Former councillor assaulted teenage boy and taped it

Joe Leach. Photo:

Joe Leach. Photo: - Credit:

A FORMER councillor has been spared jail after videoing and photographing teenage boys while they slept.

Joseph Leach, who represented Highbridge on Sedgemoor District Council, pleaded guilty to nine charges of taking and possessing indecent images of children and one charge of sexual assault.

The incidents happened between April 2011 and August 2012 and involved 27-year-old Leach videoing and photographing a 16-year-old boy and another 17-year-old while they slept.

Prosecutor David Sapiecha told Taunton Crown Court at Leach’s sentencing on Wednesday when one of the victims was 16, Leach videoed himself performing sexual acts alongside the sleeping boy.

He said: “There are several images of that kind and there is an image of another victim, who was 17 years of age, and the defendant exposing his genitals above his head.

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“The defendant pulled the victim’s boxer shorts to the side to expose his genitals and took photographs.

“None of these boys had known this had occurred at the time.”

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Leach, of Clyce Road, who stood down from his council role in 2012, was uncovered when one of the victims discovered the photographs on his laptop. He saw a picture of himself, then noticed a folder called ‘hot photos’ which included images of boys, some of whom he recognised.

The court heard all images recovered from Leach’s laptop were deemed as level three on the indecent images bar – which runs from one to five, with five being the most severe.

Patrick Mason, defending, said: “He (Leach) lost his job in a bank as a consequence of this and is too proud to claim benefits, so he has run up a number of debts.

“He has now moved back in with his parents. Mr Leach is very, very sorry for doing what he did.”

His Honour Judge Eric Salomonsen said Leach ‘clearly has an unhealthy interest in young males’ but decided against imposing a suspended jail sentence as it would ‘not provide the supervision and training to ensure the risk of reoffending is reduced or negligible’.

He said: “Although you do not understand your motivation, there was a level of grooming behaviour which built up to these offences.

“Even if it was a wholly innocent friendship between you, you went further than that and abused the friendship and abused your position of trust.

“You’re an intelligent man who needs to put these offences behind you.”

Leach was given a community order with a supervision requirement of 36 months, ordered to take the Thames Valley sex offenders’ programme for up to 60 days and given a prohibitive activity requirement of 36 months. This would prevent him, if living alone, from allowing a person under the age of 18 to enter his address.

Leach was also handed a sexual offenders prevention order for five years, has signed the sex offenders register for five years and ordered to pay £670 in court costs.

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