Ex-mayor convicted of child sex offences who changed name has jail term cut

A former mayor and convicted paedophile who was imprisoned after changing his name in order to stand in local elections has had his sentence cut by appeal judges.
John BeirneJohn Beirne
John Beirne

John Beirne, a former mayor of St Helens, Merseyside, was given a 16-month jail term in July by Judge Timothy Stead at Bolton Crown Court.

Appeal judges Mr Justice Spencer and Judge Martin Edmunds cut that term to 12 months at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Friday, after lawyers representing Beirne argued that 16 months was too long.

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Beirne had been given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Liverpool Crown Court in June 2017 after admitting sex offences, dating back more than 40 years, against boys aged between eight and 12, judges heard.

That conviction meant he was barred from standing as a councillor.

But, judges heard, in March 2019, he had requested that his name on the electoral roll be changed to John Blondel.

Later that month he had applied to run for election as an independent councillor on Wigan Council in 2019 elections, and signed as John Blondel to confirm that he was not disqualified to run.

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He had admitted attempting to stand as a candidate when disqualified and changing his name without notifying authorities.

Judge Stead had imposed an eight-month term for those offences and activated eight months of the suspended sentence imposed in 2017 – making a total of 16 months.

Appeal judges concluded that only four months of the suspended sentence should have been activated – and the total sentence should be 12 months.

Lawyers representing Beirne, who ran a hairdressing salon and lived in Pemberton, Wigan, said he had been a teenager when he committed the sex offences.

They said he had been a man of good character in the years following those offences, had been a mayor, and was not a danger to the public.