Prosecutor Laura Nash said the offences came to light when the defendant’s work phone was sent in for repair.
Miss Nash said: “The engineer immediately identified there were images that were illegal. The police were contacted and officers attended the defendant’s address in Elliot Road, Fenton. Officers seized another phone and a computer tower.”
In total officers found 54 category A images – the most serious – four at category B and 13 at category C.
Miss Nash said the defendant told police his career goal was to work in child protection and he had downloaded the images from the ‘dark web’ for research purposes. He described it as a ‘silly mistake’.
Heslop, of Ballinson Road, Blurton, pleaded guilty to three offences of possessing indecent images of children.
Judge Jinder Singh Boora sentenced Heslop to 12 months in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for two years, with a rehabilitation activity requirement for 10 days, a sex offenders’ programme for two years and 200 hours unpaid work.
Judge Boora said: “It is people like you causing these children to be abused.
“In your interview you made full admissions of guilt. However you said you downloaded them for research purposes. That is patent nonsense.
“But in the pre-sentence report I see signs of hope. In particular, you admit to what effect these offences would have had on the children and you show remorse. That gives me some hope you are on the road to rehabilitating yourself.”
Heslop was made the subject of a five year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and was placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. He was ordered to pay £340 costs.