Graham Ellis said Arcari was known to have been visiting online conference rooms to watch child abuse since November 2015.
“Even when he had been arrested and was on bail he continued to offend,” he said.
“Every time footage is replayed or an image reshared, that child is revictimised. There is no greater priority for us than protecting children.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “We can confirm Richard Arcari worked for Defra from December 2017 after passing required pre-employment checks.
“He was suspended pending investigation on 7th September 2018 and was formally dismissed on 30th October 2018.”
Arcari’s LinkedIn profile suggests he worked for Defra on a freelance basis from September to November 2017.
The most recent role listed is as a media manager for an NHS trust.