A FORMER council official who was caught with indecent images of children has avoided a jail sentence.

William Laird, of Macmerry, downloaded the images to an electronic device at his home on August 28 last year.

Laird, who has since retired from his position with East Lothian Council, also distributed the material to others between December 7, 2010, and June 11, 2012.

The 62-year-old had previously admitted two offences at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and he returned to the dock for sentencing last Friday.

Solicitor Angela Craig, defending, said her client had completed the sex offenders’ rehabilitation Stop It Now programme and had “got benefit from that”.

Ms Craig added that Laird “maintains the support of his family despite what has happened” and that since committing the offences he has “no interest in computers these days”.

Sheriff Frank Crowe acknowledged that Laird had “a good [social work] report” and that he had “cooperated with it”.

Sheriff Crowe told Laird that as an alternative to custody he would place him on an 18-month supervision order and told him he must cooperate with the sexual offenders organisation CISSO.

Laird was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for 18 months.