A former Liberal Democrat council leader who admitted “appalling” child pornography offences was jailed for two years today.
Derek Osbourne, 59, who stepped down as leader of Kingston upon Thames, south west London, in June, was told that the public interest “cries out for custody”.
He was also told he must register as a sex offender for the next 10 years.
Judge Alistair McCreath, sitting at Southwark Crown Court, told him: “This imagery is of real children, suffering real abuse.
“Of course you did not perpetrate that abuse directly yourself, but you and others like you are complicit it, because without people to look at it, there would be no point in doing it.”
Osbourne was first elected as a councillor in 1986 before becoming leader between 1997 and 1998, and again in 2003.
He was parliamentary candidate for Kingston upon Thames in 1992, fighting the then chancellor Norman Lamont.
Osbourne, of Burlington Road, New Malden, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to seven counts of making indecent images of children, four counts of possession of indecent images of children and six counts of distributing indecent images of children.
The judge said he recognised in Osbourne’s favour that he had reached the age of nearly 60 without being convicted of any offence.
It also stood in his favour that he had for many years given service in public life.
“But on the other hand, those who by choice occupy a position of authority in public life, owe a duty to the public to behave to the highest of standards.”
He also gave him credit for his early plea of guilty, giving him a discount of a third.
The judge said he had to deal with him for downloading 2,844 still images, and 293 movies, of children.
“All these children were subjected to abuse of one kind or another, some of it truly appalling. It’s stomach turning.”
Some of the children were as young as three, he added.