(News Week) – Eric Joyce, a former member of parliament (MP) and ex-Army officer, has avoided jail after pleading guilty to making an indecent photograph of a child.
A movie file found on a device belonging to Joyce was a “category A image,” the most severe category of indecency.
The sentence given at Ipswich Crown Court is eight months in prison suspended for two years, and an order to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
He was charged with making the photo between August 7, 2013, and November 6, 2018.
He had already been ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register.
Judge Emma Peters said after the plea that the single video, a 51-second clip, “depicts a number of children” and was “clearly a category-A movie.”
“Some are quite young, one is said to be 12 months old,” Judge Peters said.
The politician served as a Labour MP between 2000 and 2012 for Falkirk in Scotland and was a former shadow minister.
The judge had already warned Joyce that his offense crossed the custody threshold and the court would be taking the decision seriously as such incidents “fuel the abuse of children.”
She said that the question was whether the sentence would be “immediate or suspended.”
Joyce had claimed he viewed the video “via… a spam email,” as heard in court.
Judge Peters said: ‘At the time he was drinking heavily and he has now undergone work with the [child sexual abuse prevention charity] Lucy Faithfull Foundation and a psychotherapist.”
Joyce served for 21 years in the British Army and became a major during this time.
He had promised to “make a full statement” when “all legal processes are at a close” but has offered no comment up until this point.
The former MP, of Worlingworth, Suffolk, was granted bail before this sentencing.
This is not the first time that Joyce has been convicted of a crime.
Joyce resigned from the Labour Party after admitting four counts of assault that took place in a parliamentary bar and was arrested for another alleged brawl in a House of Commons bar, but no further action was taken.
He was detained by police officers after an alleged fracas during a karaoke night within the Houses of Parliament at the Commons Sports and Social Club.
In the aftermath of the later incident, Joyce was barred by the House of Commons from purchasing any form of alcohol anywhere in the Palace of Westminster.
He became an MP in a by-election is 2000 and briefly became a shadow minister for Northern Ireland between June and November 2010. He resigned after pleading guilty to drink driving, apologizing for his behavior after being fined £400.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.