A man found to have scores of indecent images of children stored on his smart phone denied being sexually interested by anyone under the age of 19, a court was told.

Police received information specifying an email address from where indecent child images may have been uploaded.

It led them to visit the former home address of Jonathan McNeil-Candlin, in Burnopfield, County Durham, from where they seized an iphone and an ipad computer, in August last year.

Durham Crown Court heard that he told police he had received, in a ‘drop box’, an unrequested image of a naked 13-year-old girl, sent from someone he did not know, two years earlier, so he deleted it.

Read more: 'Bored' ex-JP collected thousands of indecent child images from the internet

Dr Chris Wood, prosecuting, said the defendant told police he had no interest in children and was only sexually interested in females aged 19 or above.

When he was told that indecent images of children were found on his phone he said he downloaded bulk photo packages from snapchat.

He said he believed he may have deleted some of them.

Dr Wood said forensic analysis discovered 54 indecent images, 17 in the most serious category and nine of them in video form, lasting a total of 32 minutes.

He said there were more than 171 other still images and 24 videos which could not be categorised, but which were “indicative” of an interest in children.

Dr Wood said the ages of the children featured in the images were between six and 15.

The 26-year-old defendant, now said to be living in Sheffield, admitted three counts of making (downloading) indecent images of children, one offence for each for the three categories, when he appeared recently before magistrates.

They were said to have been accessed between December 2019 and April 2020.

Amrit Jandoo, representing McNeil-Candlin, told the crown court sentencing hearing his client has no previous convictions, but he said he was aware of the seriousness of the offences and that it could result in a prison sentence.

Mr Jandoo said the defendant has a “stable” job and life in general, but in boredom had accessed “regular pornography” and, while delving further into the so-called ‘dark web’, was “truly horrified” that he accessed the offending images.

He accepts having deleted some offending images.

Mr Jandoo said the defendant, who attended military school and gained employment fairly quickly after leaving, would find the imposition of a prison sentence “devastating” and it would lead to the loss of his home.

He pointed to the Probation Service assessment of the defendant as of “low risk” to the public and “medium risk” to children.

Urging Judge Ray Singh to suspend any prison sentence, Mr Jandoo added: “He’s been very open about the offences and there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.”

Read more: North Yorkshire pervert targeted young children for indecent images

Judge Singh told McNeil-Candlin that people who access such images only “fuel” further sexual exploitation of more children.

He told him: “It’s a lie to say you don’t have a sexual interest in children.

“I take the view it’s a very serious sexual offence because of the ramification that it encourages further abuse of children, often from a very young age.”

Imposing a six-month prison sentence Judge Singh said he had come to the conclusion he could suspend it, for two years, as he believes there is work that can be done with the defendant.

He ordered him to undergo 30 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service and attend up to 90 days of an accredited sexual offenders’ group work programme, “to deal with your deviant behaviour."

The judge also made the defendant subject of registration as a sex offender and the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for seven years.

* Read next: Defendant claimed he did not 'differentiate' between indecent images featuring adults or children

* Read next: Man said children on abuse images, 'seemed to enjoy it'

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