A former RAF man who was found with more than 1,500 indecent images of children has avoided jail.
Alex Boulter, 20, was arrested at his place of work in Accrington last year and officers later found the images on a laptop and disk drive at his home in Oswaldtwistle.
They also found he had been using an email address on his phone and iPad to speak to ‘other persons who were clearly interested’ in indecent images and had been sharing pictures.
Burnley Crown Court heard how he had downloaded 220 category A images – the most serious - 415 category B and 1,021 category C images as well as 45 movies including 15 of category A.
Boulter, who has also worked at William Hill and Matalan, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of making indecent images of children, six counts of possessing indecent images and three counts of possessing indecent images for show.
Stephen Parker, prosecuting, told the court how Boulter was arrested at his place of work in Accrington on July 2 last year after police received information relating to equipment used by the defendant.
The court heard how officers searched his Oswaldtwistle home and found a laptop and disk drive and also seized an iPhone and iPad when he was in custody.
The court heard how Boulter denied the offences when interviewed by police.
However an examination by the high tech crime unit recovered the images which were ‘primarily boys aged between four and 12 years old’.
Mr Parker told the court: “It’s apparent from the search terms that have been referred to the defendant no doubt knew what he was looking for at the time and had used a particular website.”
Mr Parker said police accessed his emails which showed a ‘significant amount of exchanges between the defendant and ‘various other persons who were clearly interested in indecent images of children’.
Simon Mintz, defending, said it was a ‘squalid business’ and Boulter was engaged in ‘amateurish swapping of images’.
He said: “He was going through a difficult time in his life. He was socially isolated.
“His career ambition had fallen through on health grounds. He had joined the RAF. He is a very candid young man and accepts his motives were sexual arousal.”
Judge Jonathan Gibson said there were ‘various conversations’ between Alex Boulter and others ‘referring to sharing of pictures and videos’.
The court heard that Boulter received one email saying ‘hey, where is your trade? I love girls or boys’ and another email saying ‘this is a selection of mine, hope you send back’.
Another person contacted Boulter saying ‘send me the youngest and most high def and I will triple back’.
The court heard that Boulter, who was 19 at the time of the offences, also helped ‘build back up the collection’ of a person who was previously scared off by police intervention.
Judge Gibson said: “Plainly what you did merits a custodial sentence. I’m going to suspend it for a number of reasons, firstly your age and secondly your attitude as expressed in the pre-sentence report which was frank.”
Boulter, now of Moorfield Grove,Bolton, was given an 18-month jail term, suspended for two years, with a supervision requirement and ordered to take part in the internet sex offender programme.
He was also given a sexual harm prevention order and made subject to police notification requirements, both for 10 years.