A 77-year-old man who had more than 3,000 indecent photographs of girls between the ages of six and 12 on his computer has walked free from court.

Preston Crown Court was told that great-grandfather David Greenwood conversed with other paedophiles on a web chat site where the images were circulating.

Greenwood, of Fowler Height Close, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to two counts of making indecent photos of children, and three counts of possession of indecent images of children between June 2016 and June 2017.

Prosecuting, David Clarke said: "On June 13 2017, the police attended his home address in Blackburn and seized a number of electrical items.

"Police asked the defendant if he knew of a social media site called Chat Step, which he had been using to converse with others regarding images.

"Largely, the victims in the images were girls between the ages of six and 12 years old."

Mr Clarke went on to tell the court that Greenwood had used search terms such as 'young, good looking girl models', and took part in chats on Yahoo Chat with others.

When interviewed, he accepted he had been accessing these sites and downloading images for 10 years, but had deleted a number of them and no longer had access to them.

Mr Clarke said that police had needed to use specialist software in order to find the images that had been deleted.

Defending, Isobel Thomas said: "My client has no previous convictions. He admitted these offences and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

"He has remorse for his involvement in these offences, in relation to the children who were the victims and to those around him.

"Since his arrest he has had time to reflect on this and his behaviour.

"He can see that those children were victims and for a period of time in which he was viewing the images he detached himself from what he was seeing.

"He sees now that those children were real children who were being harmed and he is devastated at his behaviour.

"He put that part of himself in a box and has admitted he would never harm a child he came into contact with in the physical world.

"He has grandchildren and great grandchildren and there has never been any concern about his behaviour towards them.

"He hasn't committed any further offences since his arrest more than two years ago."

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Judge Simon Medland sentenced Greenwood to a two-year community order, with 30 days of rehabilitation, and gave him a five-year sexual harm prevention order.

He also ordered destruction of Greenwood's computer.