August 2014

Ex-Highbridge Lib Dem councillor admits sex abuse on boys and gets community order

Joe Leach

A former Somerset councillor who admitted taking indecent images of two teenage boys and sexually assaulting one of them has been given a community order.

Joe Leach, 27, committed most of the offences while the teenage boys were asleep in his flat.

His crimes came to light when another boy looked at his computer.

A judge at Taunton Crown Court said there was a level of grooming behaviour but no purpose would be served by an immediate custodial sentence.

The court was told the offences happened between April 2011 and August 2012.

Leach’s sentence includes being supervised for three years, allowing police access to his camera for five years and signing the sex offenders register.

The former Liberal Democrat councillor on Sedgemoor District Council resigned from the authority in December 2012, citing a career change as the reason.

July 2014

Ex-Highbridge Lib Dem councillor admits seven child sex offences

A FORMER Highbridge Lib Dem councillor has admitted a number of sex offences against two boys.

Disgraced Joe Leach, 26, of Clyce Road, pleaded guilty to seven counts of taking an indecent image of a child between April 2011 and August 2012.

Leach, who stepped down as a town councillor in December 2012, faced at total of 12 charges but denied one count of sexual assault and four other counts of taking indecent photographs of a child when he appeared at Taunton Crown Court today (July 4).

Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and gold tie, Leach spoke only to confirm his name and enter pleas and was warned he faces jail.

Speaking after the hearing, Leach said that what he did was a “stupid mistake” and insisted: “It won’t happen again, but I will just have to pay for what I’ve done in the short term.”

The offences Leach admitted relate to two separate boys, while he denied all charges relating to an alleged third victim, also a boy.

Prosecutors now have a week to decide whether to accept Leach’s pleas or to pursue a trial on the five denied counts.

Judge David Ticehurst said: “In any event, I am going to order that a pre-sentence report should be prepared in relation to these matters you have pleaded guilty to. You must co-operate fully with the probation officer.

“Let me make it clear to you that all options are open to the judge that deals with you, including an immediate prison sentence.

“No promises are being held open to you by adjourning it for such a report.”

Leach was bailed until July 31 and was made to sign the sex offenders’ register before leaving court.