NEIGHBOURS have hit out after a paedophile who was caught with a stash of child pornography was allowed to walk free from court.
Adam Eastoe, of Haughton Crescent, West Denton, pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to 15 charges of making indecent images of children.
He further admitted possessing 162 photographs of children found after police arrested him late last year.
It came after officers seized his computer and discovered he had been downloading scores of child sex images.
But the 36-year-old escaped a stint behind bars and was instead given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years, with two years’ supervision.
But the sentence has provoked outrage from former friends and residents on his home street in West Denton.
Dad-of-three Ian Proud, 46, who has known Eastoe for more than 10 years and was best man at his wedding two years ago, said the local community was disgusted.
The former councillor, who lives with his partner Karen and children Daniel, 11, Jack, eight, and Aimee, three, said: “It doesn’t make sense – the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. We’re a really close-knit community round here and Adam was part of that, which is why it was such a shock when we found out.
“We had barbecues together and everyone looked out for each other, so you can imagine how let-down we feel by what kind of person he turned out to be. We all went to court to see him get sentenced and he never once looked at any of us in the eye.
“He denied it to us all at first and said it was some kind of mistake, but then he admitted it in court.
“It is worrying when you have young children and the fact he’s not going to prison for what he’s done is a real kick in the teeth for us – we don’t want him on the street. It just doesn’t make sense.
“I don’t think people appreciate that this kind of thing affects the whole community, not just Adam.
“At the end of the day, we’re concerned parents and we’re extremely cheesed-off at his sentence – people who don’t pay their council tax can get the same sentence as what he did and they’re just people in financial difficulty.”
Sarah Gaish, 32, who lives on the street with her two children Dylan, 10, and Georgia, five, added: “My kids were bridesmaid and page boy at Adam’s wedding and it makes me feel sick to know what we do now about him.
“There is a green near my house where the children like to play in the summer, but it’s right on Adam’s doorstep and I don’t know how comfortable I would be with letting my kids on there on their own.
“It’s unfair that I feel I have to tighten the leash on my children because of something Adam did. He should be in prison – I’m appalled at the sentence he was given.”
Eastoe was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for seven years and banned from accessing a computer or the internet for five years except where he needs it for employment reasons. The forfeiture of his computer was also ordered.