A former policeman has escaped a prison sentence after he admitted possessing nearly 9,000 indecent images of children.
Pc Stephen McGoldrick, 50, quit Gloucestershire Police after he was charged with five counts of making indecent images of children.
He appeared at Bristol Crown Court to be sentenced after previously admitting the offences.
McGoldrick, of Gadlys Street, Aberdare, South Wales, was sentenced to an 18-month community order with 40 days of rehabilitation and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, also placed McGoldrick on the sex offenders register for five years and made him the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the same period.
Passing sentence, the judge said: “These were abhorrent images which I believe you now acknowledge and understand have real victims.
“You have fallen from grace in a massive way due to your former employment as a police officer. You have shown considerable remorse.
“You must understand that I impose this sentence because I have concluded there is a good prospect of rehabilitation which can be best achieved through a community order rather than a custodial sentence.
“You fall into a category where the public will be better served by this type of sentence.”
The court heard that indecent images were recovered from a mobile phone belonging to McGoldrick when police were investigating a separate matter in April this year.
Further inquiries were carried out and search warrants were executed at two addresses in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and in Aberdare, South Wales, in June.
Several electronic devices were recovered, and when they were examined, experts found a total of 8,519 indecent images - five at category A, eight at category B and the remainder at category C.
Category A indecent images of children include penetrative sexual activity, sexual activity with an animal or sadism, Category B images are of non-penetrative sexual activity and Category C images are ones which involve erotic posing.
McGoldrick, who had joined Gloucestershire Police in 2008, resigned before he was charged in July and pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court last month.
James Haskell, defending, said: “The convictions have already had significant consequences for him.
“He knows he has forever lost his good character and is ashamed to have put his family through what he has.”
Haskell explained that McGoldrick had gone through significant personal difficulties in recent years, supporting his partner financially through a protracted custody battle, leading to him accruing debts of £36,000.
The court heard McGoldrick also struggled to deal with his partner developing cancer, the death of his elder brother and his mother’s ill health.
“All of this left him at almost breaking point and led him to accessing illegal pornography,” Haskell said.
“He knows it was wrong but was clearly in a very bad way and in his own words, he was on a path to self-destruction.”
Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Inspector Chris Hanson said: “McGoldrick was suspended as soon as the allegations came to light, and following his arrest and our investigation he was charged with these offences and brought before the court today.
“Police officers are expected to protect people, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, such as children. I’m pleased to say this man, who has betrayed both the public and his colleagues, will never hold such office again.
“These serious offences involved the abuse of innocent children, a horrendous crime which seems to be even more so when committed by a person who is in a position of trust and knows the devastating impact child abuse has.”
This comes days after a Metropolitan Police officer, who used a grieving father’s cable TV account to download pornography while waiting for an undertaker, was jailed for 12 months.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.