A prison officer who worked on a sex offenders’ wing has avoided jail after being found with around 2,000 child porn images.
Andrew Webster, of Simmons Way, Clayton-le-Moors worked at Strangeways Prison in Manchester and was arrested there after intelligence was received by police.
Officers later found a computer and USB stick at his former home address containing around 2,000 child porn images of children as young as seven or eight years old.
The 45-year-old, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to making indecent images of children and was given a three-year supervision order.
Stephen Parker, prosecuting, told Burnley Crown Court that former British Army soldier Webster was caught after police received intelligence ‘in respect of his believed involvement in viewing images of children’.
The court was told that officers arrested him at Strangeways in February last year where he was working on the sex offenders’ unit. He was transported to Burnley police station but exercised his right to silence.
Police also executed a search of his former home and seized a computer and USB sticks from the house and his car.
Mr Parker said officers from the high-tech criminal unit used forensic software and recovered around 2,000 images and a video from a computer and a USB stick.
He told the court they are ‘all of a similar type’ and showed ‘girls as young as seven or eight posing erotically either undressed or partially undressed’.
Webster was interviewed again in August last year and made admissions through a prepared statement.
Kevin Donnelly, defending, said his motives were ‘unusual’ as he did not possess them for ‘any sexual gratification’.
He told the court: “The images are at a low level in terms of the scale of which the court is familiar, although I accept there are a high volume.
“He is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder in rather unusual terms. His account is that his viewing of this material represents a form of self-harm and a way of torturing himself, a form of psychological self-harm. He is adamant he doesn’t gain any sexual gratification.”
Webster was also given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.