A PENSIONER in court on his birthday has been spared an immediate jail sentence after admitting downloading indecent images of children.

Bolton Crown Court heard how police, with a warrant, visited David Thomason's Withins Lane, Breightmet, home in October 2018 and seized computer equipment and a mobile phone.

Gavin Howie, prosecuting, told how the laptop had software installed on it to remove the user's history.

Examination of the devices revealed a total of 125 of the most serious category A images of children, 24 in category B and two category C images along with 46 comic strip style prohibited pseudo-images of children and 1,588 extreme pornographic pictures showing sexual activity with animals.

These had been downloaded between June 2016 and October 2018. Mr Howie stressed that these were the only images examiners had access to and involved children as young as four.

When interviewed by police Thomason, aged 72, initially claimed he had come across the images of children when downloading adult porn.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of making and possessing indecent images.

Mark Friend, defending, said it had taken Thomason some time to come to terms with the gravity of his crimes, which he now accepts and would welcome help from the probation service.

Judge Timothy Stead, who described Thomason as "a relatively isolated and elderly man", sentenced him to nine months in prison suspended for two years and ordered that he participate in 30 days of rehabilitation activities.

He was placed on the sex offenders' register and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years and was ordered to pay £250 towards prosecution costs.

"You are before the court on your 72nd birthday, as it turns out, having never been before a court before," the judge told him.

"The fact that you are now confronting the problem, as it is here, is promising and that enables me to suspend the term of imprisonment."