A man who took zoomed in pictures of a naked toddler playing in a fountain in Warrington told police he was trying to take a selfie.
Onismo Zhakata, 43, took pictures of the three-year-old on Horsemarket Street on 2 June 2021.
A member of the public flagged down police after seeing Zhakata sitting on a bench and taking pictures.
He had zoomed in on the toddler, who was sitting naked in the fountain at the time.
The mother of the child was made aware pictures were being taken and Zhakata initially apologised for his actions.
He was then arrested and his mobile phone was seized.
Police found three Category C images showing the girl but also found one Category A indecent image of a child and six images showing extreme pornography.
At Liverpool Crown Court, Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, said Zhakata initially came up with a sequence of reasons why he had taken the photos, initially telling police he was trying to take a selfie but was struggling to turn his camera to selfie mode and to adjust the lighting settings.
He said this caused him to zoom in on the girl and take a picture of her.
Zhakata, who maintains he has no sexual interest in children, pleaded guilty to taking indecent images; possession of indecent images; and possession of extreme pornographic images at Warrington Magistrates’ Court in April 2022.
The case was sent to Liverpool Crown Court, where Mark Pritchard, mitigating, said Zhakata told him he is in numerous WhatsApp groups with friends in Africa who had sent him the Category A image found on his phone after it went viral on social media.
He said he later got rid of it and Mr Pritchard confirmed it was found in his deleted images folder.
Mr Pritchard appealed to Judge Garrett Byrne to suspend any jail term and order Zhakata to take part in rehabilitation to help him to take responsibility for what he had done and avoid reoffending.
Judge Garrett Byrne said Zhakata needed to address the reasons for his offending and that he was “in denial” about why he had done what he did.
He said: "You surreptitiously took photos of a group of very young children. You zoomed in on a naked three-year-old child.”
Zhakata, of Whitecross Road, Warrington, was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for two years.
He must also take part in 30 rehabilitation days and undertake 80 hours of unpaid work.