A Totnes market trader who was found with child abuse videos on his phone blamed specialist Kashmiri WhatsApp groups for them being there.

Muneer Bhat claimed he had come across the extremely disturbing video clips and images while communicating with friends in the troubled border region during the Covid lockdown.

The material included short films of children as young as two suffering horrific sexual assaults and Bhat also had extremely offensive adult pornography, including one photo involving a corpse.

Police traced him to his home in Totnes through his WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger activity, some of which was undertaken in a false identity which used the name Mark Soper.

Bhat, aged 41, of Hope Walk, Totnes, admitted possession of indecent images of children and of extreme pornography and was jailed for ten months, suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and 30 days of rehabilitation activities and to pay £400 costs by Recorder Mr James Bromige at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: “You sought to attribute your actions to ignorance of the law and to new forms of technology.

“That is nonsensical, given that you continued to access these WhatsApp groups until shortly before your arrest.

“You repeatedly returned to these groups and did not delete the images or remove yourself from the groups. I am not willing to accept these were accidental or technical offences.”

Mr Greg Richardson, prosecuting, said police were alerted to illegal items sent by Facebook Messenger which were ultimately traced to Bhat’s account and police found other images on devices which they seized in a raid in January 2022.

There were a total of 317 images or movies including 163 accessible items which fell into the most serious category and showed penetrative assaults on children.

There were also 55 examples of extreme adult pornography.

The children in the images and clips were aged two to 13. One showed a girl aged about two being raped and another showed an eight-year-old girl suffering humiliating abuse.

You can report information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.