A FORMER soldier was caught with child sex abuse pictures on his mobile phone.

Blackburn magistrates heard Samuel Stephen Nuttall told police he had been in a “dark place” at the time following the breakdown of a long-term relationship.

Nuttall, 30, of Townsend Street, Haslingden, pleaded guilty to making one category A image, 10 category B images and 13 category C images of children and possessing five prohibited images of children. He was made subject to a community order for two years with 20 days' rehabilitation and ordered to pay £95 victim surcharge and £85.

He was ordered to complete a Sex Offender Treatment programme and made subject to notification requirements for five years and a sexual harm prevention order for three years.

Passing sentence District Judge John McGarva described the offences as serious.

“These are not victimless crimes,” he said. “It is not just about you getting gratification from indecent images.

“Children are being abused in these images, they are suffering and if it wasn’t for people like you there would be no market for these images and the children would not suffer.”

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said police executed a warrant at the defendant’s home after receiving information that indecent images had been uploaded to an Instagram account. The account was in the defendant’s name, with his date of birth and phone number.

He later told police he had a preference for teenage porn.

“He said he was in a very dark place and would never want to see a child hurt,” said Mrs Yates.

Lina Tsui-Cheung, defending, said Nuttall had been in the army for 10 years and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“These offences stem from the breakdown of his relationship with his ex-partner,” said Miss Tsui-Cheung.

“He has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and co-operated fully with the police following his arrest.”