A paedophile who had more than 72,000 images and videos of children has been spared jail.

Paul Stephens, 53, was caught when police tracked his IP address accessing websites with pictures of young boys.

Officers visited his home in Withdean Court, London Road, Brighton, where they arrested him on June 26 last year.

Stephens had 72,188 images in total including 5,887 category A images which are the most severe.

Sussex Police found an external hard drive in his home filled with images and videos when they arrested him.

There were 4,302 category B images and 61,887 category C images. There were also 298 category C, 320 category B and 1,254 category A videos.

Sharn Mardner, prosecuting, said: “He became addicted to watching videos of teenagers on webcams. He admits he was complicit in the exploitation of children.”

The images ranged over a span of seven years.

Lewes Crown Court sitting in Brighton heard that Stephens was watching videos between four to five times a week.

Stephens, wearing a black shirt and blue spotted tie, was described as a man of good character who pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.


To have access to all of our best stories subscribe to The Argus here

Judge Christine Henson KC gave him a 12-month suspended sentence for the category A images, seven months suspended for the category B images and four months suspended for the category C images.

These offences were suspended for two years.

The court heard that Stephens did not distribute or produce any of the images.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of making an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child and possessing a prohibited image of a child.

Stephens will have to undertake 20 rehabilitation days and be on the sex offenders register for ten years. He will also be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

Stephens has to pay £150 in costs and all his devices will be destroyed.