A retired BBC producer has avoided jail despite possessing hundreds of indecent images of children as young as two years old.
Victor Melleney, 76, who worked on top shows including Question Time and Panorama, stored 832 indecent images of children across his laptop, desktop, two hard drives and a WIFI dongle between May 2011 and October 2018.
He gasped in relief as Judge Simon Bryan QC said the two-year prison sentence he was handing him would be suspended due to his ill health.
Disgraced Melleney admitted he was addicted to legal pornography, but said he had no interest in indecent images of children.
When he was arrested at his west London home in 2018 while wearing a dressing gown, National Crime Agency officers found the most "damning evidence" from a portable silver hard drive found in one of the pockets.
Kingston Crown Court heard 612 of the total 832 images were found on the drive, but Melleney insisted he had no idea how the illegal material got there.
The total length of the videos found was 104 hours.
The officers also found illegal stun guns belonging to Melleney.
He admitted four charges of possession of prohibited weapons for discharge of noxious gas, namely three tasers and CS gas spray, at an earlier hearing.
A jury acquitted Melleney of intentionally downloading the child sex abuse images but convicted him of possessing indecent images of children.
Judge Bryan QC suspended Melleney's jail term for two years due to poor health and a recent heart attack.
He ordered the pensioner must complete a rehabilitation activity requirement of 40 days, and be listed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.
The Judge also ordered the forfeiture and deferred destruction of his devices, as they will form part of the child protection Bichard Inquiry.
Sentencing Melleney, the Judge told him: "You are 76 years old, of poor health due to a heart condition. You had a heart attack and were intensive care for a period.
"A prison sentence would be particularly challenging. I must bear in mind the COVID-19 pandemic and the prison conditions of what would be a relatively short custodial term.
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"I bear in mind there has been a considerable impact on your friends and family. You will have to live with the disgrace and ignominy that you have brought on yourself."
Kieran Vaughan QC, in mitigation for Melleney, claimed that he was convicted of the "less serious offence" as presented to the jury, claimed he was medically vulnerable and said he worked for 30 years with an "unblemished record with the BBC".
He said: "It is not an exaggeration as a consequence of these proceedings he has lost everything dear to him.
"His life has been decimated as a consequence of it. His wife has left him. His eldest daughter does not speak to him at all. His youngest daughter has very little meaningful contact with him."
He added: "He is a lonely man living alone as a consequence of these proceedings. His life is completely unrecognisable now compared to what it was when he was arrested in 2018.
"His fall from grace from where he previously stood has been seismic."
The judge responded: "You might say he only has himself to blame."
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