Ex-councillor guilty in child porn case

A FORMER town councillor has been warned he could face a jail sentence after being found guilty of downloading child porn onto his computer.Mabon Dane stared impassively at the jury as the foreman read out a unanimous guilty verdict to 16 charges of making indecent photos of children and one of possessing indecent photos of children between January and June 2004.

A FORMER town councillor has been warned he could face a jail sentence after being found guilty of downloading child porn onto his computer.

Mabon Dane stared impassively at the jury as the foreman read out a unanimous guilty verdict to 16 charges of making indecent photos of children and one of possessing indecent photos of children between January and June 2004.

Dane had denied all 17 charges. The jury took two-and-a-half hours to reach their verdict at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

During a three day trial, the court heard that 36-year-old Dane, a former Haverhill town councillor, had tried to delete the images from his laptop as the police banged on his front door.


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Officers were forced to break down the door of his first floor flat in Withersfield Road, Haverhill, when he did not answer.

Dane was arrested before officers searched the property and found his laptop underneath his bed.

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More than 850 explicit images of children were discovered on the computer. It had software installed called Evidence Eliminator, which had been activated while police were outside his door.

Prosecutor Robert Sadd said: “It is our case that while the officers were outside the defendant deleted the images in the hope it would hide them.”

Although images had been deleted from the laptop they had not been completely removed.

Dane denied subscribing to 20 child porn Internet notice boards and claimed he was the victim of an elaborate “set up”.

After yesterday's verdicts, Judge David Goodin adjourned sentence until the week commencing July 17 for a pre-sentence report.

He told Dane the offences he had been convicted of were serious and warned him that all sentencing options - including custody - would be open to the court when he returned next month.

However, he said custody would not automatically follow, as the images found on Dane's computer were level one, which was at the lowest end of the scale for such images. Dane was released on bail and ordered to sign on the sex offender's register.

After the verdict, Mr Sadd said Dane had no previous convictions or cautions.

He said Dane had resigned from Haverhill Town Council shortly before a hearing of the Adjudication Panel of the Standards Board of England and Wales, which investigated allegations of impropriety against councillors.

Mr Sadd said the tribunal had disqualified Dane from holding office for three years after finding he had brought his office and authority into disrepute and had failed to treat five councillors with respect.

Dane released a statement to the EADT after the verdict. He said: “Today I suffered a 'dolorous blow' in Ipswich Crown Court, and I face difficult times ahead.

“Despite the verdict, I stress that I maintain my innocence and hope to one day clear my name.”

Haverhill town clerk Gordon Mussett, who was in court during the trial, said: “This was a crime that most people would find the most heinous of crimes.

“Together with the standards board's decision it truly identifies the nature of Mr Dane. It is nice to know that justice has been done and that the verdicts will probably remove him from public life.”

Giving evidence during the trial, Dane claimed he was a victim of a “vindictive campaign”. He said he had no idea how the obscene images had got onto his home computer and he denied subscribing to newsgroups and computer notice boards, which prosecutors said were “plainly child pornography forums”.

Dane said he did not know who might have framed him but said there had been “significant conflict” with fellow members of the town council.

“My opponents disliked me intensely and there were some very tense battles which almost destroyed the town council”, Dane said.

“Councillors ran a vindictive campaign against myself and fellow members of our independent party”.

Asked about the day of the police raid at his home, Dane said he did not know who had been banging on his door.

“I was very afraid. I was not going to open the door and be attacked. I had received quite a number of threats from other councillors and I was terrified and totally frozen”.

After hearing evidence that the software on his laptop had deleted files as police stood outside, Dane said he had begun the programme before they had arrived and was wiping “confidential documents”.

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