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A former soldier from Houghton Regis has escaped a jail term after he was found with more than 45,000 child abuse images.
Kevin Crump's sordid collection of young children being sexually abused ran to 45,896 images he had downloaded from the Internet.
Some of the sickening photos police discovered were of extremely young children being abused while they were restrained.
At Luton crown court, Crump, who was living with his wife in Stubbs Lane, Houghton Regis when police arrived, pleaded guilty to six offences of making indecent photos of children, three of possessing indecent images of children, possessing an extreme pornagrpahic image and one offence of possessing prohibited images of children.
Daniel Siong prosecuting said it was 7am on the morning of February 16 last year when police arrived at the defendant's Houghton Regis home.
Judge Philip Bartle, hearing the case, was told that when officers told Crump they were there because it was believed someone at the address had been using file sharing software to download images, he replied "Everything you said is true, it looks like I am going to prison for a long time."
Computer equipment at his home was seized and the sick material was discovered.
The 53 year old made a full and frank admission to the police, saying he had hidden the material on his computer so that his wife wouldn't find it.
He admitted he would download it and tend look at the material when his wife wasn't home.
Judge Bartle was told that some of the children pictured were as young as one year old.
Charlotte O'Connor, defending, said crump had served 22 years in the armed services and had served with the UN and NATO in war torn regions around the world.
She said Crump, who is an IT manager, had taken steps himself to address his behaviour and had attended a counselling course.
The court was told the defendant's wife was sticking by him.
Miss O'Connor said "he tells me that in a way the police arriving on his doorstep is one of the best things that happened because he has been able to break the cycle.
She said since the police raid last year, Crump and his wife had gone to live in South Yorkshire so he could care for his elderly parents.
"He wants to put this behind him," said the barrister.
Passing sentence, Judge Bartle said the children involved in the images had been extremely young and he went on "In some cases they were restrained when sexual acts were committed on them by adults."
The judge said crump had lost his job because of his sordid activities, but he said he taken the unusual step of seeking out out help to tackle his behaviour.
"You were in the army for 22 years and you served in some very difficult areas of the world and you were witness to the terrible atrocities which regrettably soldiers see during the course if their lives in the services."
The judge said he had concluded that, based on everything he had heard, he could pass a suspended prison sentence.
He sentenced Crump to 16 months imprisonment suspended for two years and placed him under the supervision of the probation service for the same period.
He was told he must attend a sex offenders programme and he will also be the subject of a sexual offences prevention order for the rest of his life.
Crump was told he will have to pay £545 prosecution costs.
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