A PAEDOPHILE was caught with 70,000 indecent images of children stored on a hard drive in his Kilmacolm home just months after being released from prison for an identical crime.

Sex offender Craig Johnstone, who was jailed for a year and a half in February 2021 after being found with a similarly sick haul of photos and videos, was re-arrested in October 2023 following a police raid of his property.

Officers executing a search warrant recovered a hard drive from a chest of drawers in the bedroom of his home in the village and 40-year-old Johnstone "immediately took ownership of it", Greenock Sheriff Court heard.

The man pleaded guilty to two indictment offences at a hearing and will be sentenced later this year.

A procurator fiscal depute told the court that the electronic device was analysed and found to contain 70,000 indecent images of children, of which 155 were in the most extreme category A, 363 were classed as category B, and the remaining were category C.


Each of the photos had creation dates attached to them, the court heard, pinpointing when Johnstone downloaded them, however, the prosecutor said there "is no suggestion" that he produced the images first-hand.

Calling for a criminal justice social work report "to give more insight" into Johnstone's background, Sheriff James Varney said the "alarming" case "can only be dealt with by the imposition of custody".

The sheriff added that an extended sentence - including a period of monitoring in the community upon his release from prison - will be considered.

Defence solicitor Paul Cook said he would reserve his plea in mitigation until the next calling of the case.

The Greenock Telegraph previously reported that Johnstone was found with more than 46,000 depraved images on a laptop computer and two mobile phone SIM cards in his former one-bedroom flat on Greenock's Dempster Street, having amassed the material over eight months between July 2019 and March 2020.

He told officers at the time: "I've messed my life up."

He was handed an 18-month prison term and added to the sex offenders registers for 10 years - and committed the latest offences over the period from August 2022 to October last year.

Johnstone, who is currently remanded in custody, will return to court for sentencing on May 3.