A THREE Towns man who hoarded some of the sickest examples of child abuse images has dodged jail.

Steven McArthur, 31, returned to court this week [Tuesday, September 15] after he was arrested for hoarding the horrific images at his home in Saltcoats.

McArthur, now residing in Weir Street, Greenock, pled guilty to taking or permitting to take or make indecent photographs or pseudo photographs of children between September 27 2018 and August 23 2019 at his address in Boyd Orr Road.

He also admitted possessing indecent photographs on various occasions between September 27 2018 and August 29 last year.

McArthur pled guilty to both offences when he appeared in court on Monday, March 30.

When he returned to court for sentencing this week, Sheriff Alistair Watson told the court he was concerned about both the number of images and of those in the most serious category of abuse.

Defence Solicitor Peter Murray said: “He has no record and nothing outstanding. He is now 31, single and resides in Greenock. He is a man of a good work record although presently unemployed and receiving Universal Credit.”

Regarding his sickening ‘compulsion’ he added: “He is ashamed of his conduct and recognises these are not victimless crimes. He recognises indulging in and viewing these images brings misery to children.

“He has no previous convictions, he cooperated with police and made them aware of his plea early.”

Sheriff Alistair Watson said: “This is borderline, the number of images is concerning – more concerning is the category of images with some at the absolute worst”, adding that ‘with some hesitation’ he would ‘step back’ from custody.

He sentenced McArthur to a community payback order with supervision for three years and added him to the Sex Offender’s Register.

He was also given a conduct requirement to inform his supervisor of any arrests, changes to his address or plans to travel outside the UK.

He must also report any phone numbers or electronic devices, inform of any serial numbers and passwords and not delete internet history.

Sheriff Watson added: “Be in no doubt this is not the end of the road, only the next step. If you fail, you will be back before me and in prison.”