A paedophile who helped Labour Party members in Peterborough seek election was yesterday sent to prison.
Andrew Palmer (52) was sentenced to 20 months in jail after twice breaching a sexual offences prevention order and a community order.
Palmer, who had been an Labour electoral agent for Peterborough City Council nominees, had twice spent time behind bars for possessing indecent images of children.
The second offence took place in 2007 and earned him eight months in prison.
Palmer had been the agent in the 2012 council elections for Labour group leader Nazim Khan as well as Jo Johnson and Richard Knowles.
Craig McDougall, prosecuting, said that the police had given Palmer the highest rating for a sexual offender.
He added: “The local constabulary have significant concerns about him.”
The sexual offences prevention order he had breached was handed out in October 2014, for breaching a previous order, and prevented him from spending unsupervised contact with a person under 16 years of age.
The first breach occurred on December 29 when he paid an unexpected visit to a house where a mother and her young daughter lived.
The mother at that time knew nothing about his previous convictions or the sexual prevention order.
The second breach was on February 2, 2015 when police arrested him and he admitted to having deleted messages from a phone messaging application called WhatsApp.
The content of the messages were not disclosed.
He had pleaded guilty to the charges on February 10 and was sentenced yesterdayat Peterborough Crown Court.
Edward Barr, defending Palmer, said: “This is not the most serious of breaches.
“It’s likely the circumstances of the 29th of December suggest something sinister in him going to the house and being in the company of the child.
“But his previous behaviour in their presence had not been suspicious.”
Barr, who asked that Palmer receive a suspended sentence, added: “There has been no attempt at supervision or therapy.
“No matter what the outcome of today is, his life in the part of Peterborough that he lives in will be in trouble.
“I would ask for one last chance for him.”
Sentencing Palmer, Judge Peter Murphy said: “It seems clear to me that you were aware from the end of October that not only you were barred from certain activity on the internet, but not to have unsupervised contact with young children without informing a parent or guardian of previous convictions.
“You turned up under cover of working with a housing association. You had several phones with you and the implication was clear.
“On the second count, there is not much information on what was deleted on your phone.
“But a previous matter indicated you have a clear interest in paedophilia and and the pornographic images of young children.”
Describing Palmer as a real risk to the public, Judge Murphy added: “It’s quite clear your offences were a calculated defiance of court orders.”
Palmer received eight months in prison for both of the two breaches of the sexual offences prevention order which will run consecutively.
For his breach of a community order, which was handed to him last year, he received an additional four months.
In total, Palmer had seven previous convictions for 13 offences, the first of which was for indecent assault in 1979.
Labour Party councillors in Peterborough were told to direct any press inquiries to the East of England spokesman. The spokesman said Palmer will be excluded from the party. He would not confirm his roles in the party, when he was involved, whether anyone knew about his past convictions and what the party thought of the sentencing.
Lisa Forbes, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Peterborough, pictured with Palmer, spoke to the Peterborough Telegraph but had not answered our questions by the time the paper went to press.
Councillor Nazim Khan said: “This is the first I knew about his previous history and I’m shocked. I personally don’t know him.”
Cllr Jo Johnson said: “He ran my council campaign in 2012. I don’t think anybody knew about him. I must admit I liked him to start with but I’m disgusted now.”
Former Labour now Independent councillor John Knowles said: “He was a really nasty piece of work, but there’s no way you could have known his past.”
The mother involved in the court case said: “I wish he had got longer. I was shocked. We knew nothing.”