A PARISH councillor has narrowly avoided jail after he admitted to a doctor that he had been looking at child pornography.
John Butcher told his doctor during a counselling session for depression that he had been downloading the perverted images on his computer and was worried he was ‘getting worse’.
And the Boarhunt parish councillor also admitted stalking a female colleague where he volunteered at the Watercress Line, the famous steam train run.
Police raided his home in Trampers Lane, North Boarhunt, near Fareham, on January 21 this year and confiscated several items of computer equipment, including hard drives and memory sticks.
He was arrested on the same day.
Analysis by experts revealed about 400 images of child abuse on the computers – 48 of these were at level four, one level below the very worst kind of images.
The majority of the images were found to be at levels two and three.
At Fareham Magistrates’ Court, Butcher pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to eight counts of making indecent photos of a child and two counts of possessing indecent photos of a child.
Prosecutor Huw Morgan said: ‘He gave a statement saying he was getting worse in terms of downloading children, but he didn’t believe any [of the images] were at level four or five.’
Tim Sparkes, defending, said Butcher had been hugely sorry for his actions and had been seeking medical help for his problems since his arrest.
‘Of course he’s remorseful for his family as well,’ he added.
‘He’s wrecked their lives. He’s 63 years old, a pillar of society, and he’s wrecked all that.’
Mr Sparkes said Butcher’s wife was also standing by him – she attended the court hearing with him. He said Butcher’s wife had told him: ‘If I thought there was a risk of repetition, even after 42 years of marriage, it would be curtains for him.’
Butcher had been of previous good character.
He was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail for each count, to run concurrently, suspended for two years. He was also put on a two-year supervision order with a mental health requirement.
And he has had to go on the sex offenders’ register for seven years.