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Child porn charges - ex-Mayor disgraced

A DISGRACED former mayor of Hebden Royd has walked free after admitting downloading 1,000 child porn pictures.

Stewart Brown also distributed 10 of the sick images.

Some of the children were as young as four. Five of the pictures were rated level five – the most serious.

Brown, 60, of Nutclough, Hebden Bridge, was given a nine-month suspended sentence onTuesday.

He said the shame of the case had pushed him to the brink of suicide.

Brown, who was mayor in 2006, also admitted distributing 10 indecent images of youngsters under the user name Teenracer on an internet forum called Skooldays.

He was arrested in April last year after specialist police internet investigators discovered Brown on the site.

As well as viewing and downloading images, he also posted pictures of a 12-year-old schoolgirl he had stolen from the popular children's social networking site Bebo.

Michael Collins, prosecuting at Leeds Crown Court, said officers swooped on his Hebden Bridge home and confiscated computers, CDs and other digital material.

Of the images recovered, five were level five and 32 were level four.

Brown was interviewed at Halifax police station and told officers he had been downloading indecent material for a number of years and had developed an interest in schoolgirls.

Judge Alistair McCallum told him: "This is immense shame you have bought upon yourself.

"You had risen to a position of trust and would have been looked up to by people.

"What brought you to this situation I suppose you are still trying to work out for yourself.

"You could have hoped to go into retirement thoroughly lauded and respected for what you have achieved. Instead you have lost your reputation."

Bryan Ing, for Brown, said: "It is the biggest shame that could be bought upon someone and has left him with suicidal tendencies.

"What has happened has ruined his life and he has lost his good name as the mayor of Hebden Royd."

Brown will have his sentence suspended for two years and will attend a sex offender's treatment programme and be put on the sex offender register.

He must pay 1,200 costs.

Outside court, Det Con John Higgins who led the investigation, said: "Stewart Brown was a pillar of the community but he has contributed to the vile trade of images of child abuse."

After the court hearing Calder ward Calderdale councillor Janet Battye said: "I work in child protection and we mustn't forget that a number of children have been sexually abused in order to produce this pornographic material.

"I'm not at all certain that this punishment fits Stewart Brown's crimes, many people will feel that he has got off lightly given the damage that he has caused to children.

"I certainly feel that one of the functions of custody is for the protection of society and I hope that the Judge is assured that Stewart Brown does not pose a future risk to children.

"I hope that he is getting some help for his undoubtedly serious problems".

Brown was a Hebden Royd Town Councillor for more than 12 years, and represented the Calder Valley ward on Calderdale Council between 1996 and 2000.

The father-of-one is a retired senor environmental health officer and has represented a number of organisations including the Calderdale Green Forum, Calder Civic Trust, the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Hebden Bridge and District International Group.

He is also a former chairman of the Labour Party's Calder Valley branch.