A former Grenadier Guard who fell from grace by downloading more than 3,000 images of child sex abuse has been jailed for six months.
Peter O’Toole, of Wyatt Street, Maidstone, had deleted the pictures which ranged from the lowest level of one to the highest of five.
Maidstone Crown Court heard police went to the 57-year-old pervert’s home in October 2012 and seized his computer equipment.
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
Officers were able to recover images totalling 3,255 from them. O’Toole admitted searching for the pictures of children, saying they were deleted after he looked at them.
Alexia Zimbler, defending, said O’Toole, who admitted six offences of making indecent images of children, had gone to court prepared to go into custody.
“He has shown every indication he is capable and willing to learn from this behaviour and ensure it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
He served for 13 years in the Grenadier Guards and left with the rank of Lance Sergeant. He completed two tours in Northern Ireland.
Miss Zimbler submitted a suspended sentence could be imposed to allow assistance to be given.
But Judge Charles Byers said: “This is an awful lot of images and some of them are cruel.
“The difficulty the court has in sentencing somebody in your position is balancing your life of service and good character against the terrible wrongs that are done to children in order to provide these images so that they can be viewed.
“On rare occasions when I have had to look at some of the images it is so distressing that children are conditioned to behave in a way they do for the sexual gratification of mature adults.
“It is real children who are being abused to provide these images. That is why courts take this matter so seriously.
“I take into account your guilty plea, which goes a long way with me... and that you now appreciate that your offending is not victimless.”
Judge Byers added he was reducing the sentence because O’Toole had tried to put his house in order and “your very strong personal mitigation”.
A sexual offences prevention order was imposed and O’Toole’s name will appear on the sex offenders’ register.