NHS worker who had child abuse images deemed 'low risk' by judge
David Bell, who is currently suspended from his role as a receptionist with the health service, had a secret collection of 29 pictures of children, aged between 6 and 14, stored on his laptop computer at home.
The 57-year-old initially claimed to police, who found the images when they raided his house in November 2016, that he had accidentally stumbled across vile abuse sites by innocently pressing on a link from a football page.
But the married dad later admitted he had viewed and shared the shocking photographs in chatrooms.
Bell, of Fountains Close, Biddick, Washington, pleaded guilty to three charges of making and possessing indecent images of children.
Newcastle Crown Court heard two of the pictures were in the most serious category of their type, one in the second and the other 26 were in the least serious.
Prosecutor Michael Bunch said: "There was evidence of the use of key word searches for the terms typical of those looking for such images which had been entered into the laptop via search engines."
Mr Recorder John Thackray sentenced Bell to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements and a seven-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and sex offender registration.
The judge told him: "These are real victims, there are real victims behind your offending.
"Those who watch this encourage those to commit the original offences."
The judge said there can be "no doubt" that Bell had a sexual interest in children but is deeply ashamed and able to be managed safely in the community.
Bell has been assessed as posing a "very low" risk.
John Wilkinson, defending, said Bell is currently suspended from his NHS role and faces a disciplinary hearing later this month.
Mr Wilkinson said: "He fully expects he will be sacked on that particular date."
Mr Wilkinson said Bell has sought professional help and counselling himself.
The court heard Bell has never been in trouble before.