A PERVERT who admitted owning 296 images of children was also found to have child's underwear, hairbands and stickers in his possession.

Paul David Stuckey, 27, was sentenced to 12 months in prison at Chester Crown Court – but Judge Patrick Thompson chose to suspend the sentence for two years.

He said the public interest would be better served by making Stuckey take an intensive course aimed at addressing his “sick interest in children”.

But the judge also ordered him to sign on the sex offenders' register for 10 years and made him the subject of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) for the same duration.

Under the terms of the order, Stuckey must never be unaccompanied in the presence of children and can only access the internet under strict conditions authorised by the police.

The judge told him: “You have a dark and sinister side to you, and a disturbing side, that needs to be addressed.

“It says in your [pre-sentence] report that you are disgusted with yourself – I hope that is the case.”

The court heard that Stuckey's sister and mother had alerted police after finding “items relating to children” including underwear, hairbands and stickers.

Police searched his bedroom at the family home on Belgrave Drive, Ellesmere Port, and found 296 images of youngsters aged between five and 16 on a number of devices – including nine of the most serious category A.

Prosecuting, Mandy Nepal said Stuckey had also distributed 14 category C images to “friends” he had made on an internet pornography forum – some of which he had taken the time to photoshop.

“I would describe them as perverts, not friends,” the judge interjected.

Stuckey admitted seven charges, but had denied one of outraging public decency by taking secret photos of female colleagues' bottoms at his former place of work in Chester.

He denied any sexual motive in taking the pictures and the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was no public interest in taking the matter further, given his guilty pleas to the indecent images charges.

Chris Hunt, defending, said Stuckey had been a recluse who spent half of his life downloading pornography but had now “turned a corner”.

“He accepts he has got a problem,” Mr Hunt said. “He wants help.”

Besides the sex offenders' programme, Stuckey, who has no previous convictions, must also carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and undertake a 35-day rehabilitation activity.

The judge warned him that any breach of his suspended sentence or SHPO would land him in jail.