An ex-policeman who was found in possession of more than 8,000 indecent images of minors has managed to evade prison.
PC Stephen McGoldrick, 50, quit the Gloucestershire Police force after he was exposed and charged for producing child pornography.
Despite previously admitting his guilt, his appearance at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday saw McGoldrick sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid community service, an 18-month community order and five years on the sex offenders register.
The judge residing over the case, Peter Blair, QC, heard of how inappropriate and illegal images were taken from McGoldrick’s phone while the police were looking into an unrelated matter earlier this year.
A search of McGoldrick’s address found several electronic devices, which when investigated, were found to contain 8,519 indecent images of children.
After 11 years serving the Gloucestershire Police, McGoldrick resigned before he could be formally charged in July.
Judge Blair, the Recorder of Bristol said: “These were abhorrent images which I believe you now acknowledge and understand have real victims.
“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.
The judge added: “You fall into a category where the public will be better served by this type of sentence.”
McGoldrick’s defence lawyer, James Haskell, said the ex-copper had gone through a lot of personal issues in recent times, including a messy custody battle with his ex-partner which had led to over £30,000 of debt.
The court also heard of how the offender struggled with sickness and death in his family, which his lawyer said had “led him to accessing illegal pornography.”
Haskell added: “The convictions have already had signifiant consequences for him. He knows he has forever lost his good character and is ashamed to have put his family through what he has.
“He knows it was wrong but was clearly in a very bad way and, in his own word, he was on a path to self-destruction.”