A FORMER Royal Navy serviceman who downloaded hundreds of child porn images escaped a jail sentence on Monday at Lincoln Crown Court.
John Shill was arrested after police, acting on a tip-off, raided his home at South Witham in October 2010.
Sarah Lloyd, prosecuting, said the officers seized a computer memory stick, which was found to have 2,973 indecent images of children. A further 181 indecent images were on a laptop.
The images featured girls as young as 10 years old. All but 10 of the images were in the two least serious categories.
Miss Lloyd said: “The defendant was interviewed and he admitted downloading the images and saving them. He said he had not found the images sexual but thought the girls looked pretty. He accepted that he knew what he was doing was illegal.”
Shill, 50, of Manor Court, South Witham, admitted four charges of making an indecent image of a child and two charges of possession of indecent images of a child on October 1, 2010.
He was given a community order with three years supervision and placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years.
Judge Peter Clark told him: “It gives me no pleasure to see you here. You had a distinguished career in the Navy and you are a grandparent.”
Mark Watson, defending, said Shill spent 19 years in the Navy serving in both the Falklands War and in the Gulf conflict.
He said Shill had no previous convictions.