A MAN walked free from court after becoming one of the first people in the country to be prosecuted under new laws that ban the possession of extreme pornographic images.

St Helens Magistrates’ Court heard how the obscene photographs - depicting women and a number of animals - came to light after the 20-year-old sent his computer for repair.

An engineer spotted the pictures and suspecting them to be unlawful reported it to his line manager, who in turn passed it on to the police.

The 14 images were said to be “grossly offensive and disgusting” .

District Judge Ian Lomax said the offender had “low social skills”, and believed he had merely viewed the images out of curiosity.

Judge Lomax, who had been shown the images involved in the prosecution, explained: “This is new legislation and my inclination is for it to go before crown court.

“However no fee was paid, there was no file sharing and no processing. The images were obscene and curiosity seems to be the driving force behind you.

“Your computer skills are good and you stay home a lot. Computers are a substitute for socialising and social skills. But nothing will be gained by sending you into custody, because you wouldn’t survive because you would be vulnerable. Support and assistance is needed.”

He was given an 18-month supervision order and 24 hours at an attendance centre, where his offending behaviour will be addressed. He must also pay costs of £65, which will be deducted from his benefits.

Judge Lomax said he would not have to sign the Sex Offenders Register, concluding: “Hopefully supervision will make you realise that it is possible that by looking at such images, whether it is out of curiosity, can result in a criminal conviction.”