A former ward councilor was given a suspended prison sentence after a group of pedophile hunters caught him distributing child abuse footage on an internet chat room.

Stephen Evans became involved in late-night conversations about Kik after becoming depressed and isolated over the loss of his job at Exeter-based Flybe airline.

He was sent images of children aged five to 11 being abused and passed on to other members of the focus group, unaware that he had been infiltrated by pedophile hunters.

They gave his details to the police who raided his old home in South Devon. He had 21 still images on his iPhone, only one of which showed very serious abuse.

Evans, 52, who has now moved to Wales, admitted distributing and uploading indecent footage and was jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years by Judge Cutts at Exeter Crown Court.

He was ordered to attend a sex offender treatment course for 40 days of rehabilitation activities and pay £ 200 in fees.

He was the subject of a 10-year Sexual Injury Prevention Order which allows the police to monitor his online activity and put him on the sex offender registry for 10 years.

Mr Nigel Hall, prosecuting, said police were alerted by a group of pedophile hunters and raided Evans’ home on March 15 last year. They found the footage on his iPhone and he admitted to sharing some with other members of a Kik newsgroup.

Miss Mary McCarthy, defending, said Evans got involved in the business in just two weeks and at a time when he had just lost his job at Flybe and suffered from insomnia.

She said his arrest led to the end of his relationship and the estrangement of his adult children and that he sought help from the Stop it Now website.

He has already done a good job for the community as a parish counselor.

She said: “He seems horrified by the communication he was engaging with and he has as much remorse as possible.”

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