A Metropolitan Police worker from Poole and another man who discussed sexually abusing children on Twitter were told by a judge they should be "utterly ashamed" of themselves as they avoided an immediate jail sentence.

Matthew Seekings, 46, who was a control room supervisor for the largest UK police force, and co-defendant Michael Kent, 58, spoke about sexually abusing children over a period of six years.

During their conversations, around 4,000 indecent images of children were shared between April 11 2015 and June 12 2021, Birmingham Crown Court heard as the pair were sentenced on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Timothy Harrington said their conversations were "shocking, repulsive and alarming" and also included "vile" racism about black children as well as claims they had themselves committed sexual offences against children.

The pair shared images of girls in their mid-teens as well as pre-pubescent children and described to each other what they would like to do to them, Mr Harrington told the court.

It was Twitter itself which alerted the National Crime Agency (NCA) to the conversations, a move that was commended by Judge Richard Bond.

After the NCA was alerted, the duo were arrested.

Seekings, previously of Benjamin Road, Poole, and now of Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to four counts of making indecent images of children and one count of publishing an obscene article.

Kent admitted six offences related to indecent or prohibited images of children.

Defending Seekings, Jay Nutkins said his client had lost everything and was now living with his father and had a job that paid half of what he was earning in his police role, which he resigned from.

He said: "He is a man who had built a life for himself, he had a family, a good job, he was respected by his colleagues and his friends and he has lost all of that.

"He has had to move far away, he has abstained from drinking and using the internet for frivolous things.

"He has lost an awful lot because of his actions. He is incredibly sorry for the pain, the embarrassment and the damage he has caused his family and his friends.

"He is an introvert who is embarrassed by this and I have no doubt the court will not see him again."

Defending Kent of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Rebecca Da Silva said her client wanted to apologise "profusely" to the victims, the court and his family.

She said: "He has let everyone down and let himself down and he recognises the hurt he has caused.

"He doesn't wish for me to excuse his actions, I simply ask your honour to take into account his guilty plea and the fact that he was a man of good character before this came to light.

"He is keen and willing to work with the probation service and address the catalyst of this offending. He has a lot of work to do and he recognises that.

"But he is someone who will not trouble the police or the courts again. He truly is sorry."

Judge Bond said he rejected "entirely" the defendants' claims that neither of them had a sexual interest in children as he sentenced them to a three-year community order instead of sending them to prison.

He said: "Both of you contributed to conversations involving sexual abuse of children including rape and vile conversations about race. I echo what the prosecution said - these were shocking, repulsive and alarming conversations.

"Matthew Seekings, you were involved with the Metropolitan Police and it is a real concern that you were happy to carry out these offences. I have no doubt you will never work for the police again."

Addressing both defendants, Judge Bond said: "You both need to realise that the children in these images are all victims of sexual abuse that will remain with them for many years.

"People like [you] contribute to this abuse by providing a market for these images.

"You should both be utterly ashamed and embarrassed by your behaviour. The conversations about sexually abusing children were simply disgusting.

"It is not surprising that your families have ostracised you both."

Explaining that a custodial sentence would not address their "urges", Judge Bond said it was "imperative" that both defendants took part in a sexual offender treatment programme.

As well the community order, the judge said the pair must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and 60 rehabilitation activity days and subjected them to a 10-year sexual harm prevention order.

They were also ordered to pay costs of £585 within 28 days.