Former Herts County Council legal chief sentenced on child porn charges

PUBLISHED: 12:12 20 April 2011

Justice

Justice

Archant

A FORMER top council boss caught with over 5,000 child pornography images fantasised about having sex with children on internet chatrooms, a court heard this week.

Lawyer Andrew Laycock, the former Head of Legal Services at Hertfordshire County Council, chatted with other paedophiles on MSN.

On Tuesday 59-year-old Laycock escaped jail after a judge heard that he had been attending courses to help him overcome his long-term perversion.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw told St Albans Crown Court that police armed with a search warrant raided the home Laycock shared with his wife and two stepsons in at 6.45am on 22 June last year.

Laycock, who had answered the door, said he was responsible for the images and nobody else.

His Apple Mac computer was analysed and found to contain images, mostly of young girls aged between 10 and 14.

4,634 were at Level 1, 121 at Level 2, 516 at Level 3, 370 at Level 4 and 79 at Level 5 - the most serious level.

All were images and none were movies. In total there were 5,720 images.

In a police interview Laycock confessed that his dark secret had gone on since he was a teenager.

“He said he had interacted with other adults on MSN Messenger and had talked to other adults about having sex with children. He admitted the fantasies involved children as young as seven or eight,” said Mr Shaw.

Laycock of Mandeville Road, Hertford, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 17 counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing more than 5,700 indecent images during June last year.

He was supported by his wife in the public gallery at the court.

Dee Connolly, defending, said Laycock had taken police advice at the time of his interview and attended courses at the Lucy Faithful Foundation that aims to rid people of their addiction to child sex abuse images.

She said: “He was extremely full and frank in his admissions and took the offer to get help. He is deeply ashamed of his behaviour.”

Judge Andrew Bright QC told him: “You built your reputation up as a lawyer and have rightly lost it as a result of what you were secretly doing.”

The judge gave him credit for his guilty plea and passed a 26-week jail sentence suspended for two years with two years supervision and a condition that he attends an Internet Sex Offenders Treatment Programme.

He must register as a sex offender for seven years and abide by the terms of a Sex Offender Treatment programme.

After the hearing CPS prosecutor, Robbie Weber, said: “Mr Laycock, who is now retired, had previously held the role of Head of Legal Services at Hertfordshire County Council, until October 2009.

“His crimes commenced whilst he worked for the council, however there is no evidence to suggest that any of the offences were committed whilst he was at work.

“The defendant’s home computer was seized as part of the investigation and thoroughly analysed, using the latest computer technology.

“Mr Laycock realised how strong the evidence was against him and has admitted his crimes before the court.”


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