September 2006

Ex-leader given porn rehab order

The former leader of Dartford Borough Council has been given a three-year community rehabilitation order for downloading child porn.

Kenneth Leadbeater, 50, pleaded guilty before magistrates in June to 14 counts of making indecent images of children.

Police found 320 images of boys on a computer when they searched his home in Watermill Way, South Darenth, Maidstone Crown Court heard on Friday.

Leadbeater’s name is also to go on the sex offenders’ register for five years.

The court also ordered him to attend a programme for sex offenders and imposed an order allowing police to inspect any computer he owned four times a year for the next three years.

Prosecution lawyer Tanya Robinson told the court Leadbeater committed the offences for self-gratification and had “an addiction to binge viewing” pornography.

Defending, Helen Curtis said he started viewing the websites in 1999 when he was unemployed and at a low ebb.

He did not access them for a period until after a break-up from a long-term partner.

Leadbeater was arrested as part of an international operation to investigate child porn websites, the court heard.

He was traced because he had paid for the images using his credit card.

Judge Michael Lawson said he would spare Leadbeater jail because he had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, had suffered public humiliation and was of previously good character.

Leadbeater resigned as leader of the council in February soon after he was first questioned by Kent Police.

He resigned as Conservative councillor for Heath ward following his court appearance in June.

After the sentence was delivered, he said he was “very relieved” the proceedings were over.

He added he was “delighted” he would now be able to attend the opening of Dartford Football Club’s new stadium in November, for which he had fought politically.

“It’s been an interesting six months and I’m much more rested and healthy now than six months ago when I was overstressed. I hope to move forward.”