Former Kingston Council leader jailed for two years for possessing indecent images of children (From Surrey Comet)
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Former Kingston Council leader Derek Osbourne jailed for two years for possessing indecent images of children
Former Kingston Council leader Derek Osbourne has been sentenced to two years in prison for downloading and distributing indecent images of children.
The ex-Liberal Democrat leader, who had been a borough councillor for 27 years before his shock arrest at his home in Burlington Road, New Malden, in June, was jailed at Southwark Crown Court this morning.
The court heard how Osbourne, 59, used an Internet pseudonym, Dave Strider and Family, to distribute images depicting children aged between three and 10 being subjected to sexual abuse.
The material also featured images of adults involved in sexual behaviour with animals and violence against women.
He set up a Yahoo group headed by Dave Strider and his daughter 'Suzie', to share material with other paedophiles.
He distributed many of the images using Yahoo messenger.
Prosecutor Peter Zinner said Osbourne stored much of the material on memory sticks in a highly organised system "for ease of access and ease of distribution".
Osbourne, wearing a suit bearing a Remembrance poppy, sat stony faced in the dock as his offences were described.
Mr Zinner said: "This is a spectacular fall from grace for an individual that was in a position of significant public trust.
"The defendant was the leader of Kingston Borough Council at the time of the offending.
"He would have been responsible for the welfare of hundreds, if not thousands of children.
"In direct contradiction to the position of trust and responsibility he committed these abhorrent offences.
"He must have known that what he was doing would significantly contribute to the cycle of harm suffered by victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation."
Osbourne posed online as 'Dave Strider'
Mr Zinner said that Osbourne had used the identity of Dave Strider to disguise his activities.
He said: "Over the past two years having adopted that identity, indecent images of children were not only shared with like minded individuals but also stories and experiences between the parties were exchanged, with graphic descriptions of sexual violence against women and the encouragement and participation of children in these activities."
At the time of his arrest, he admitted to using the Internet to search for adult pornography over the past decade, but had gradually "progressed" to more extreme images of children, animals and violence against women.
Recorder of Westminister judge Alistair McCreath told the married father of two girls: "Those who by choice occupy a position of authority in public life have a duty to the public to behave in the highest of standards, and you did not.
"I acknowledge and recognise the effect on your family of what you have done, and the effect on them, innocent as they are, of the sentence I must impose on you."
Judge McCreath dismissed a submission by Osbourne's defence counsel that he was "progressing down the right channels" with regards seeking therapy for his criminal behaviour.
He said: "It is easy to say having read these reports that if this sentencing exercise was only about you and your therapeutic needs, then it is plain a non-custodial sentence would be correct.
"But this exercise is not only about you because I must have regard for a much wider public interest.
"I must deal with you in respect of the downloading 2,844 still images of children and these 293 movies of children, a significant quantity of which were at level four of level five.
"These phrases roll off the tongue, but what they mean is that all of these children were subjected to abuse of one kind or another, some of it truly appalling."
Judge McCreath described one particular image as "stomach-turning".
He told Osbourne: "I do not know what people who view these sort of images actually think.
"But it's important to say that these images are of real children suffering real abuse. These are not some sort of electronic construct - these are real children.
"Of course you did not perpetuate that abuse directly yourself, but you and others like you are complicit in it.
"Without people to look at it, there would be no need to do it, as above all, no point in creating images of it."
Judge McCreath said: "You had been downloading this material for many years. This was not done randomly.
"The material was stored and filed not on your hard drive but on memory sticks making it accessible to you and, if necessary, others.
"You created a blog in which you assumed a false identity and indulged in conversations with others of a deeply unpleasant nature, speaking directly of abuse of women and indirectly of abuse within the family.
"I recognise that there is no evidence at all that you have ever yourself misbehaved sexually with children, but these conversations paint a very disturbing picture of your attitude to these matters."
Osbourne nodded his head and picked up his bag before being escorted to the cells.
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