Shamed Watford Conservative Ian Oakley was spared jail this afternoon by St Albans magistrates.

Oakley, who perpetrated a three-year hate campaign against leading Liberal Democrats in Watford, has been handed an 18 week suspended jail sentence this afternoon.

He also received a 12 month supervision order.

Magistrates heard Oakley had a history of mental health problems but declined to send him to prison, as they had threatened to previously.

In passing sentence, chairman on the magistrates, Mr Barry Northrop, told Oakley his offences had been “planned” and that he had “completely ignored the obvious distress they would cause to his victims”.

He said his vicious campaign had been especially serious because it had taken place within a “political context” and because he had attempted to “subvert the democratic process”.

Mr Northrop said: “The abuse you used in some cases was particularly vile and we can not ignore the fact that it was your motivation to interfere with the democratic process.”

He told a forlorn looking Oakley, who hung his head in shame during the proceedings, he had been given credit for an early guilty plea and accepted the former politician’s remorse was “full”.

Oakley was then hounded by photographers as he walked free from court into St Albans high street.

After watching Oakley receive his sentence Sal Brinton, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Watford and the target of so much of Oakley’s attention, said she was “relieved” by the sentence.

She did, however, once again call for the Conservative Party to investigate how Oakley was able to get away with his campaign for so long.

Hertfordshire police has this afternoon released CCTV footage of Oakley carrying out one of his acts of vandalism.