May 2005

Councillor jailed

A PILLAR of the community ruined by his ‘squalid offer of money for sexual gratification’.

That was the court’s verdict on disgraced Castlefields councillor Liam Temple.

He was jailed for six months on Friday at Chester Crown Court for offering a 12-year-old girl money to grope her.

“You are looking at the complete downfall of somebody who was very popular on a run-down estate,” said his defence counsel, Simon Berkson.

Temple, a 58-year-old widow from Kingshead Close, has resigned as a ward councillor – he still denies the offence.

He was convicted after a trial last month. He will now have to sign the sex offenders register and can never work with children again.

Temple had been a Runcorn councillor for 22 years, and 10 years ago served as Mayor.

Judge Roger Dutton told Temple: “You were convicted of a squalid offer of money to a young girl for groping for your own gratification.

“It’s quite extraordinary because you are a man with a lifetime of service behind you.

“You are now thoroughly publicly disgraced and that is in itself substantial punishment.”

But the judge didn’t consider the shame enough.

Temple’s defence said his poor health – he suffers from high blood pressure, difficulties with walking, heart disease and a lung problem – and his public service were exceptional enough for his sentence to be suspended.

But to gasps from Temple’s girlfriend, daughter and two other supporters in the gallery, the judge jailed him immediately.

Judge Dutton told Temple: “I know that for a man of your age and your particular circumstances this is a desperate matter to have to cope with but I have a duty to the complainant and a duty to the public.

“You are a man with not just public service but public responsibility to set a proper example to the people in your community, who looked up to you and respected you.

“And you fell far short of providing that public example in this case.

“This young girl’s father didn’t for one minute think his daughter would be abused in the foul and disgusting manner in which you chose to do it.”

Defence counsel Mr Berkson said Temple had numerous good references for his charitable and council work.

“The embarrassment, the shame, the ruination of his life is harsh for anybody facing this type of conviction, but particularly hard for this man,” said Mr Berkson.

“His everyday dealings with people are different. They aren’t rushing to shake his hand or ask him a question any more.”

Temple usually stood out at council meetings thanks to his garrulous nature and choice of bright suits.

He cut a very different figure in court.

Wearing a black suit and dark blue tie, he looked crushed by the past few months and winced with pain as he stood for the judge’s decision.

He was described in court as having been a ‘prominent local politician’.

But on Friday, he appeared in the dock shortly after a case involving four common thugs from Middlewich who battered a father for brushing past them in the street, and was led down the same steps to the cells.

His picture and name have already been removed from posters in Halton Council’s municipal building, replaced by a silhouette and a ‘vacant’ sticker.