A Ludgershall man is to be sentenced next month after his cache of indecent images of children was discovered following the death of his partner.

Paul Howard Thomas, of Andover Road, appeared at Salisbury Magistrates' Court having been charged with making almost 21,000 Category C images of children between May 9 2020 and December 21 2018. These are ‘images of erotic posing’ that are the least serious of the three categories of juvenile indecent images.

The 46-year-old appeared at the court on Tuesday, July 20 where he pleaded guilty to the offence. Following a brief adjournment, the prosecutor said that the number of images he was being charged with was to be reduced to 2,733.

“Thousands of the images were found in non-allocated clusters on his computer, where he was not able to access them,” he said. “2,733 were accessible, and it is these for which we now charge him.”

He said that Thomas’ cache of images was discovered after his partner passed away, and electronic equipment was returned to him.

“He [Thomas] was dating a lady who sadly passed away, and electronic items belonging to him were handed back to him by the daughter of the deceased, and it became obvious there were indecent images on them.”

He requested a pre-sentence report be prepared before sentencing from magistrates, as well as suggesting a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) be given. He said the order should prohibit Thomas from accessing internet-enabled devices unless their search history is available for inspection, while he would be forbidden from contacting children of any gender.

Mitigating, Richard Griffiths said that his client “downloaded rather than made these images,” and was of previously good character.

He said: “There have been no previous convictions for similar matters, and he has only been before the court once before on a driving matter some 19 years ago.”

Addressing magistrates, he also endorsed a pre-sentence report, saying: “While immediate sentencing sits within your powers, he has not been in court on similar charges and you will almost certainly want a report in this instance.”

He added that his client was “not opposed” to a SHPO.

Magistrates ordered that a pre-sentence report be made for Thomas, and he was remanded on unconditional bail until August 23 at 10am, when he is due back before the same court.