A SEX offender jailed for amassing a catalogue of indecent images of children has avoided a second prison sentence for using computers he was banned from having.

Steven Maughan, from Middlesbrough, hid a tablet and lap-top from police and carried on searching for vile pictures months after being freed from prison.

The 69-year-old was jailed last February and given a sexual harm prevention order requiring him to produce electronic devices for inspection.

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When a detective called at his Rutland Court home in September, Maughan showed his phone, but denied having other devices, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said officers found an android tablet in a cupboard and lap-top under a sofa.

No indecent images were found on the machines but “there were clearly searches indicative of looking for indecent images”, she added.

Maughan admitted two breaches of the sexual harm prevention order, and was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for the next 18 months.

Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said: “Perhaps society would be better served by allowing him the benefit of a suspended sentence order.”

A probation report said Maughan had gained stability in his life since his prison release and the risk he posed to the public would be better managed with a suspended sentence.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, told him: “It’s quite clear you have a sexual arousal and gratification from looking at children images.

“Offences of that kind are not free of victims. The victims are those children who are the subject of those images.

“On one of those devices there was clear evidence you were seeking and had in fact searched the internet for images of children in relation to sexual images.

Last February, Maughan outraged a judge when he said images of child abuse was no different to watching an action movie. Judge Howard Crowson described his comment as “incredible” after hearing more than 4,000 indecent images were found on computers during a November 2014 raid.