A FORMER Moray councillor has been placed on the sex offenders register after admitting possessing indecent images of children.
Sean Morton, who stood as a candidate for both Westminster and Holyrood, was also ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work for the community.
The 36-year-old appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court earlier today to be sentenced, having already pleaded guilty.
Asking for leniency defence solicitor Laura Greer made the point that her client had not searched online for the images.
She stated, and this was confirmed by the police, that they had been sent to him by someone else.
The lawyer added that her client had been the victim of sexual abuse as a child.
In addition, he had been deeply affected by finding the body of his brother.
Ms Greer said: "He never dealt with all the issues in his life."
In serious legal cases, where the defendant is at risk of going to prison, a psychiatric assessment is carried out by the courts.
Ms Greer added that her client had welcomed the three hours he spent with a psychiatrist as a chance to talk through matters.
Stating he had found it "very beneficial", Ms Greer highlighted the psychiatrist’s assessment that there was a "low risk" of Morton re-offending.
Morton represented the Fochabers/Lhanbryde ward for five years.
He lost his seat in last May, by which point the accusations had already been made public and he had been suspended from the Labour Party.
Images of four girls aged between 10 and 15 years old, dated November 11, 2013, were found on an Apple MacBook computer.
In an iTunes back-up file there were also three images of men and women engaging in sexual intercourse with a dog.
It was stated during an earlier hearing that someone who Morton had befriended on June 6, 2016, went to the police the following day.
A warrant was obtained and executed during the early hours of June 10, at Morton’s former home in Lhanbryde.
Morton, who now lives in Stirling, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Civic Government (Scotland) 1982.
He later released a public statement.
It said: "Today has been a long time coming. The last 621 days have been a living hell: for my family, my friends, and for me. We’ve sadly had to endure times as tough as these before – but I hope we never have to again.
"In November 2017, well over a year after this investigation began, I was told how I had come into possession of seven indecent images. These were sent to me anonymously.
"I realised I hadn’t been as careful about who I spoke to online as I would be in my everyday life. As a survivor of childhood sex abuse, I felt revulsion at what had happened and immediately felt I must accept my guilt.
"I wish with all my heart the sender never sent the images. I wish I had been less careless and much more guarded online, but I know as well as anyone that wishing will not make bad memories go away.
"Wishing cannot change what happened, only what can happen next. I will say more about what happened in the coming weeks and months, but for now I want to say this – to the police and crown prosecution service, whose job it is to take accusations of these sort very seriously, thank you for giving this the due diligence the public would expect.
"To those of you who were disappointed, angry and hurt by what you read – I’m sorry. I completely understand.
"And finally, to those of you who saw that there had to be more to all of this than what you read in the press, thank you, for your faith in me and for your support. It has helped and will continue to help me keep going."
Passing sentence, Sheriff Chris Dickson stated that before deciding to send someone to prison, he had to rule out all the other ways of dealing with them.
Sheriff Dickson said: "Considering all the things that have been said, I can’t say that a custodial sentence is the only option."
As well as the unpaid work, which has to be carried out within the next nine months, Morton was placed under court supervision for the next three years.