A Powys man has received a suspended prison sentence for keeping dozens of indecent images and videos on his mobile phones showing children as young as two years old being sexually abused.

The judge who sentenced 53-year-old Andrew Higgins to 10 months imprisonment but suspended it for two years described the offences as "frankly disturbing".

Higgins, of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, was caught after police raided his home and found 50 videos and 40 images on his phones - almost half of which were classed as the most serious Category A classification.

His Honour Judge Rhys Rowlands told Higgins: "Your family and others cannot understand how a man such as yourself could behave in frankly such a disgusting way."

Police officers searched Higgins' home last summer and took a laptop storing "extreme" pornography, and two mobile phones with indecent images and videos of children.

Messages found on his phone revealed he had distributed a Category B video of a man sexually abusing a pre-teen girl.

Mold Crown Court was told that three of the most serious images showed a man sexually abusing a toddler, and two videos showed a man performing a sex act on a girl aged between six and eight. Another showed a man sexually abusing a pre-teen girl.

Higgins admitted the offences to police on the same day his home was searched, which the court was told was “unusual”.

County Times:

Dafydd Roberts, defending, told the court that the 53-year-old was aware of the serious nature of the offences and that he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

"He is not staying silent as is often, that's not the case here," Mr Roberts said. "He's admitted what he's doing, and it was confirmed months later.

"He behaved very, very badly and needs to address that behaviour."

Mr Roberts added that Higgins' partner was in court to "hear for herself what had happened".

"They live separately, and the status of the relationship is not clear," he said, adding that Higgins "wants to engage with rehabilitation".

"He has a good work ethic, but he struggled with his mental health and had not dealt with it appropriately then suffered a breakdown in 2021.

"It's important to note that he is assessed as low risk of reconviction, and he opened up [to the pre-sentence report author] about what he was doing."

Sentencing Higgins to 10 months imprisonment but suspending it for two years, Judge Rowlands said: "Although the number is, sadly, not particularly large in comparison to what is seen in this court nor is it a modest number, these are frankly disturbing offences.

"It's clear from the report that you had been accessing material for a significant period of time."

He added: "The matters are so serious that they cross the custody threshold and do so significantly.

"The choice is quite stark: either an immediate custodial sentence or a longer period under supervision of the probation service. I am persuaded to the latter. If you miss appointments or cause any offences of any nature you will be before this court and go to prison."

Higgins, of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, must now be registered as a sex offender and be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years. He must pay £500 costs and complete 15 rehabilitation requirement days.