AN elderly Birchwood man has avoided jail after being caught by police with extreme child sex material on his phone.

David Walton, 69, appeared in Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday, facing charges of possessing and making illicit images of children. ‘Making illicit images of children’, is a legal term referring to the act of downloading the images and/or videos.

Prosecuting, Ian Criddle told the court how the Birchwood man had, between Nov 13, 2020, and Nov 15, 2020, downloaded seven illicit images of children on three different occasions.

These seven images varied in severity, with three being ‘category A’, the most severe, involving penetration of minors.

Of this trio of the most horrific content Walton downloaded, two were videos, and all of the content downloaded by him were of children aged between six and seven.

Mr Criddle went on to say that, due to police intelligence, a search warrant was acquired, and the 69-year-old was arrested. On a further search of his mobile phone, which was seized, the child sex material was found.

On this phone, it was found the images and videos were downloaded automatically in a WhatsApp conversation.

Mr Criddle said the ‘WhatsApp chat demonstrates a sexual interest in young children’ by Walton.

Walton, who resides at Aldewood Close, in Birchwood, was interviewed twice, initially denying the offences, and claiming memory loss.

The defendant later admitted to the offences however during a second police interview on June 12, 2022. This was his first-ever appearance in court.

In a discussion as to whether a community order would be appropriate, or whether a custodial sentence was required, Mr Criddle acquiesced that, ‘in a world where defendants frequently have 1000s of images, he has seven. He hasn’t gone trawling the internet.’

He went on to say: “I am not in any way looking to minimise the seriousness of all offending of this nature.”

Defending Walton, Fiona McNeill reiterated the small number of downloaded images, claiming that after an ‘awful mistake,’ he had realised how wrong downloading the child sex material was.

She went on to say how the defendant had a stroke in March of 2020, immediately prior to lockdown, and said he had suffered from isolation as a result.

She described the defendant's offending as ‘a short-lived curiosity’ and pointed to his isolation as the reason for his offending.

Judge Recorder Lamb, presiding over the case, said that ‘whilst the custody threshold had been passed’, due to the numerous mitigating factors Walton’s punishment could be managed by a high-level community order.

The Birchwood man received 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days, a £260 pound fine, and will be required to allow his electronic devices to be monitored by police.