A SHAMED former Lord Mayor of Leeds who downloaded 36,000 indecent images of children over a six-year period has been jailed for 32 months.
Leeds Crown Court was told 65-year-old Neil Taggart also shared images of children being abused using file sharing websites.
Taggart was a Leeds City councillor between 1980 and 2014; Lord Mayor of Leeds in 2003/04 and served as chairman of West Yorkshire Police Authority between 1998 and 2003.
The court heard Taggart’s personal reputation as a long-standing public servant has been “utterly destroyed.”
Police armed with a search warrant raided his home in Marlowe Crescent, Garforth, on September 23 last year while he was on holiday abroad with his family.
Computer equipment was seized including a desktop computer, hard drives and USB memory sticks.
Police discovered a total of 36,003 indecent images and videos of children including 5,488 at category A - the most serious level.
The court heard that some images featured both pubescent and pre-pubescent children being sexually abused by adults - including children under five being abused.
Police also found 30 extreme pornographic images depicting sexual activity between adults and animals.
Taggart admitted three charges of making indecent images of children, three charges of distributing indecent photographs of children, one charge of possessing prohibited images of children and one charge of possession of extreme pornographic images. The offences were committed between 2010 and 2016.
Mitigating, Stephen Wood said: “The defendant’s health is not good. He has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.”
Mr Wood added: “This is a person who has given over 30 years of public service...These convictions utterly destroy the personal reputation that he had built up over those 30 plus years of service.”
Jailing Taggart for 32 months, judge Robin Mairs, said police had found a “library” of indecent images of children on Taggart’s computer equipment.
Judge Mairs told Taggart: “I accept that both your personal and public reputation, that at one time stood high in the city, now effectively lies in the gutter.”
- Neil Taggart’s family will continue to support him after his conviction for “abhorrent crimes,” Leeds Crown Court was told.
Taggart’s lawyer Stephen Wood said Taggart’s brother had written a letter to the court.
Mr Wood said: “It reveals that the whole family consider the defendant’s crimes to be utterly abhorrent, yet because of those blood ties they will continue to support him. Support does not mean condoning.”
Taggart’s name will be on the sex offender register for life.