A paedophile pilot has been jailed for 40 months after claiming that the recession drove him to child porn.

Craig Seville, 37, said running his flying school in Blackpool in tough economic conditions caused him to develop a lust for indecent images of children.

His lawyer, Barbara Webster, told Preston Crown Court that the former manager had slipped in to a "fantasy world" to escape from "a very distressing and difficult position."

The owner of Blackpool Flying School downloaded nearly 450 banned images and even used Photshop-style software to create composite child pornography images.

When his computers were seized during a police raid last February, officers found dozens of images including one of an 18-month-old baby.

However, as his business continued to struggle, not even the police raid presented Seville from committing child sex crimes.

He eventually exposed himself via webcam to a police officer, whom claimed she was a 12-year-old girl.

When the undercover officer gave him the false age, Seville replied: "That's so sexy. "Do you want to learn about sexual stuff? Would you be interested in trying and learning things with me?"

Seville then tried to make plans to meet his correspondent, attempting to reassure her by saying he had previously been in a relationship with a 13-year-old.

'You have lost everything'

Seville pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing indecent picures of children, indecent assault and distributing pictures.

Judge Stuart Baker rejected his claim the web was not reality, telling the defendant: "This is not the stuff of fantasy - there's no fantasy world involving the abuse of children.

"The children depicted in the images are children being appallingly abused by adults elsewhere in the world. Watching this material gives oxygen to those who produce it. Those are real children, being badly abused.

"It is truly always a very sad occasion when a court has to impose a sentence on a mature man who has been industrious, who has had a successful career in business and well liked amongst his community, friends and family and well regarded and well respected.

"You have lost your business, your employment and your reputation and, no doubt for many years to come, bear a stigma amongst the community at large for these offences."