A FORMER campaign manager for the Conservative Party has been handed a suspended sentence following a string of child abuse image offences.
Mark Lerigo, aged 49, pleaded guilty in July at Warwick Crown Court to distributing indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent images of children, one count of possessing extreme pornography involving animals, one count of possessing prohibited images of children and one count of publishing an obscene article.
He was handed a 24 month jail term, suspended for two years, and received a ten year sexual harm prevention order, at a hearing at Warwick Crown Court today (August 21).
Lerigo was also placed on the sex offenders register for ten years, following the National Crime Agency investigation.
The former Tory campaign manager, who until recently had worked as a press officer for the Conservatives in the West Midlands, was also ordered to follow four month electronic curfew between the hours of 8pm and 6am; to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £670 in costs.
The National Crime Agency found Lerigo, from Coventry, had an iPad containing 1,005 illegal images including 146 category A- the most serious- abuse pictures of children, and 258 images of extreme pornography.
He also had a laptop containing evidence of 414 illegal images – including 59 category A images.
Graham Ellis, NCA operations manager, said: “Offenders who view indecent images are fuelling more and more sexual abuse of children.
“Every time an abuse image is shared or viewed the child is revictimised.
“Child sexual abuse is a priority threat for the NCA. It doesn’t matter what walk of life an offender is from, we will do everything in our power to catch them.”
Child protection charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the Stop It Now! helpline which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.
Anyone concerned a crime has been committed against a child should contact the police on 101. For child safety advice go to Thinkuknow.co.uk