A serial paedophile was handed one of his own videos, featuring indecent footage of children, back by police after he was released from prison.
Staffordshire Police today apologised and said an investigation would be launched into the blunder.
Ian Owen, aged 53, was sent to jail for six months back in May 2007 after making indecent photos of children.
And upon his release, police inadvertently handed him one of his own videos back, which should have been destroyed at the time, showing children on a beach in Blackpool. Police then found the video at Owen’s home in Smithy Lane, Lichfield, six years later, along with another video and he was arrested.
At Stafford Crown Court, Owen was given a three year community order to undergo a sex offenders’ treatment programme after admitting breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) by making an indecent image of a child and possessing an indecent image of a child.
Mr Paul Spratt, prosecuting, said the police visited Owen’s property on October 6 last year.
Mr Spratt said: “Following his conviction he was released from prison and went to the police to collect various items of property. It’s unfortunate he received back material he should not have done, but he knew he should have given it back to the police.”
When police visited Owen’s home in October they also found a DVD recorder, camcorder and several mobile phones capable of video recording - all equipment he was banned from possessing.
The court heard Owen’s latest offences were his fourth to date after being convicted in 1996, 2003 and 2007.
Staffordshire Police spokeswoman Hazel Dockery said the matter has been referred to Staffordshire Police’s performance assessment unit, and added : “We deeply regret the error which led to the previous evidence being returned to the offender following his conviction some years ago.”