A HELENSBURGH pervert who was found in possession of thousands of sickening indecent images of children has been spared a prison sentence.

Jeremy Mason’s stash of 17,000 images, amassed over a period of three years, was discovered when police raided his home in the town last September.

Some of the images featured children as young as five years of age.

The 51-year-old, who has no previous convictions, appeared for sentencing at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Friday, July 26 after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge of being in possession of the indecent images at his flat in East King Street between September 7, 2015 and the same date three years later.

Sentence had been deferred for social work reports following Mason’s previous appearance in court in June.

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His solicitor, Gail Campbell, told Sheriff William Gallacher: “He is well aware that being of previous good character, and having a good job, does not negate the seriousness of the matter.

“He is also well aware that your Lordship knows that certain individuals say certain things in social work reports because they are the right things to say.

“I would submit, however, that in this case the content of the social work report is an accurate representation of his position.

“The only person responsible for this is himself. He has not done anything to suggest he was influenced by others.

“He asked my office if there were any organisations separate from the court who could assist him. I put him in touch with such an organisation, and he seems to have been a proper participant.

“None of this good work, in any sense, makes what he did okay, because, quite frankly, it is not okay.

“The writer of the social work report has questioned Mr Mason carefully, indicating that he is a gentleman who would be suitable for a non custodial disposal.

“He has indicated he will comply fully.”

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Mason, who appeared in the dock wearing a blazer and tie, was told by Sheriff Gallacher: “You have, very deliberately and with some skill, set about seeking to access this material.

“This is not neutral. This is behaviour which has a considerable and long-standing impact on a great number of people.

"Many are very young and will have their lives affected, long beyond their childhood, by the actions of people who seek to access this material, and who do so deliberately.

“Your behaviour has been very extensive. Because of the very significant quantity of material you amassed, I considered whether I had any option other than to send you to prison.

“Were I to do that, because of your lack of previous convictions and your plea of guilty, any such period of imprisonment would be limited.

“It may be that the community benefits more by my imposing on you a community payback order [CPO].

“On those circumstances alone, and in view of your willingness to engage, I am persuaded that I can avoid a custodial sentence.”

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Mason’s CPO will see him supervised by social workers for three years; he will also be banned from having any unsupervised contact with any person aged under 16 without the permission of his supervising officer.

He will also be required to make available any internet-enabled device for inspection, and was told not to delete his online browsing history.

In addition he was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work – the maximum available under the law – within 12 months.

“I am persuaded not to send you to prison,” Sheriff Gallacher added, “but I am not persuaded to moderate the penalty at all.

“If you fail to comply, I will send you to prison.”

Mason was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for three years.