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Ex-council chief escapes jail over child porn

Kenneth Leadbeater admitted 14 charges of downloading child porn at Maidstone Crown Court
Kenneth Leadbeater admitted 14 charges of downloading child porn at Maidstone Crown Court

A FORMER council leader has escaped a jail sentence for downloading child porn.

Kenneth Leadbeater, the former chief of Dartford Borough Council, was sentenced to a three-year community rehabilitation order after he admitted 14 charges of downloading child pornography, amounting to more than 300 images, on Friday.

He will have to sign on to the sex offenders’ register for five years and police officers can arrive unannounced at his home in Water Mill Way, Sutton-at-Hone, up to four times a year to check his computer equipment as part of a sexual offences prevention order imposed by Judge Michael Lawson.

Judge Lawson told Leadbeater: "You leave this court with a stain on your character. You have been convicted of offences which cause revulsion in many people."

Leadbeater arrived at Maidstone Crown Court dressed casually in black jeans, grey jumper and brown shoes, carrying a small rucksack and carrier bag.

After the hearing, he said: "I’m very relieved that these proceedings are concluded. It has been an interesting six months.

"I look much more rested and healthy than six months ago, when I was over-stretched and over-worked, and I’m looking forward to attending the opening of Dartford Football Club."

Leadbeater stepped down as the leader of Dartford council in February, when the police investigation into his life began.

Det Con Peter Wakerly, the officer leading the case, said: "This was part of on-going inquiries into internet related crime involving child abuse images.

"Kent Police is committed to dealing vigorously with this type of offence."

* Full story in next week's Dartford Messenger.* What do you think of the sentence? Email dartfordmessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk

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