A pervert with a previous conviction for sexual assault has avoided jail despite his laptop containing more than 800 sordid images of young girls.
Police raided Steven Hughes’ home in Magnolia Drive, Colchester, and seized a computer.
He was not there so they attended his work and obtained the password.
Analysis showed there were 844 indecent images in total – including 85 films – and nine more prohibited images.
Some 177 of the images were classed as Category A which is deemed the most serious.
Another 173 were category B and 494 were category C.
The warrant was executed in November 2017, but Hughes, 35, was not charged until earlier this year.
Last month he admitted three counts of possession of indecent images and one count of possession of prohibited images.
A sentencing hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court heard Hughes had self-funded a treatment programme to try and stop his perverse urges. He has a previous conviction for the sexual assault of a young girl in 2005.
Judge Charles Gratwicke said his offending had crossed the custody threshold but decided to suspend the eight month sentence for two years.
He said: “Nobody looking at this case could feel anything but revulsion and disgust at the type of material you were looking at.
“The reason courts can impose custodial sentences in cases like this is to mark the revulsion society feels in respect of such images and to try and stop those further down the chain from issuing such photographs.
“If there was no market, children would not be abused.
“You are not a man of good character and the previous offences on your record are sexual.
“These offences certainly cross the custody threshold but in your favour is that you have taken steps to prevent behaving like this in the future and paid for your treatment.
“These matters have also been hanging over you for a considerable length of time.”
“You should be in no doubt that if you are tempted to reoffend, especially during the time of this suspended sentence, you will not need a crystal ball to work out where you will be going.”
Hughes must also attend 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and undertake a programme for sex offenders.
He will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order and notification requirements for seven years.
Judge Gratwicke also ordered an explanation from Essex Police as to why it took so long for Hughes to be charged.
Pervert admits viewing hundreds of images of children
A pervert with a previous conviction for sexually assaulting a young girl was found to have viewed hundreds of sickening images of children.
When investigating officers checked a device belonging to Steven Hughes, 34, they found a collection of pictures and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children.
Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard 177 of the images were of the most serious category A and all of the footage involved children up to the age of 14.
Officers also found 173 category B and 494 category C images and videos.
Andrew Young, prosecuting, said Hughes was convicted of the sexual assault of a young girl in 2005.
He urged the court to impose conditional bail with a single condition the paedophile does not attempt to contact children.
“The age range of the children in these images is extremely young – up to 14 years of age – and there is a large number of images,” he said.
“He has a previous conviction, I accept it is of some age but it is relevant and shows a pattern of this kind of behaviour.
“The only reason the defendant stopped offending is because the police arrested him, he didn’t indicate these offences were taking place over one day.
“He is a man with an interest in searching for such images and viewing them.
“There is a risk and there are fears if he is granted bail there could be further incidents.”
But Lucy Osborne, representing Hughes, argued her client had kept himself out of trouble since his arrest in November 2017.
“Mr Hughes lives with his mother and there are no young persons in the household,” she said.
“He hasn’t been subject to any of these conditions in the last 18 months and I would suggest he doesn’t need to be now.”
Hughes, of Magnolia Drive, Colchester, admitted three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing a prohibited image of a child.
Magistrates granted unconditional bail, ordering the offender to attend a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on August 29.