A PERVERT caught with hundreds of indecent images of children has been handed a community penalty.

Martin Hiner, of Titup Hall Drive, Oxford, had already admitted three counts of making indecent images of children.

Oxford Crown Court heard at his sentencing hearing on Thursday how police first searched the 72-year old's home address on April 5 last year.

When quizzed by officers he said that he had viewed images of children but didn't believe them to be indecent, the court heard.

After he was arrested a number of electronic items including a computer, laptop and two USBs were seized, and a number of banned images were found.

Police analysts discovered two images in the most severe category - A, three in the second level of severity, category B, and 257 in the lowest category - C.

The court heard that the images depicted a mixture of boys and girls and included pre-teen as well as mid-teen children.

In mitigation, defence barrister Graham Bennett said that his client was of previous good character, having never committed any previous offences.

He added that the number of images found on the devices were largely in the least serious category with very few images in the highest category, and as such urged the court to consider a non-custodial sentence.

Sentencing, Judge Maria Lamb, agreed to hand out a community penalty and said: "I hope you realise how close you have come today to a prison sentence.

"In every one of those images lies a child who is a victim, who is at risk of harm from being exploited.

"These are not victimless crimes."

Hiner was made subject to an 18-month community order to include 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days as well as 40 hours of unpaid work.

He must also pay court costs of £510 and sign the sex offender register and be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years.