An ex-councillor caught downloading indecent images of children walked free from court after a judge said he had ‘contributed’ to society.
Andrew Lamont, 53, copied 207 images of girls as young as eight to his computer, 27 of which were level four, the second most serious level.
Lamont, who served as a governor of St Anne’s Nursery School in North Kensington, also viewed thousands of extreme images involving animal pornography stored on an Apple computer and hard disk drive, Isleworth Crown Court heard on Monday (2).
Police raided his home in November 2010 after his now ex-wife, Sue McGregor, told police she discovered a magazine containing indecent images of children, hidden in a shoebox in the bedroom of their home.
The former Conservative councillor for Norland ward, who is partially sighted, used software to magnify the pictures so he could look at them.
A jury of five women and seven men took six hours and 25 minutes to convict Lamont of four counts of downloading indecent images of children and four counts of possessing extreme pornography involving animals.
He was cleared of a single count of possessing the magazine featuring indecent images of children, which Miss McGregor claimed she found, and five further counts of possessing extreme pornographic material.
Sentencing Lamont to a six month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and fining him £20,000, Judge Andrew Johnson said: “Those who make photographs of children go to prison.
“There were level four photographs of children which is an extremely high level, just short of sadistic photographs of children.
“The public has an obvious revulsion, quite rightly, of those who use computers for their own sexual gratification by downloading such images.
“So far as the extreme pornography is concerned, given your background it’s extraordinary you have possessed these images, which are obviously revolting as well.
“But I have to take into account that, very unusually in this case, you suffer from a disability although it hasn’t stopped you from committing these offences.
“You have also contributed to society by being in employment and public service.” Lamont showed no emotion as the verdict or sentence were delivered.
Michael Magarian, defending, urged the judge to spare Lamont from a prison sentence.
He said: “I suggest Mr Lamont is perhaps a bit naïve, unworldly, but essentially he is a nice, amiable man. This is a man of impeccable character, who had Labour and Conservative politicians who have served with him queueing up to say ‘this is a man of integrity.’
“Because of his disability, a custodial sentence may be particularly harsh and oppressive for him. It would be a thousand pities if on top of all the public stigma he has sustained, he would also be imprisoned.”
Lamont resigned as councillor for Norland ward in North Kensington last year, on the eve of his first court appearance, after first being elected in 2006.
He and Miss McGregor married in 1997 before divorcing last year.
In his police interview, he claimed his poor eyesight meant he rarely knew what he was looking at on a computer screen, and must have accidentally bought the magazines when he was on holiday in Amsterdam 25 years ago.
Lamont, of Swanscombe Road, Notting Hill, denied possessing indecent images of children, four counts of making indecent images, and nine counts of possessing extreme pornography.
He was also ordered to pay £5,270 costs and must sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.