A Co Down man who admitted possessing indecent images of children and sharing them online has avoided prison.
Nathan Samuel Francis Orr was yesterday ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and placed on probation for two years by Judge Geoffrey Miller QC.
The 25-year-old father-of-one, from Dakota Avenue in Newtownards, will also be on the sex offenders' register for 10 years, and was made the subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
As he was sentenced at Downpatrick Crown Court, it emerged that after Orr began to find mainstream porn 'boring', his desire for illicit material increased and he joined an online 'porn group' that shared indecent images of children.
When Orr's home was searched in January 2017, officers seized items including a mobile phone, laptop and tablet.
When the devices were examined, indecent images of children - in the form of both photographs and movie files - were located.
It also emerged from the examinations that Orr had been involved in online chats with others about distributing and trading images.
He pleaded guilty to 11 separate charges, including both possessing and distributing indecent images of children, as well as possessing an extreme pornographic image.
When Orr spoke to a probation officer about his offending, he said he accessed the images during periods of binge drinking, and when he was feeling lonely and depressed.
Orr told probation that while he found the images sexually arousing, he denied having a sexual interest in children. He also expressed disgust in himself and said he now realises what he was doing was wrong.
Judge Miller noted that Orr was unemployed and on benefits, and had mental health issues.
Also noted was Orr's clear criminal record, and a complete lack of offending since his arrest three and a half years ago.
Addressing Orr - who appeared at the remote hearing via a videolink with his solicitor's office -Judge Miller said: "The internet opens many positive windows on the world, but on the other hand it is a very dangerous mechanism. It can allow access to more dangerous avenues which encourage young minds such as yours to effectively click and click and click without perhaps appreciating that these sorts of pictures represent real victims," he added.
After imposing a combination order, the judge said part of Orr's period on probation should include addressing the issues which motivated his sexually deviant behaviour.
Judge Miller warned Orr that if he reoffended within the next two years, he would have "no hesitation" in revoking the order and imposing an immediate jail term.