THE family of a paedophile former bus driver broke down in tears at a Worcester court when he was spared jail.

Disgraced bus driver Steven Knight had hundreds of thousands of indecent images of children, including babies as young as one-years old being sexually abused.

Knight, who found the images 'erotic', downloaded a picture of a child and their mum from Facebook and doctored it so his naked body appeared next to them.

The sex offender also took photos of children in their underwear while he was working as a bus driver on the school run.

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The 48-year-old was spared jail at Worcester Crown Court on Thursday, causing anger and disappointment among the family members who have disowned him, some breaking down in tears.

Judge Martin Jackson argued rehabilitation could not take place in prison when inmates were locked in their cells for up to 23 hours a day because of the pandemic.

One relative of the defendant could be seen sobbing outside court because Knight had not been sent to jail and was comforted by family.

A close male relative of the defendant, who did not wish to be named, told the Worcester News: "The sentence is a joke. I'm not happy about it. He should have gone down.

"You can't rehabilitate these people."

His siblings have disowned him but learned new, shocking details of the offences when the case was opened by Siobhan Collins, prosecuting.

One said: "I was in tears. You can see the smirk on his face. Too much came out in court this morning. When is Covid going to stop being an excuse for not sending people to jail?"

Jailed in August

Knight admitted he had made the images (downloaded them) between July 29, 2015 and October 20 last year at categories A, B and C.

In total he had 85 moving images and 267 still images at category A, discovered on various devices.

However, 60,000 images on one device went uncategorised because of restrictions on the Crown and another contained 481,000 uncategorised indecent images.

Over the same dates he also admitted making indecent indecent images at category B (194 stills) and category C (289 stills).

He further admitted possession of extreme pornography and a further offence of making indecent images of children, committed to the crown court by magistrates last month.

We had reported Knight's earlier appearance before magistrates where he admitted possessing six images, involving a 'live unknown animal' between December 29, 2018 and October 17 last year.

He also admitted making an indecent 'pseudo-photograph of a child' between July 29, 2015 and October 20, 2020. However, he denied that any of the images had been distributed to others.

Officers found photographs and images of children in public, including of their underwear, taken while he was on the school run as a bus driver and without the knowledge and consent of his victims.

He had doctored a Facebook photo of one woman and her child 'he used to know' to show himself naked next to them with a caption described as 'obscene' by the judge.

"He explained he collected the said material because he found it erotic. This began when his computer was hacked and he was exposed to such content.

"He said he had this material for his own pleasure and agreed he could properly be described as a paedophile," said Miss Collins.

Judge Martin Jackson said: "I have to sentence you for a series of offences many people - indeed I think any decent right-thinking person - would consider to be disgusting and abhorrent."

He said some of the category A images showed babies in extreme discomfort. However, he gave Knight a discount to reflect his early guilty pleas and admissions to police who executed a warrant at his home on October 9 last year.

"Immediate custody at the moment is something that would achieve punishment but is unlikely to achieve rehabilitation" said the judge.

He argued that 'no meaningful rehabilitation is being done with them (prisoners) if it can be done at all' when inmates were spending 23 hours a day in their cells due to Covid-19.

The judge sentenced him to two years in prison suspended for two years, placed him under probation service supervision and ordered him to complete 45 rehabilitation activity requirement day and 180 hours of unpaid work.

Notification requirements will apply for 10 years. A sexual harm prevention order will further restrict his use of the internet and his contact with children.

This order will be in place for the next 10 years. Knight of Queensmead, Bredon, was ordered to pay a £300 contribution towards the £535 requested by the Crown.

Judge Jackson further ordered the forfeiture and destruction of any devices upon which any indecent material was found.