A MAN who confessed to his boss that he had been downloading indecent images of children has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Police were called to Robert Wilkinson's home on November 12, 2019 after fears that he had taken an overdose.

Bolton Crown Court heard that Wilkinson's manager was there and he told officers that Wilkinson has disclosed that he had pictures of young girls on his laptop.

Victoria Lewis, prosecuting, said that when 52-year-old Wilkinson woke up he appeared confused and incoherent but again told police about the images on his computer.

However, when interviewed the he denied possessing indecent images and claimed he had problems with alcohol abuse and depression.

Wilkinson, of Eastcote Walk, Farnworth, was detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act for six days and police seized his Dell laptop and other devices.

Miss Lewis told the court that a total of 1,091 indecent images of girls, aged six to 16, were found on the computer, including videos.

They comprised of 10 of the most serious category A images, seven in category B and 1,074 in category C. All were inaccessible to ordinary users, consistent with having been deleted.

Judge Timothy Stead was told that Wilkinson had searched a website known to contain images of children several times between August 2010 and March 2018, accessing albums such as Preteen001, Nudepreteengirls and Underagelove66.

Wilkinson, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to three counts of downloading indecent images of children between October 2013 and November 2019.

Martin Pizzey, defending, said Wilkinson had been struggling to come to terms with what he had been doing and was "wracked with guilt".

"He was full of shame and guilt and went about deleting the material so it wasn't accessible to him," said Mr Pizzey.

Judge Stead sentenced Wilkinson to eight months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to participate in 30 days of rehabilitation activities after concluding that the defendant has "considerable potential" for controlling his offending behaviour.

He told Wilkinson: "Having done wrong in the first place, you have almost entirely done the right thing by volunteering what it is you have been doing.

"You must understand - everybody must - that although you yourself have not had any direct contact with a child, nor indeed have you personally ordered things to take place so you could view images, it doesn't mean that you haven't played a part, however small, in the promotion of what is a truly horrible industry.

"It is fairly clear that you were very much troubled by feelings of guilt, even in advance of anybody doing anything about it."

Wilkinson was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.