A former Conservative Party campaign manager has been spared jail after he admitted possessing indecent images of children.
Mark Lerigo received a suspended jail sentence and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, but walked free after a court heard he did not to pose a high risk to children.
The 49-year-old, of William Bristow Road, Coventry, had denied having a sexual interest in children when he was first arrested in 2018.
He later pleaded guilty to two charges of distributing indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent images, one of possessing extreme pornography involving animals, one of possessing prohibited images of children and one of publishing an obscene article.
A Warwick Crown Court hearing on Friday was told some of the 1,500 images showed babies, while others involved bestiality and torture.
Sentencing Lerigo, Recorder Martin Butterworth said: “I have to sentence you for downloading dreadful images of children, of children being abused, and downloading other unlawful sexual images.
“Any consumer of this dreadful material causes others to make it.”
Referring to Lerigo’s former job, the judge added: “You held a senior post in a political party.
“You are now disgraced, your reputation destroyed.
“Those two factors are not mitigation and you’re not entitled to any sympathy for that.
“But you have demonstrated remorse and shame by your attitude in interviews, latterly with the police but most recently with the Probation Service, and you have pleaded guilty.”
Explaining his decision to suspend the jail sentence, the recorder said he had to consider the best way to protect the public and children.
“The pre-sentence report demonstrates that you want help and you have already sought it,” he told Lerigo.
“That help can only be offered if you remain the subject of some order to be served in the community.”
Lerigo was handed a two-year jail term, suspended for two years, and made the subject of a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
The judge also imposed on him a four-month curfew and a 10-year sexual harm prevention order.