A sex offender who started downloading child abuse images within months of finishing a jail sentence has been sent on a course to try to change his behaviour.

James Bingham was caught with images on two phones when police raided his home which he shared with a 17-year-old partner in January last year. He tried to blame work colleagues and an ex-partner but later admitted he had downloaded them.

Police found him with a small number of new images when they went back two months later for a second raid in which they also found a small amount of cannabis.

Checks on his phones showed he had started looking at the abuse images in 2016, shortly after he was released from a 30 months sentence for trying to groom underage girls online at a time when he was living in Exeter and working in a pub.

He was given a chance to stay out of jail after a judge at Exeter Crown Court had paid for his own psychological counselling to address his interest in children during the 18 months it has taken to bring the case to court.

Bingham, aged 29, of Holsworthy, admitted making, by downloading, indecent images of children, possession of extreme pornography and personal possession of cannabis.

He was sent on a 40 session sex offenders’ treatment programme and ordered to 200 hours of unpaid community work and 30 days of rehabilitation activities under a three-year community order by Judge Stephen Climie.

He also imposed a five year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) which enables the police to monitor Bingham’s online activity and ordered him to pay £300 costs. He will also remain on the sex offenders’ register for five years.

The judge told him: “You are described in the reports as someone who wants to change their attitude. I am sceptical. If my scepticism is correct then you will be back here for breaching the SHPO sometime in the next five years and you will go to prison.”

Miss Victoria Bastock, prosecuting, said police raided Bingham’s home on January 12 and March 29, 2022 and found a total of 85 child images and two items of extreme pornography on his phones.

There were ten still and one moving image in the most serious category, which showed serious sexual abuse of children. The earliest download dated back to February 2016 and the children were aged six to 12.

Mr Ian Graham, defending, said Bingham has acknowledged he has an issue which needs addressing and has arranged for counselling to change his behaviour. The probation service have assessed him as a good candidate for rehabilitation and suitable for a sex offenders’ programme.