A PAEDOPHILE who downloaded indecent images of children has avoided a prison sentence.
Brian Stretton, 65, was caught after Essex police investigated a website from where he had been downloading images.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard that one of the children in the 12 images found was aged eight years old and another 10.
Police also found 200 pictures of extreme pornography on his laptop.
Prosecuting, Tammy Mears said Stretton only admitted his guilt to police when they confronted him with evidence from his laptop and then he said that he had been looking at the pictures ‘out of curiosity’ not to get sexual kicks.
The court heard Stretton had begun to search for the images after chatting with young girls online, and Judge Roger Hetherington said police had already given warnings to the families involved.
Simon Moger, defending Stretton, told the court: ‘This defendant was motivated by a combination of curiosity, naivety and in some aspects, an underlying interest in the sexual content of these images.’
Stretton pleaded guilty to eight counts of possession of indecent images of children.
He also admitted four counts of extreme pornography featuring bestiality, which he had viewed on November 26.
Mr Moger said: ‘The picture of this defendant is a somewhat isolated and vulnerable individual which in some extent led to these offences being committed in the first place.
‘He appears to be a man who has spent a number of years avoiding problems in terms of his general health, mental health and that sort of thing.’
He said Stretton, who is previously of good character, had become lonely and depressed after his marriage broke down and that he stood to lose his home if he was sent to prison.
Judge Hetherington sentenced Stretton, from Wingfield Street, Buckland, Portsmouth to a three-year suspended prison term.
Stretton was ordered to attend a Sex Offenders’ Treatment Programmes.
He was put under supervision for three years.
Stretton was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.
His name will remain on the register for five years.