A FORMER Councillor has escaped jail for downloading thousands of child porn images.
Peter O'Brian, 46, formally of Drakes Way, Hatfield, was given a three year community order today at Cheshunt Magistrates Court and is attending rehabilitation for his sick addiction.
The ex-councillor pleaded guilty to 11 counts of making indecent images of children and two counts of possessing indecent images of children.
The paedophile was arrested at Stanstead Airport in October, after the images were discovered on a council computer while he was on holiday.
A police investigation revealed more than 6,000 images and movies on the laptop of the former chairman of Welwyn Hatfield Conservative Association and representative for Welham Green.
Detective Inspector Paul Doran, head of the Paedophile Unit, said: "We treat images depicting the abuse of children extremely seriously and will always take action against those responsible.
"Viewing or downloading images of this nature is not a victimless crime - those children have been exploited and are victims. "Despite O'Brien holding an important position in the community, he thought it was acceptable to view these images when it was clearly not.
"By admitting the offences he has gone some way in acknowledging his actions were unacceptable and he has made a positive step by attending a rehabilitation programme to manage his sexual interest."
O'Brien has also been given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans him from buying or using software which would remove evidence of his activity on a computer.
He has also been disqualified from working with children, fined £300 in costs and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' register.
Paul added: "I would like to express my thanks to Welwyn and Hatfield Council who have supported us through our investigation and I am grateful for their co-operation."