Friday, November 23, 2007

Conservative Councillor charged with sex assaults

Ben Redsell
Ben Redsell
A SUFFOLK county councillor has been charged with a string of sex assaults.

Suffolk police said today that Ben Redsell, a county, district and town councillor for Woodbridge, will appear in court in Ipswich on December 3.

He has been charged with two counts of sexual assault, two of indecent assault, three counts of possession of indecent images of children, seven counts of making indecent images of children and four counts of theft.

Redsell, 28, of Melton Meadow Road, Melton, has been charged with one count of sexual assault by penetration, one of sexual assault by touching and two historic offences of indecent assault on a female under 16 years, plus the indecent image and theft charges.

Redsell is also deputy mayor of Woodbridge.

UPDATE 1 Jul 08

A SUFFOLK county councillor's career has been left in tatters after he pleaded guilty to a sex assault and a string of child pornography offences - despite previously maintaining his innocence.

Ben Redsell, 28, of Melton, near Woodbridge, admitted sexual assaulting a 19-year-old woman, seven counts of making indecent pictures of children and three counts of possessing indecent pictures of children.

The town, district and county councillor for Woodbridge had previously pleaded not guilty to the offences and in November said: “I maintain my innocence and I will be fighting all these charges.”

But standing in the dock at Norwich Crown Court yesterday,Redsell pleaded guilty to each of the 11 counts read out to him.

He admitted sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, at her home on August 24 last year following a night out at The Hippodrome in Colchester.

Following his arrest, police searched Redsell's home in Melton Meadow Road, where he lives with his mother.

Officers found indecent images of children on his computer and yesterdayhe pleaded guilty to seven counts of making indecent pictures of children dating from January 1, 2000, to August 26, 2007.

He also pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing indecent images of children, which police found in his bedroom, for the same period.

Judge Simon Barham told Redsell, who was elected as a Conservative county councillor, that he would be sentenced on August 1 - the day after his 29th birthday - and ordered him to sign the sex offenders' register.

Judge Barham added: “Do not assume that because you are on bail now you will not get a custodial sentence later.”

Before attending court yesterdayRedsell resigned from his positions at Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council and Woodbridge Town Council.

In a letter to the district council, Redsell said: “It has been an honour to serve the people of Woodbridge as their councillor for the last year and I am very sorry to be leaving in this way.”

Speaking after the case, Les Binns, the mayor of Woodbridge, said: “I think it is a sad event and very unfortunate. Some people in the town are feeling let down and the council itself feels let down. He was a lad with some promise which he has given up. Until today people were asking what was happening to him and said that they missed him because he did a lot of good work for the town. But I am sure that now he has pleaded guilty there may well be a different attitude. People are all shocked and dismayed.”

Redsell, a former pupil of Farlingaye High School and Woodbridge School, was elected to Suffolk County Council at a by-election in 2004, becoming the youngest member of the authority.

He was elected to the district council in May last year, as the councillor for Woodbridge Riverside ward.

He held numerous positions at all three tiers of local government, including membership of Suffolk Police Authority. He was also the Conservative agent in Ipswich before the 2005 General Election.

Redsell resigned from the Conservative Party in November after he was charged with the offences to “save them any further embarrassment” but continued to act as an independent councillor.

Suffolk police's Detective Inspector Steve Clabburn said: “These are serious offences and we are pleased he has pleaded guilty, which has spared the victim the ordeal of having to face him in court.

“The guilty plea was made in light of the evidence gathered by officers and we will await the sentencing.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesman would only comment by confirming that Redsell resigned from the council at 2pm yesterday.

There will now be two by-elections to fill his seat for the county council and district council, although it is not yet known when these will take place.

Redsell declined to comment yesterday.


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