Matthew Sammon
Matthew Sammon was arrested in Spain hours after appearing on a 'most wanted' list Met Police

A British paedophile who spent more than two years on the run in Spain has been jailed after admitting possessing more than 34,000 indecent images of children.

Matthew Sammon, 46, from Mitcham, south London, was arrested following an international manhunt as a part of Operation Captura, a scheme by the National Crime Agency (NCS) to capture British fugitives believed to be on the run in Spain.

Sammon was arrested by the Spanish National Police at a fairground site in the coastal town of Fuengirola in October 2016 a matter of hours after his image was released by the NCA as part of the top 10 Most Wanted appeal to help find him.

He was charged and extradited back to the UK within days. In December 2016, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of downloading and possessing 34,5000 indecent images of children - with more than 500 of which were classified under the most serious category -as well as 874 films, at Westminster Magistrates court in December.

Appearing at Southwark Crown Court, Sammon has now been sentenced to 30 months in jail.

Detective Inspector Simon Ellershaw, of the Sexual Offences Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said: "I am pleased with the sentence that has been handed down today. Sammon possessed images of the most serious nature and it is only right that he serves a considerable time behind bars.

"Sammon only pleaded guilty to possessing the images after fleeing to Spain in order to evade justice. Those who possess such images, by creating a market for them, cause the horrific sexual abuse of children; and while there are people like him this abuse will continue.

"The Metropolitan Police Service will do everything we can to identify and bring to justice those involved in this type of crime. I thank The National Crime Agency for their assistance and those in the media, particularly Sky News, who published Sammon's photograph which led to his whereabouts being identified."

Following his arrest, Steve Reynolds, Head of International Operations for the NCA, said: "We asked the public to help us find our most wanted fugitives and this early result the same day we launched our campaign shows the system works.

"The Spanish National Police were able to respond quickly to a tip off about Matthew Sammon's location and he was arrested in Fuengirola. As we have always said, Spain is not a safe haven."

An NSPCC spokesperson said: "From the severity of the images found in his possession it's clear that Sammon's depravity knows no bounds.

"By running from his crimes he hoped to evade justice but this case shows there is no place to hide and he's now rightly behind bars.

"Every indecent image is a visual record of a serious sexual assault and the children in those images are re-victimised with every click. Victims of this horrendous abuse will need support to rebuild their lives."

A total of 78 out of the 96 British fugitives suspected to be hiding in Spain have been arrested over the past 10 years as part of Operation Captura.