A former school bursar caught with indecent images on his laptop received a 12 month community order.

Paul Collins, formerly the bursar at the Haberdasher’s School in Elstree, admitted his wrongdoing when he answered the door to his home in The Ridgeway to police at seven o'clock in the morning.

Prosecutor David Chrimes told St Albans crown court that the officers asked him if he had been viewing material that he should not have been.

He said: "The defendant accepted he had and his laptop was seized. He was arrested, interviewed and made full and frank admissions.

"He said that following the death of his mother some years previously he had viewed adult pornography and came across images of young children. He accepted he started viewing it,"

The 66-year-old said he viewed girls aged 12 to 13, but some were aged 10 to 12 and one image involved a baby.

The laptop was analysed and found to contain 209 images, and Collins pleaded guilty to one charge of possessing indecent images of children.

Richard Storey, defending, said on the day of his arrest Collins sought help from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and paid £800 to attend a course. He said Collins was of previous good character and had made an early guilty plea.

Following the death of his mother in 2004 he had a period of depression made worse after his partner was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Sentencing him, Judge Marie Catterson said: "Not for the first time the court has heard that the viewing of adult pornography had led to the viewing of pornography of another kind. You should not have viewed images of this kind."

She gave him a 12-month community order with 12 months' supervision. Collins must pay £500 prosecution costs and his laptop is to be forfeited and destroyed.

Collins must also register as a sex offender for seven years and abide by the terms of a seven-year sexual prevention order which means his internet browsing history must be recorded and not deleted.