A "lonely and isolated" teenager, who downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children, narrowly escaped an immediate custodial sentence.

Abid bin Ahsan, who made a handful of the “repellent” images available for distribution to others, was told had he been older at the time of his offending he would have been locked up.

All the offending images were found on his mobile phone, seized along with a hard drive, from his bedroom on a police visit to his home in Stanley, on November 11, 2021.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said Ahsan greeted the officers by saying: “I know what you are talking about.

Read more: County Durham sex offender failed to reveal all devices to police

“I’ve been added to some What’s App groups with videos in them, in messages.”

Ahsan said the images were archived, so he “unarchived” them to enable him to go through them.

He was arrested and interviewed but made no reply to police questions.

Miss Waugh said police analysis of the phone uncovered 262 indecent images of children, 101 in the most serious category, with 49 in video form, lasting a total of 46 minutes.

She said the children depicted being abused were both male and female, aged between 18 months and 15 years.

There were also 116 images of extreme pornography, featuring acts of bestiality, two of which were in video form, while there were three prohibited images of children, in either drawn or cartoon form.

All the illicit material was downloaded between September and November 2021.

Miss Waugh said five of the indecent images, one of which was in the most serious category, were uploaded to Ahsan’s drop-box account.

“The forensic analysis suggests the defendant joined What’s App groups where child abuse images were posted by others,” added Miss Waugh.

Read more: Sex offender found with indecent images of children facing jail again

Ahsan, now 18, of King Terrace, Stanley, admitted making and distributing indecent images of children, plus possessing prohibited images of children and extreme pornography.

Ashleigh Leach, mitigating, said the defendant was aged only 17 at the time of the offences, the worst of which was the distribution of a single category A image.

“He was young and immature at the time and has no real friends to speak of.”

She said the defendant lives with his family and retains their support, despite, “some tension”, over the offending.

Miss Leach said the Probation Service pre-sentence report described him as, “isolated and lonely, lacking in self-esteem and confidence.”

But she said there was the potential for him to fall in with, “worse crowds” if he was to receive a custodial sentence.

She added that both before, and since the offences were committed, in 2021, the defendant has kept out of trouble.

Miss Leach invited Judge James Adkin to offer Ahsan the chance of rehabilitation in the community with a suspended sentence.

Judge Adkin, who described the images as “repellent”, told Ahsan that had he been an adult at the time the offences were committed, the starting point for his sentence would have been three years prison, beyond the range that can be suspended.

“It’s bad enough that you like looking at images of children being subject to sexual abuse.

“It’s considerably more serious if you encourage more people to follow your habit.

“But you were 17 at the time and I have considered the guidelines for sentences of children and young people.

“I think it’s highly unlikely, had this case been dealt with at the youth court, an immediate sentence would have been imposed on you.”

He passed a 12-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, during which the defendant must attend 40 probation-led rehabilitation activity days and complete a course to address his offending.

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Ahsan will also be subject to a six-month electronically-monitored home curfew and the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, for ten years.

The defendant must register as a sex offender, also for ten years.

Judge Adkin warned him any repeat offending or failure to meet the elements of the suspended sentence would result in him being sent behind bars.