A GULF war veteran set up a camera to covertly film a child and kept a sickening stash of more than 20,000 indecent images of children.

Clive Mars, 67, had hoped to persuade a judge to spare him an immediate term behind bars as he is the sole carer for his disabled wife.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard the twisted pensioner used a hidden camera to capture images of a child.

Stuart Dingle, prosecuting, said: “He can be seen in the footage to alter the camera to confirm what angle is being shot and he has then stored those images.”

When police raided his home, they seized a number of storage devices including 24 USB drives and a 125gb hard drive.

Officers found more than 20,000 indecent images of children, including more than 16,000 at Category C, 3,000 at Category B and 2,200 at the most serious Category A.

More than 2,000 movies at Category A were also uncovered.

Mr Dingle said: “They cover almost the full range of abusive sexual behaviour involving children.”

Mars, of Waterside Marina, Brightlingsea, admitted three counts of possessing indecent images of children, one count of taking an indecent image of a child, five counts of voyeurism, one count of possessing a prohibited image of a child and one count of possessing extreme pornographic images.

READ MORE: Paedophile had 20k indecent images and set up camera to film child

Matthew McNiff, mitigating, said a report had found Mars was at a low risk of re-offending and could be properly rehabilitated.

He said Mars, who served in the armed forces from the age of 23, had an “exemplary record”.

“It’s right to say, perhaps unsurprisingly for those that serve Queen and country, he suffers from symptoms akin to PTSD as a result of tours both in the first Gulf War and Bosnia,” he said.

“He currently suffers from depression. He has a number of other health issues.”

Mr McNiff said Mars now cares for his disabled wife of 46 years, who is resistant to entering a care home.

He added: “Since he became her full time carer consequent upon her fourth stroke in 2009, they have simply not spent a single day apart.

“That, I suspect as a simple fact, gives this court an important insight as to why it is so much distress was caused by the suggestion from a third party that she simply be moved into a home.”

Mr McNiff said Mars had cooperated fully with the police throughout the investigation, adding: “He has lost his good name, the love and respect of his family.

“He has been ostracised by many of his peers and friends. He doesn’t advance that through me to seek sympathy, but as a fact the court may want to take into account.”

Judge Christopher Morgan said he was not persuaded to suspend an immediate prison sentence, but granted, “as an act of mercy”, a 14-day reprieve to allow Mars to seek alternative care for his wife.

Mars was released on unconditional bail until a further hearing on Tuesday, February 8.

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