Pervert Ross Stubbs has avoided jail after being caught with disturbing photos of boys being sexually abused.
The 38-year-old downloaded or viewed more than 60 images over a seven-year period before police raided his Lightwood home.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard indecent pictures depicting boys aged eight to 15 were found on a phone with the majority at category A, the most serious.
Now Stubbs has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, after a judge ruled it would better protect the public.
Prosecutor Ben Lawrence said officers executed a search warrant at the defendant’s home on April 22 last year and seized several devices.
Mr Lawrence said: “The devices were examined and indecent images were found on the phone. There were 29 still and 16 moving images at category A; seven still and four moving images at category B and six still images at category C.
“They had been viewed or downloaded between May 2014 and a few days before the warrant was executed. The children depicted were aged between eight and 15. They were male.
“Two of the category A images were found in WhatsApp but he was the only participant in that chat so he was not responsible for distributing them.
“A friend told him he liked ‘young’. The defendant asked how young. The defendant said it was not a conversation for here and asked if he had the Kik or Wickr apps as both are encrypted. Searches included, ‘Schoolboy sex with stepdad’.”
In his police interview the defendant admitted viewing indecent images for sexual gratification. Stubbs, of Ayreshire Grove, Lightwood, pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent images of children.
Recorder Anthony Warner said: “These are offences which quite often relate in someone going immediately to prison. But the public may be better protected by the treatment in the community you will receive. If you were to be sent to prison it is unlikely that you would receive any or very much treatment.
“The public would be better protected by you remaining in the community receiving that treatment together with the reassurance to the public there will be a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).”
As part of the suspended sentence Stubbs must complete a mental health treatment requirement for 12 months and a rehabilitation activity requirement for 55 days. He was made the subject of a SHPO for 10 years and placed on the sex offenders’ register for the same period. And he was ordered to pay £400 costs.