A former Lancashire Police inspector from Blackburn downloaded 10 indecent images of children aged between eight and 15 in a two-month period.

Steven Sansbury, who retired from Lancashire Police in 2022, downloaded the images between January 26 and February 10, 2009, and kept them on two devices at his home.

Sansbury, 55, of Meadowfields, Blackburn, was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court today having pleaded guilty to the offences there on October 9.

He previously worked as an inspector in Accrington before taking up a post at police headquarters in Preston in 2000.

He later worked in local policing in south division, mainly in the Preston area.

Prosecuting, Philip Barnes said: “The offences occurred between January 26, 2009 and February 10, 2009, whereby the defendant made seven category B images of children between the ages of 13 and 15, and three category C images of children between the ages of eight and 15.

“At the time the defendant was a serving officer in the Lancashire Constabulary. He was arrested originally as part of an investigation into other offences, which did not proceed further.

“His home address was searched on January 7, 2021. Following his arrest, electronic devices were seized including a Siemens laptop and a backup portable hard drive. Indecent images were found across a combination of the two devices.”

Mr Barnes told the court Sansbury had accepted he had in the past downloaded pornography, though it was his belief all the models were over the age of 18 and the websites contained a disclaimer which said so.

Sansbury was of previous good character before these offences and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Mitigating, David Pojur said: “Sansbury is 55-years-old and comes before the court humiliated, having been a senior police officer for three decades finding himself in the dock.

“There are a limited number of images. There was no determined search.

“He was compliant when police attended his house and when he was interviewed.

"He has had this hanging over him since his arrest in 2021 and there has been significant strain on him and his relationship.”

Passing sentence, Judge Nicholas Dean KC said: “You served, with no doubt some distinction, as a senior police officer for many years, but the circumstances you in effect left the force in have brought significant shame on you, and this is likely to be the biggest punishment arising from how you behaved in February 2009.

“Those who are determined to access this sort of material, which sadly is all too easy to access, will do so on the internet and accumulate thousands of images.

“You kept those images in a folder and kept them for more than 10 years before this criminality was uncovered. Whatever else, it’s clear from the passage of time you are not someone who seeks out this material in any sort of consistent way.

“The recommendation in the pre-sentence report is I approach this case by way of a community order rather than any sentence of imprisonment.

"In my judgement, a community order is the correct approach to sentencing you.”

Judge Dean sentenced Sansbury to a 12-month community order with requirements of 80 hours unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Sansbury will also be subject to notification requirements for five years.