A retired Army major from Bath who posed as a woman to chat with paedophiles on the internet then downloaded indecent images of children has walked out of court with a community order.
Charity worker Peter George’s “deviant and repulsive” behaviour came to light when Metropolitan Police officers who were tracing perpetrators of internet child abuse tracked him to his office in Bath.
The 64-year-old, of Lansdown Road, who at the time was manager of the Genesis Furniture Project in Oldfield Park, masqueraded as a woman called Angela and downloaded 374 lewd images of children over six years.
At Bristol Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to 15 charges of making indecent photographs of children.
He was told he could have been sent to jail but sentencing had been adjourned so that his suitability for a sex offenders’ programme could be assessed.
George, who was supported in court by his wife who sat in the public gallery, was given handed a three-year community order with the requirement that he completes an internet sex offenders treatment programme.
He will also be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years and was ordered to pay £275 towards prosecution costs.
George has stepped down from his job with the charity but a letter of support was sent to the court.
Sentencing George, Judge Michael Longman told him his behaviour would strike decent people as deviant and repulsive.
“You have pleaded guilty to 15 charges of making indecent photographs.
“There were relatively few in number compared to other cases of this nature. Never the less there are real concerns I have in your case.
“They arise firstly from the period of time over which your behaviour that resulted in you making these images continued and the manner in which you came by them and your conduct in internet chat rooms with those who purported to be paedophiles as you were purporting to be yourself.
“This is behaviour that will strike decent people as deviant and repulsive.
“There remains a concern that you may cross the boundary from fantasy to actual contact, although I note you shake your head.”
The court heard that the defendant had also taken part in “graphic dialogue” about abusing girls and received 250 indecent images of children aged from three to 14 at the same time.
George’s barrister Andrew Banks, had told the court last week that his client had offended when he was at a low ebb with his relationships.
Mr Banks said his client had had to face some home truths over the previous week.
He said George had explained what he had done to his wife and family and was in a better position to look at his motivation and to receive help.
George, who was smartly dressed in a double-breasted grey suit, left court hand in hand with his wife.