Former Newcastle City Councillor avoids prison after being convicted of possessing over 1000 child abuse images

A former Newcastle City councillor has avoided a prison sentence after being convicted of possessing over 1000 child abuse images, some of which depicted children as young as two

David Besag was last week given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting to using child pornography. The 50-year-old, of Glenthorn Road in Jesmond, had previously been a Liberal Democrat councillor in the city’s Walkergate ward.

The party said that Besag, who stood as a Lib Dem candidate as recently as 2018, was no longer a member of the party and “would never have been selected” to stand for office if his crimes had been known at the time. Besag, a self-confessed porn addict, avoided a stint in jail after pleading guilty to three counts of making indecent images of a child, one of possessing a prohibited image of a child, and one of possessing extreme porn.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that police uncovered 34 images and 23 videos of the most serious category A, 17 photos and 10 videos of category B, and 1,031 pictures and 39 videos of category C, after seizing Besag’s laptop, mobile phone, computer tower, and a hard drive. The collection involved children aged between two and 17.

There were also four prohibited images of a child and 200 extreme porn videos and five extreme porn pictures on Besag’s devices, the latter involving animals and adult males. Besag downloaded the pictures and videos over an 18-year period from 2002 to 2020, which includes his six-year spell on the city council.

A Newcastle Lib Dem spokesperson said: “He was a hard-working elected member during his time as a councillor for Walkergate. It goes without saying that if we had the slightest inkling of the criminal behaviour that has now come to light then he would never have been selected as a candidate or stayed as a party member. Our thoughts are with the children and families affected. He is no longer a member of the party.”

The ex-councillor was first elected in the Walkergate ward when the Lib Dems took control of the council in 2004 and was returned by voters for a second time in 2006. Besag, who has no previous convictions, claimed he had only been downloading the indecent material since 2012 and had no sexual interest in children, although he was addicted to adult porn.

The court heard he also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and dyspraxia. As well as the suspended sentence, Besag was made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for seven years and must sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for the same period.