Disgraced former Mid-Wales politician Simon Thomas has escaped jail after pleading guilty to possessing indecent images of children.

At a hearing in Mold Crown Court today, Thomas was given a suspended 26-week jail sentence, suspended for two years, having previously admitted possession of  94 category A still photographs, 87 Class B pictures and 358 Class C. There were also 56 category A videos, 16 category B and five class C.

The 54-year-old had quit his position in the Welsh Assembly in July following a criminal investigation. He was MP for Ceredigion between 2000 and 2005.

He was charged with three counts of making indecent images of children in September.

Judge Gwyn Jones said: “You were prominent in public life and in the public eye but it does not have any relevance to this court in dealing with you. Everyone must be treated on the basis of equality and fairness.”

Thomas had shown genuine remorse and taken steps to address his problem and the offences did not involve the distribution of the material, said Judge Jones.

The offences, however, warranted custody and when such images were viewed over a period of time it only promoted a vile trade which had a lasting impact on the child victims throughout their lives.

But he added that custody would simply delay accessing the help Thomas required.

He sentenced Thomas to a total of 26 weeks prison, suspended for 24 months and placed him on the sex offenders register for seven years.

A seven-year sexual harm prevention order imposing severe restrictions on his computer use was also made.

Speaking after the sentencing, an NSPCC Cymru spokesperson said Thomas had 'betrayed the trust placed in him'.

“Within these images are young victims of abuse and by possessing them, Thomas has fuelled the demand in this awful trade. It is not a victimless crime," they said.

“His actions betrayed the trust placed in him by the communities he represented at Cardiff Bay and Westminster and it’s now extremely important that he receives appropriate rehabilitation as part of his sentence.

“Ridding images like these from the internet must be a priority for tech companies, government and law enforcement.”