'Stakeknife', the man widely-named as the British Army's IRA informer, pleads guilty to possessing extreme pornography
A man widely named as the British Army's notorious IRA agent Stakeknife has avoided prison after admitting two counts of possessing extreme pornography.
Freddie Scappaticci, 72, appeared briefly before Westminster magistrates in central London to admit the charges, which related to at least 329 images, including those involving animals.
Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot sentenced Scappaticci to three months in custody, suspended for 12 months.
The magistrate said: "You have not been before the court for 50 years - and that's good character in my book.
"I can see you are not a well man at all - you have very serious health issues - and that you live a lonely life."
Scappaticci has always strongly denied claims that he is Stakeknife, a high-ranking military mole who reputedly led the republican organisation's "nutting squad", an internal security unit which interrogated and murdered suspected spies during the Northern Ireland conflict.
He was arrested by police in January about offences including murder and abduction but was released on bail.
Westminster Magistrates' Court heard Scappaticci told police he was not sexually interested in animals, and preferred women with big breasts.
He told them he was "not doing anyone any real harm" and said he had depression.
The court heard he used his laptop to search for areas of interests, including "cars, the British Army, maps, combat, football, politics", but that he also searched for pornography.
He conducted a number of searches on a total of 13 different days between November 2015 and January 2018.
Scappaticci was ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge and £85 costs.
He was convicted after material was seized as part of Operation Kenova, the wide-ranging investigation which was launched in June 2016 to investigate allegations of serious criminal activity during The Troubles.
Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, who leads the investigation for Operation Kenova, said: "This result is an indication that wherever criminal behaviour is identified during my investigation, evidence will be presented for the purposes of prosecution.
"Operation Kenova continues to recover evidence in relation to our core terms of reference and as and when it is appropriate to speak further, I will do so.
"I would encourage anyone who might be able to assist with this important inquiry to please contact my team via the details on the Kenova website, or by calling Crimestoppers."