AN engineer who downloaded nearly 6,000 indecent images of children claimed that he acted out of curiosity and because he was under stress.

Raymond Rowley, 40, of Joiners Close, Blackpole, Worcester, was arrested after police received information that he had subscribed to a web site which provided the pictures, said Jo Barker, prosecuting at Worcester Crown Court.

After viewing the pictures in court on a laptop computer, Judge Alistair McCreath said that although they were of the lowest level, Rowley plainly had a sexual motivation.

He imposed a three-year community order on Rowley who admitted possession of indecent images, and ordered him to pay £840 costs.

He must also attend a community sex offender group programme and register as a sex offender for five years.

Miss Barker said two computers were seized when police raided Rowley's home on July 11 last year. One which had been used in 2003 had 843 images. The other, which was in current use, had 5,011 images.

Most of the pictures featured children aged between 12 and 14.

The majority were clothed or semi-clothed in sexual poses but there were none depicting sexual activity. Rowley was frank with police and said he had no sexual gratification but that he was merely curious.

Kirsty Real, defending, said the reasons for offending were Rowley's isolation combined with the stress he was put under when he had to decide whether to become a company director or invest in his company. He had since volunteered for counselling in an effort to prevent re-offending.

Judge McCreath said although the images were not the most serious, the pictured children had been sexually abused in a relatively minor way by being forced to pose.

Although there was sexual motivation, there was no suggestion that interest in looking would result in action.