THE boss of a New Milton entertainment equipment hire business who was caught with hundreds of child sex abuse images has been spared jail.
Police raided the Pennington home of Joe Hale in February 2017, Southampton Crown Court heard.
They seized his phone and laptops and found more than 400 indecent images of children – including 31 at the worst level, category-A.
Hale appeared at court having pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent images and one of making pseudo-images of children.
Judge Gary Burrell imposed a 15-month prison term but agreed to suspend it for two years because an immediate custodial term would affect the company he runs, SFX Events Ltd, and its contractors.
He also ordered Hale (32) to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and made him the subject of a five-year sexual harm prevention order.
Hale founded SFX Events after leaving school. The company, based at Williams Industrial Park in Gore Road, leases out entertainment equipment, such as lighting.
On its website, the firm claimed to have worked for Southampton Football Club and BBC motoring show Top Gear, although this information has since been removed.
The firm’s Facebook and Twitter pages have also been taken down, but Hale’s profile on its website, which can still be found, states he enjoys climbing, powerboating, sailing and cycling in his spare time.
Written in Hale’s own words, it adds: “As the founder of SFX Production Services I have a passion for making every event a great one. I am lucky to have such a great team to work closely alongside me.
“My enthusiasm for lighting and effect production is well received by clients who are looking to get the best out of their event.”