A CONVICTED sex offender who gave into temptation when he found his new computer could access child pornography websites has been given a suspended prison sentence.

After a previous conviction three years ago trainee chef Matthew Adams, 26, was banned from owning any computers not protected by police-approved software to stop him looking at porn sites.

But when he traded in his old laptop at a Kendal computer store he discovered that the second-hand replacement he bought had no such software installed, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

So, in the fortnight it took the police to install the security software at his home in Back of the Fell Road, Lindale, near Grange-over-Sands, he took the opportunity to search for pictures of children in sexual poses, prosecuting counsel David Polglase said.

Adams, a former Kendal College student, was later found to have conducted 578 separate searches for child porn on his new computer, he said.

The court heard that Adams told police: “Temptation got the better of me.”

On Monday Adams pleaded guilty to 26 offences of making indecent photographs of children by downloading them onto his computer.

He also admitted two charges that, by owning such a computer and using it to access the internet, he had broken the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order imposed on him when, in December 2009, he was given a three-year Community Order after he was convicted of 24 similar offences.

Mr Polglase told the court that in early December last year Adams had phoned the police, telling them – as he was obliged to do – that he had bought a computer and asking them to fit it with the monitoring software.

But when two officers – DC Craig Wakefield and PC Maurice Wright - arrived at his home to do the job more than a week later they were unable to do it because for some reason Adams could not connect his computer to the internet, he said.

When they made a follow-up visit on December 20 a phrase popped up automatically on the search bar, showing that Adams had been using it to search for child pornography, Mr Polglase said.

The court heard police then found 138 indecent images of children - including 37 of category four, the second highest category in the official five-category classification of seriousness.

In mitigation defence barrister Alison Whalley said Adams realised he needed help and had already paid to go privately for psychotherapy.

She said that although being sent to prison would undoubtedly serve as a punishment, it would do nothing to give him the rehabilitation he obviously needed.

The judge, Recorder Howard Bentham QC, agreed and imposed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and put Adams under probation supervision for two years.

He also banned him from having unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 and from using any computer other than those he might use at a Job Centre while looking for work.

He said that though the pictures Adams had downloaded were “disgusting and deeply troubling”, this was the best way of protecting the public from “the behaviour of a man whose predilections are so offensive to society.”