Thursday, May 26, 2011
A COUNCILLOR has been remanded in custody and suspended by his party after being charged with two sexual offences.
Mark Burton was arrested only days after this month’s council elections and was charged with two offences, one against a child.
Councillor Burton was re-elected to serve the Harrowgate Hill ward on Darlington Borough Council for a second four-year term on May 5.
The 42-year-old Labour councillor was arrested three days later and charged with an offence of sexual assault and a second for sexual touching of a child.
He later appeared in front of magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, where he was remanded in custody until his next hearing on June 15. No pleas have yet been entered.
He has been suspended by his party pending the outcome of the investigation.
New council leader Bill Dixon referred The Northern Echo to the party’s regional group yesterday.
A Labour North spokesman said: “Coun Mark Burton has been placed on an administrative suspension from the Labour Party and Darlington Labour Group pending the outcome of police inquiries. “He is unable to hold any position with, or represent, the Labour Party during his suspension. “It would be inappropriate to comment further until police investigations are complete.”
A spokeswoman at Darlington Borough Council said: “Coun Mark Burton has been charged with two offences of a sexual nature.
“The case is still being investigated by the police and the usual child protection procedures are being followed. "We understand that he is currently remanded in custody. “The councillor has been suspended from the Labour group and has therefore not been put forward for seats on any of the committees. “At this stage, the council does not have powers to take any action to suspend him.”
She added that ward matters in Harrowgate Hill would be dealt with by the two other Labour councillors – John Vasey and Marjory Knowles.
Coun Burton was first elected in 2007 when he polled 706 votes. In this month’s election he topped the polls across the borough with 1,261 votes in a keenly-fought contest.
The councillor, who is a warehouse operator at Glaxo- SmithKline, in Barnard Castle, has a reputation for working hard on behalf of constituents.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
A drunk magistrate who smashed into two cars while almost five times the limit has narrowly been spared jail.
Canterbury city councillor Vince McMahan was handed a three-month suspended sentence and banned from the road for two-and-half-years at a hearing on Monday.
The case was heard 65 miles away at City of Westminster magistrates court in London, after twice being transferred at late notice from courts in Folkestone and Medway.
Dad-of-three McMahan – who has revealed he won’t be standing for re-election – admitted drink driving after a session in the town.
The court heard he crashed into an oncoming Ford Focus in Western Avenue, Herne Bay, before skidding into a parked car belonging to city council officer Lyn McDaid.
The driver of the Ford – a 46-year-old woman from Herne Bay – was unhurt in the smash at 5.15pm on March 8.
McMahan, 50, of Plough Court , Broomfield , was arrested and failed a breathalyser test, giving a reading of 167 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is just 35.
His prison sentence was suspended for 12 months, meaning no action will be taken if he commits no further crimes in the next year. He must also pay £85 costs.
After he was charged, McMahan told the Gazette he had been taking anti-depressants and drinking more due to personal issues.
He added: “I’m absolutely mortified. I’ve never had so much as a point on my licence since 1978. It’s humiliating and embarrassing.”
Before his court appearance, McMahan resigned his role as a magistrate and announced he had asked to be taken off the Tory candidate list for May’s local elections.
Speaking after sentencing he said: “I’m relieved it’s over, but I badly regret it ever happened.
“I can only apologise. I can’t believe I got it so wrong, but I did and I can’t take that back.
“I’ve just got to try and move on now and put it behind me. I’m going to take a bit of time out and catch up with family life, which I’ve neglected a bit.”
Herne Bay Gazette reporters drove more than 100 miles trying to follow McMahan’s case through the court system.
It was first listed to be heard at Folkestone magistrates’ court last Wednesday, but was mysteriously transferred to Medway magistrates to be heard on Monday.
Again the Gazette went along, but despite his name being on the court list, McMahan's case had been transferred to City of Westminster magistrates on an unknown date.
A quick call to the court revealed the case was heard and dealt with that day, with no press in attendance.
McMahan – who used to sit as a magistrate in Sittingbourne and Maidstone – said: “I can only presume they wanted it away from the Kent bench. I was never given a reason.”
Former Rhondda Cynon Taf Labour councillor Steve Carnell, 57, of Trealaw, near Tonypandy, faces a total of 40 separate charges.
They include making and possessing indecent images of children and possessing extreme images involving animals.
The indecent images alleged to have been found in Carnell’s possession include over 2,000 at level four and around 150 at level five, the two most severe ratings.
Carnell – who acted as Rhondda MP Chris Bryant’s election agent last year and education minister Leighton Andrews’ agent in 2007 – was remanded in custody at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court.
The charges date back to 2003.
There was no application for bail on his behalf and District Judge Jill Watkins remanded him in custody until his committal date of May 6.
She said: “I am remanding you in custody for fear of further offences.”
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
A Labour councillor with close links to Harriet Harman and Tessa Jowell has been arrested on suspicion of grooming an underage girl for sex.
John Friary, 51, was questioned by Scotland Yard's paedophile unit and has been sacked from his position on a council.
He has frequently canvassed at elections with Ms Harman and Ms Jowell who are both members of Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet.
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