Published:
July 4, 2014
Former Highbridge councillor Joe Leach admits sex offences

A former Highbridge councillor has admitted a number of sex offences against two teenage boys in a court hearing on Friday (July 4th).

Joe Leach, 26, pleaded guilty to seven counts of taking an indecent image of a child between April 2011 and August 2012.

Mr Leach, who stepped down as a town councillor in December 2012, faced a total of 12 charges but has denied one count of sexual assault and four other counts of taking indecent photographs of a child when he appeared at Taunton Crown Court.

During the hearing, he spoke only to confirm his name and enter pleas and was warned that he could face a jail sentence.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Mr Leach said that what he had done was a "stupid mistake" and insisted: "It won’t happen again, but I will just have to pay for what I’ve done in the short term."

Although the ages of the victims were not mentioned during the hearing, he indicated afterwards that they were around the age of 17.

The offences that Mr Leach admitted to relate to two separate boys, while he denied all charges relating to an alleged third victim, who was also a boy.

Prosecutors now have two weeks to decide whether to accept his pleas or to pursue a trial on five denied counts.

Judge David Ticehurst said during Friday's hearing that he was going to order that a pre-sentence report should be prepared in relation to the matters that Mr Leach had pleaded guilty to. He was told that he must co-operate fully with the probation officer.

The judge added that he wanted to make it clear to Mr Leach that all options are open to the judge who deals with the case, including an immediate prison sentence. He said that no promises are being held open to Mr Leach by adjourning it for such a report.

Mr Leach was bailed until July 31st and was made to sign the sex offenders’ register before leaving court.

 


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