A 77-YEAR-OLD Ellesmere Port man has been spared an immediate jail term after hundreds of indecent images of children were found at his home.

Robert Stride, of Church Street, had previously pleaded guilty to possessing 459 indecent images and videos of children and 1,323 extreme pornographic images.

Chester Crown Court heard on Friday, November 27 this included 74 images and 43 videos involving children aged as young as four years old in 'category A' – the most serious category of indecent images.

Prosecuting, Christopher Hopkins said there were also images of newborn children and children aged as young as two found in 'category C' of the indecent images.

In total, there were 74 indecent images and 43 videos in category A, 47 indecent images and 24 videos in category B, and 338 indecent images and seven videos in category C.

In addition, there were 1,094 images and 279 videos of extreme pornography involving animals found on Stride's computer devices.

The material had been obtained over "about 10 years", according to Stride, before police intelligence became aware in June 2018 of illegal activity tracked to an IP address at an Ellesmere Port house.

Officers visited the address on July 17, 2018 and seized all the computer equipment, including CDs, DVDs, disks and USB sticks.

When interviewed by police, Stride was questioned about the definition of indecent material, to which he replied: "Anything under the age of 11, isn't it?"

When police told him it was under the age of 18, he replied he did not know that.

He also claimed he did not have any sexual interest in children, something which the judge, Justice Michael Leeming, said: "I completely reject that," citing that there was a large collection of indecent images which had been gathered over 10 years.

Stride had no previous convictions.

Defending, Peter Barnett said Stride admitted the offences in interview and had pleaded guilty at his first crown court appearance.

Stride was 77, in poor health, with high blood pressure, a pacemaker fitted and osteoarthritis, an was previously a man of good character.

Mr Barnett called for any custodial sentence to be suspended.

Judge Leeming said Stride had lost his good character over 10 years ago when he started downloading indecent images and videos.

He said it was a serious enough case to cross the custody threshold, but he was "just about persuaded" that there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.

Stride was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years, and he must complete 40 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.

He was placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and made the subject of a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The computer equipment seized was to be forfeited.