A FORMER Scottish Prison Service official is facing up to five years behind bars after he was caught with a huge cache of child abuse images at his Renfrewshire home.

Gordon Pike, who was the organisation's Trade Union Side Secretary and served as a warden at Glasgow's Barlinnie jail, was caught with more than 22,000 images of children being abused.

Officers uncovered the haul at his home in Erskine earlier this year, after he was arrested at the Scottish Prison Service headquarters in Edinburgh.

The 55-year-old pleaded guilty to possessing the sordid stash during an appearance at Paisley Sheriff Court this week.

He admitted he kept the illegal material at his home between 2006 and 2016, in breach of Section 52(A)1 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

Procurator fiscal depute Alan Parfery told the court that, during a search of Pike's home in February this year, computing equipment and discs were recovered.

Searches of his laptop and hard drive showed no evidence he had searched for child abuse images or viewed them on the devices.

But a shoebox was found to contain 37 discs and eight others were found in his home.

His defence advocate said that, although Pike admitted being in possession of the banned images for a decade, they had come into his possession unwittingly.

And he told Sheriff Susan Sinclair that his client was not sexually attracted to children.

Lawyer Gavin Anderson explained: "He was co-chair of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) centre in Glasgow. An unidentified man arrived in August 2006, carrying a holdall, and said it was from a recently-deceased relative. A member of staff took the bag and Mr Pike noted she was extremely agitated.

"On opening the holdall, she discovered it contained a large amount of pornography - both VHS videos and discs."

Mr Anderson said Pike believed the holdall contained mainly adult pornography, took it home and viewed one of the discs on his PC.

But he believed some of the names of the files indicated there was child abuse footage on the discs, so he stashed them away in his loft.

Mr Anderson added that, despite having more than 30 years' experience in the criminal justice system, Pike "wanted to do something about" the offending material but "did not know what to do" and "never got round to it."

Sheriff Sinclair called for Pike to be assessed by social workers and an organisation that deals with sex offenders in Renfrewshire ahead of sentencing and adjourned the case for that to be done.

Pike is set to learn his fate when he returns to the dock in the new year.

A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said they would not comment as Pike is a former employee.