A PERVERT who downloaded indecent images of children had been babysitting little girls even though he was a registered sex offender, a court was told.

Ex-soldier Kenneth Hargadon, 60, who is on the sex offenders' register for life after being jailed for five years for sexually abusing two girls, had also been looking at pictures of clothed children on Facebook.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Hargadon, a father and grandfather, had stashed away more than 100 obscene images of children on his computer despite the fact he knew police could visit him any time. More than 20 of the pictures were at level four and three were at level five - the most serious level.

The defendant, of John Street, Clayton-le-Moors, had admitted 15 counts of possessing an indecent image of a child. He was spared jail after a judge said sex offenders' treatment was the best way to protect the public.

Stephen Parker, prosecuting, said Hargadon, who lived alone, had been subject to regular and routine visits by the Public Protection Unit.

In August last year police went to his home and found he appeared to be watching a slide show of young children on his computer. The images were not indecent, he said he had obtained them from Facebook and when police spoke to their mother she was horrified.

Mr Parker said it transpired Hargadon has been babysitting three little girls in the Hyndburn area. Their mother was unaware of his record.

Hargadon's computer was analysed by the police high-tech crime unit and they found 102 indecent images on the hard drive. The defendant was arrested last November and remained silent for most of the interview.

The hearing was told in 1999, Hargadon was locked up for five years after being convicted of 14 counts of indecent assault against two victims.