Waveney: Former councillor is spared jail over stun gun charge

A FORMER councillor has been spared jail despite a judge admitting he was concerned about the escalation in his offending, particularly towards the police.

Andrew Draper resigned as a Tory councillor on Waveney District Council last year following convictions for drink driving and assaulting a police officer to become an independent.

He finally quit the council last November -triggering a by-election in Worlingham -after his arrest and subsequent court appearance for sending an offensive e-mail to a police officer.

Last week Draper was warned by a judge that he could be jailed after he admitted illegally possessing a stun gun which was found by police in a bedside drawer at his home on November 4 last year.

However at a sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court today Judge Rupert Overbury allowed Draper to walk free from court after deciding to give him an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordering him to do 200 hours unpaid work in the community.

Sentencing 38-year-old Draper, of Martin Close, Carlton Colville, Judge Rupert Overbury said he was concerned about the escalation in his offending, particularly towards the police.

“Unitl the middle of last year you were a man of impeccable character, a public representative, a district councillor, someone who performed charitable duties, someone who was responsible and considered reliable and someone people could look up to,” said the jduge.

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“For some reason, and I cannot fathom why, your life since last August has gone on a rapid downhill slope.”

He told Draper he had acted irresponsibly by not handing the stun gun, which he claimed he had found in a public toilet, into the police and said it could have fallen into the wrong hands. “You need to understand you cannot continue this downward spiral,” said the judge.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting told the court that following the discovery of the stun gun Draper told police he charged the weapon a few weeks earlier and answered no comment when asked if it was for self-defence.

Jude Durr for Draper said his client was deeply ashamed and remorseful and said that since his fall from grace he had been the victim of a poster campaign broadcasting his transgressions.

He said Draper had made a positive contribution to the local community as a councillor and had worked hard all his adult life.

Mr Durr said his client had found the stun gun in a public toilet and had picked it up thinking it might be of some value.

“Once it was in his possession he wasn’t sure how to get rid of it,” said Mr Durr.