A MAN who was found with indecent images of children, including a video of someone believed to five years old, avoided a prison sentence.

Sam Sidney Berty Stevens was handed a community order at Bournemouth Crown Court with a requirement to undergo a sexual offenders treatment programme.

Devices belonging to the 32-year-old were found to contain more than 200 photographs of child sex abuse, along with a video.

This material included 76 category A images – the most serious.

Stevens, of Magna Road, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of possessing indecent images of children.

At a sentencing hearing on May 14, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said: "The seriousness of these offences cannot be overstated.

"What aggravates this particular offending is the age of the children."

Ryan Murray, prosecuting, said police attended the defendant's home in early September last year after they had been alerted to suspicious activity on an IP address linked to him.

A search of the property led to several electrical devices being seized and analysed.

Mr Murray said indecent images of children were found on Stevens's iPhone, iPad and Samsung tablet.

In addition to the 76 category A images, one of which was a video, there were 73 category B images and 63 category C images.

Mr Murray said the child in the video was estimated to be "about five years of age", with photographs found of children 10 and under.

The prosecutor said "sexual chats" on platform Kik were also recovered with accounts "who had disclosed their age being between 13 and 16".

There was no evidence of these profiles being operated by children, the court heard. In police interview, the defendant said these were "fantasy rather than anything he would act upon".

Mr Murray said Stevens told officers he had been "looking at things on and off over the years" and he was "interested in the mid-teen age range and considered below 13 to be off limits".

The defendant had no previous convictions and entered guilty pleas at his first appearance in the magistrates' court.

Stevens, who was unrepresented in court, said: "I regret my actions and I know they are wrong. I just wish I never did it."

Judge Fuller QC told the defendant: "You have every reason to be ashamed of your conduct."

The judge said there was a sufficient prospect of rehabilitation as he implemented a non-custodial sentence.

He issued an 18-month community order with up 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days to complete the sexual offenders treatment programme.

Addressing Stevens, Judge Fuller QC said in his opinion this was the best way to "rid you of this desire to see images of this kind".

The judge added: "The public interest is best served by rehabilitation and you complying with the requirements of the programme."

The defendant was also placed on the sex offenders' register and issued with a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

Judge Fuller QC ordered that the seized devices must be destroyed. The Daily Echo applied for Stevens's custody image, but Dorset Police declined this request.