A former UKIP candidate has been jailed for two years after admitting attempting to engage in sexual activity with a 12 year old girl.
Ex-politician Ronald John Loebell, 72, of Edisford Road, Clitheroe, appeared at Preston Crown Court after admitting two charges.
He wiped his eyes with a hanky as the court heard how within 15 minutes of striking up a conversation online with a girl he believed to be 12, he had initiated intimate conversation with her, asking her if she was old enough to talk about sex, and if she had seen a man naked.
He exposed himself to her on a webcam and encouraged her to commit acts herself.
The ‘girl’ was an undercover police officer.
Judge Heather Lloyd, sentencing him, said: “ You are a 72-year-old man who until today was of good character. I have read many positively glowing references about you from friends and family indicating what a hard working, loving, lovely family man you are and they all expressed their understandable shock and distress at what you have done.
“But offend you did, on this day in July, and in a serious sexual fashion.”
The defendant, who wore a beige jacket, was watched by a man and woman in the public gallery who were visibly distressed.
He admitted attempting to cause a 12-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to watch a 12-year-old engage in sexual activity .
Defending, Jeremy Lasker said he had been in custody for four months on remand.
Loebell was a candidate for UKIP in Edisford Ward in the Ribble Valley elections of May 2011 and also stood for election to Clitheroe Town Council, but was beaten in both contests.
UKIP previously said Loebell had retired from politics and was no longer involved with UKIP Ribble Valley or East Lancashire.