A MAN found with almost 380,000 indecent images of children on his home computer – who later denied downloading anything illegal – claimed a social worker wouldn’t let him speak in an interview, a court has heard.

Police discovered the massive haul at Andrew Thornton’s then home in Dovehole Avenue.

The 33-year-old pleaded guilty in January to taking, or permitting to be taken or made, indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children between September 2015 and July 2016.

Thornton was due to be sentenced in March, but a decision on how to punish him was deferred so that prosecutors could look into a claim Thornton made to a social worker that he didn’t know what he was downloading was child pornography.

Since then the case has been continued administratively due to the lockdown.

January’s hearing had been told police found around 374,926 indecent still images and 4,442 moving images of children in the raid, which took place on May 24, 2017.

Thornton, currently living at Bulldale Street in Yoker, was back at Dumbarton Sheriff Court last week – but once again the case was continued to a later date after concerns were raised about a supplementary social work report.

Sheriff Maxwell Hendry said he had “huge questions” over whether Thornton’s admission of guilt in January was “anything other than a plea of convenience”.

The sheriff said: “I have a report before me that says Mr Thornton ‘categorically denies seeing a single indecent photograph’. It states that ‘he denies emphatically that any of the recovered images were downloaded and viewed’.

“It says that ‘he at no point took responsibility for this offence, and failed to acknowledge the significance of his conviction’.

“I said before that this case troubled me. I’m not sure that it troubles me any less now than it did when we first had this conversation.”

Scott Adair, defending, said: “He categorically denies saying that to the social worker.

“The latest report was produced following a phone conversation, and he finds it very difficult to explain his position to a social worker over the phone.

“He says he had very little opportunity to discuss things with the social worker.

“His mother and partner were present at his end of that call and they both described it as a one-sided conversation – they couldn’t hear what the social worker was saying, but they both felt he was given very little opportunity to say anything.

“The position he has always expressed to me is that what he thought he was downloading was pictures of adults.”

Mr Adair, who said his client was hoping to move back to the West Dunbartonshire area, suggested one way forward might be to have a new report prepared, by an entirely different social worker – a suggestion that Sheriff Hendry agreed to, “with huge reluctance”.

The sheriff told Thornton: “I know you have no previous convictions and that you have no criminal record; I know your age, and I know your health difficulties.

“It would be highly unusual to send a person in those circumstances to prison – but I want you to understand that I’m not ruling that option out.”

The case was continued until October 27, when the sheriff will also consider an application from the Crown for a sexual offences prevention order.