HORRIFIED parents have told of their shock after a Scout leader caught with 163 child abuse images avoided jail.
Pervert John Michaels was caught by police with 120 films on his computer, which included vile images of children as young as two being abused.
At a hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court it was revealed the 34-year-old – who is known as John Rutter – had been a leader at 1st Fareham Scouts for about 18 years.
Michaels, of Westfield Avenue, Fareham, admitted 10 counts of making indecent photographs of children between February and July 2017, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.
The shamed Scout was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
Sentencing, Judge Timothy Mousley QC said: ‘These were disgusting images of children being abused, some as young as two years old. It is not just about the type of moving images, but the quantity.’
Reacting after the hearing, a mother who has a child at 1st Fareham Scouts, but who asked not to be named, said: ‘I was concerned, quite shocked.
‘You don’t like to hear about it from anybody but the fact of what he was in the community, it was a bit of a shock and concerning.’
Simon Carter, a spokesman for the Scout Association, was appalled by the news and added the organisation had cooperated fully with detectives.
He said: ‘Michaels was suspended from all involvement with the Scout movement as soon as we were made aware of the investigation.’
He added: ‘He will never again work with the Scout movement.’
Michaels was arrested at his home in July 2017, the court heard.
As well as finding the indecent films – which included some at category A, the highest level of abuse – police found a piece of software on his computer used to search for child pornography.
A link to a bestiality website was also found on his laptop, the court heard.
Defence barrister Andrew Stroch told the court Michaels had been suffering from mental health problems and since his arrest has been diagnosed with a bipolar type 2 personality.
Mr Stroch said Michaels was remorseful and that he admitted guilt as soon as the police arrived at his front door.
Michaels has to complete a sex offenders’ course and 200 hours unpaid work.
Judge Mousley also enforced a sexual harm prevention order for the next 10 years. Michaels’ electronic devices will be registered with the police and access to the internet will be restricted.
He is set to be barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.