A former chairman of West Yorkshire Police Authority has been jailed for 32 months after building up what a judge described was a “library” of child abuse images.

Neil Taggart, 65, a city councillor for more than 30 years and also former Lord Mayor of Leeds was also chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority between 1998 and 2003.

Today his life is in tatters and his reputation disgraced as he was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Leeds Combined Courts, Crown Court
Leeds Combined Courts, Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court heard officers executed a search warrant at his home in Garforth, Leeds on September 23 last year while he and his family were abroad on holiday.

They seized a desktop computer, five hard drives and two USB memory sticks on which more than 35,000 indecent images had been downloaded.

Files recovered also showed he had shared some of the images with other perverts and chatted online and in phone calls with some of them.

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Taggart admitted three charges of making indecent images of children, three of distributing indecent images, one charge of possessing prohibited images and one of possessing extreme pornography.

Anthony Dunne, prosecuting, said 5,488 images including 856 movies were found at Category A, the most serious involving adults and children as young as four and one involving a baby aged eight to 12 months.

There were also 4,580 still and moving images at category B and 25,935 at Category C. Also found were 30 images involving adults and animals classified as extreme pornography and 431 indecent computer images, some dating back to 2010. Deleted data suggested it might have gone back to 2007.

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Jailing Taggart, Judge Robin Mairs said his offending had gone on for a prolonged period.

He said: “Behind those arithmetical totals the reality was this, they were children, pre-pubescent children, one was a baby eight to 12 months, who were subjected to penetrative sexual activity with adults. Girls described as aged four to six years of age.”

He said some of the children were shown in pain, in distress, restrained or gagged.

He added: “You describe how your sexual fantasies or desires were just that fantasies and that they were not real life. Well what makes this offending so serious is that those images were real, they featured real children who suffered real pain and will have to live with the real trauma that created.

“Those images are made and distributed because people like you want to see them and want to see them for your own sexual gratification. These are not offences of fantasy they are offences that cause real pain and real suffering.”

Leeds Combined Courts, Crown Court.

The judge said images he had distributed were also “of a depraved quality” showing children, some under five, receiving similar in return.

“This was the creation of a library of images of abuse,” the judge said. “This was extreme material even by the standards of the depraved scale that exists.

“I accept both your personal and public reputation, which at one time was so high in this city, now effectively lies in the gutter.”

Stephen Wood, representing Taggart, urged the court to take into account his many years of public service.

He said: “These convictions have utterly destroyed the personal reputation he had built over those 30 years of service.”

He said Taggart acknowledge his “deviant sexual interest” in looking at images and had stressed to police he had no interest in turning to reality. He did however realise the impact on each child depicted and expressed full remorse.

He had been diagnosed with a rare cancer and treatment was only now aimed at stabilising his condition not curing it.

Taggart became Lord Mayor of Leeds in 2003.