A former Hackney councillor has avoided jail after admitting possessing indecent images of children.
Recorder Jonathan Ashley-Norman told Tom Dewey: “You have taken considerable steps since your arrest to address your offending behaviour.”
Handing him down a 12-month suspended sentence, he said: Your actions have had a devastating impact on your life and your closest family.”
He gave him credit for an early guilty plea and the work he had done to overcome his problem in looking at indecent images of children.
He also ordered devices to be forfeited, told Dewey to pay £500 costs and put him on a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which will restrict his contact with children.
Thomas Dewey, who was elected as a Labour councillor for De Beauvoir ward, was arrested by detectives from the National Crime Agency who seized laptops and tablets at his home in Hertford Road in Hackney, just days before May’s local elections last year.
He had a “huge problem” with looking at indecent images of children from the internet for his own use, Wood Green Crown Court heard.
He stood down as a councillor, within weeks of his arrest, before attending his first council meeting.
Described by party activists as “ambitious”, he had worked at Hackney Council for nearly two years as a support officer for the Mayor and Cabinet office and for a consultancy advising on planning.
He was the branch secretary for the De Beauvoir ward for Labour and had spent years campaigning for the party in Hackney.
Last month, the 36-year-old admitted a charge of making five category A indecent images of children, a further charge of making 41 category B indecent images, as well as making 203 category C indecent images of children, on 29 April 2022 in Hackney.
Images are graded with category A considered the worst.
Dewey, now of Hampshire, also admitted a charge of possessing 78 extreme pornographic images of children on 29 April 2022 and having 1,523 prohibited images of children in his possession on or before 20 January 2022.
A large number of them involved cartoons or CGI images.
The maximum sentence for the most serious charge is five years, depending on the number of images.
Details of the images were not read out in court, but prosecutor Margia Mostafa said the content of the Category A images “are highly serious.”
The starting point for the first charge is two years in prison but the steps Dewey has taken, along with his early guilty plea and remorse saw that cut to 12 months, suspended for two years.
He received an additional six months for charge two, three months for charge three, six months for charge four, and six months for charge five, all suspended for two years and to run concurrently.
Dewey also has to do 150 hours’ community service and 40 days of a “rehabilitation activity”.
The court heard images date from between 14 January 2008 to 27 April 2022, two days before his arrest at home in Hackney where he was “the sole occupant.”
The NCA seized two laptops, two tablets and a hard drive and Dewey was arrested and cautioned at 7.03am.
They had identified four “CyberTipline” reports which has user ID to a google drive and Dewey had uploaded indecent images of children to his personal account.
His lawyer, Rhiannon Sadler, said Dewey is “one of those people who has got to the point where there is a huge problem to say the least.”
She said they were serious offences and a pre-sentence report said he is “highly motivated” to tackle his problem.
She said he got help after his arrest from Safer Lives and completed their course and has had fortnightly counselling sessions with an expert ever since.
Dewey has no previous convictions and has been co-operative with police and probation. Recorder Jonathan Ashley-Norman also read supportive statements from family members.
“This period of his life has probably been the most difficult to deal with. Rather than seek to escape it, he’s tackled it head on,” said Ms Sadler.
“In terms of addressing his problem, he has been as proactive as he possibly can be. He’s taken responsibility with his family which would not have been an easy conversation in any way, as he did with his employer and having conversations with the Labour party,” said Ms Sadler.
Dewey was elected as a Labour councillor for the first time in the May 2022 council elections and resigned days later, triggering a by-election last July.
Labour, which has a majority on the council, narrowly defeated the Green candidate in the by-election.
The charges have caused upset amongst Labour campaigners who were unaware of the arrest until this summer.