A Carleton man who viewed indecent images of underage girls on his computer has been given a community sentence by Skipton magistrates.

Stuart Finnie, 49, admitted in March possessing 13 images of underage girls of a grade one severity, the lowest in a scale of one to five, and three images at a level two.

He further admitted a composite charge of possessing a further 199 images, mostly of level one, but also including level two. All of the offences took place on February 1 or February 2, 2011.

On Monday, following a pre-sentence report, Finnie was given a two-year community order with 18 months’ supervision.

He will also have to take part in an accredited programme, as instructed by the probation office, and sign the sexual offenders’ register.

The court heard that Finnie, of Westwood, had originally been questioned in February last year when his computer, laptop and other equipment was seized by police.

The indecent images, of the same unknown two ten or 11-year-old girls, were discovered in the recycle bin on his Apple computer tower.

He told police that he had been directed to a file sharing website, where the images had been.

Finnie, who confirmed he was the only person using the computer, said he had deleted the images.

He also told police that he got no sexual gratification from the images but he had been abused as a child and wanted to understand the nature of what had happened to him.

In mitigation, Glen Maude said Finnie used his computer for a great many purposes including banking, holidays and cultural research.

She said he accepted that he had downloaded the images, but having realised what they were, clicked his delete button and they had gone into his recycling bin, to be dealt with by his CCleaner system.

Miss Maude said there was nothing to suggest he had shared the images and they had not been something he had been searching for.

She added an aggravating feature was that the images were of girls under 13 years old, but the girls were unknown to the police and could be anywhere in the world.

Miss Maude said Finnie, who is in full time employment, was undertaking counselling and had the support of a small group of close friends.

Since admitting the charges in March, he had signed the sexual offenders register as an interim measure and been subjected to regular visits from the police.

Magistrates said they had taken into account character references, the fact he had no previous offences, his early guilty plea and that the majority of images were at the lowest level.

But they pointed out the viewing of indecent images of children was a serious matter because of its potential to support a worldwide market.

Finnie was also ordered to pay £100 costs and a destruction order was made on the computer tower.

An application by the police for the placing of a sexual offenders’ prevention order was rejected by magistrates on the grounds it was thought excessive and unnecessary.