Published: 10:17, 26 November 2010
A pervert going through a sex change downloaded thousands of sick child sex images - yet walked free from court.
A judge said he was prepared "in the special circumstances of this case" to suspend 10 months imprisonment for 18 months.
He added Gillian Newley, who will also have to attend a sex offenders' programme, had escaped an immediate prison sentence "by a whisker".
The 52-year-old, formerly of Darnley Road, Strood, admitted 14 charges of possessing indecent photographs of children.
Formerly called Graham, she claimed she looked at the pictures to find out what it might have been like growing up as a girl.
Newley, who has not yet had a full sex change but has lived as a woman since 2000, was caught with more than 14,000 images on a laptop computer in October last year.
Jo Cope, prosecuting, said 13,760 were at the lowest level of one. There were 47 at level two, 423 at level three, 264 at level four and 32 at the highest level of five.
"She said she looked at the images as she wanted to know what it would be like to be a female child, as she missed out on that," said the prosecutor.
"She said she had been doing it for about four years. She said she did not do it for sexual gratification but out of curiosity"
Lynn Griffin, defending, said Newley, now of West Ham, East London, had been deemed suitable for the one-to-one programme. "She has a unique personal situation," she added.
Judge Jeremy Gold QC told Newley: "I am prepared in the special circumstances of this case to deal with you in a rather lenient way.
"I have some sympathy with the situation in which you find yourself and your confusion over your sexual identity and sexual matters generally.
"But you have to understand that accessing these images on the internet perpetuates the abuse of children.
"If you offend again I will have no alternative but to send you to prison, however uncomfortable that may be for you."
The judge added: "This is being done to allow you to come to terms with the difficulties you have and so that you do not offend in this way again.
"If you do, you know what is awaiting you."