A police trainer has been handed a 12-month probation order after admitting possessing indecent images of children.
David Patterson (54) pleaded guilty at Downpatrick Crown Court to possessing three indecent images of children and one extreme pornographic image.
The court heard PSNI officers who searched his home at 9.25am on June 27, 2018, recovered an iPad.
Arrested and questioned, Patterson, of Victoria Avenue in Newtownards, denied having indecent images of children and refused to answer questions about his internet usage.
At a second interview, he said he intended to use the images, which he saved from a social media platform, on training courses with police.
A pre-sentence report said the defendant suffered bullying at school because of his sexual orientation and that he had been in a relationship for 35 years, 12 of them as a married man.
At the time of his arrest, Patterson, who has been a police trainer for 37 years, was on stress-related sick leave. He was subsequently suspended.
Probation officers assessed him as having a low likelihood of reoffending and decided he posed no danger to the public.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said the defendant’s offending had taken place over a two-week period. No videos were involved and none of the child images were in the most serious category.
Given the small number of images and Patterson’s clear record, the judge said the custody threshold had not been passed and that he would be placed on probation to deal with his "risk-taking behaviour''.
The defendant was also placed on the sex offenders' register and made the subject of Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), both for a period of five years.