A disgraced former Liberal Democrat councillor who behaved like “a predatory paedophile” has been given a suspended prison sentence for sexual offences against a teenage girl.
Bob Thompson, 60, who represented the Elland ward, hit the headlines in 2007 following his whirlwind marriage to a Gambian hotel worker half his age, but today (Thursday) his barrister said his fall from grace had left him socially isolated.
And the judge branded him “disgraceful, dirty and disgusting.”
Camille Morland, for Thompson, said following publicity about the sexual allegations windows of his then home were broken by members of the local community and he now lived alone in rented accommodation with only his three rescue dogs for company.
Bradford Crown Court heard today that Thompson, now of The Crescent, Stainland, was caught stroking the 13-year-old girl’s feet while she was asleep and also made sexual remarks to the teenager and her young boyfriend.
Prosecutor Sophie Drake said Thompson asked the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, to remove her knickers in exchange for a bacon sandwich and later said if she and her boyfriend wanted to have sex he would watch them.
The complainant, who is not a member of Thompson’s family, told police about the allegations back in 2013 and when Thompson was questioned he denied doing anything sexual and suggested that the remark about the knickers was said jokingly.
Thompson, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity at an early stage, but he only admitted another similar offence and a charge of sexual activity with a child on the day the complainant was to go to court for his trial.
In her victim impact statement the complainant said the offending had left her feeling upset and unsafe and she had been very nervous about coming to court.
Miss Morland said Thompson accepted that he had brought the situation on himself, but she pointed out that the offending took place over a short period of time.
She submitted that Thompson had said things that should not have been said, but the only incident of physical contact had involved touching the girl’s feet.
“This process has been a humbling and frightening process for him,” said Miss Morland. “A suspended sentence would serve to frighten him and remind him that he needs to curb his behaviour in the future.”
The court heard that Thompson suffered from various medical problems and Miss Morland said he would “flounder” in custody.
“Frankly he worries about his rescue dogs and what will happen to them if he goes into custody and he loses his tenancy,” she added.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC expressed dismay at Thompson’s continued lack of understanding about what he had done and the fact that he only admitted two of offences on the day of his trial.
Miss Morland said Thompson had suffered a long fall from grace and had difficulty confronting what was alleged against him.
Judge Durham Hall described Thompson as “acting like a predatory paedophile” at the time of the offending and said the complainant was a person of resolve and strength.
“She uses this word that you make her cringe when she thinks about what you did to her,” the judge told Thompson.
The judge said Thompson’s behaviour had been “disgraceful, dirty and disgusting”, but his medical ailments meant he would be eaten alive in prison.
“The local community has already taken the law into its own hands and it is for that reason judges must pass serious sentences in appropriate cases because people are rightly outraged when their children are preyed upon by perverts,” said the judge.
“The probation service cannot offer me a long sexual offender treatment programme because of your inability to confess to and confront your weakness,” he told Thompson.
“That, of course, in this case is exactly the order that I should impose and I cannot and it is all your fault.”
Instead the judge sentenced Thompson to two years in prison, suspended for two years, but he will be supervised by the probation service for 24 months.
Judge Durham Hall imposed a year-long electronically-tagged curfew which means Thompson must be at home between 6pm and 6am and he will now be subject to registration with the police as a sex offender for the next 10 years.
An indefinite sexual harm prevention order was also imposed which bans Thompson from having contact with the complainant and also prohibits him from having unsupervised contact with under 16s.