A PROMISING politics student and amateur rugby star, hauled before the courts for sharing extreme pornographic images with friends, has pleaded with others not to follow in his footsteps.

Ben Pinkney was caught sending “vile” bestiality videos to his former school mates using online messaging service Whatsapp.

He was also sent a pornographic image, said to contain a graphic scene where a person was beheaded.

Last week, the 23-year-old appeared at Southampton Crown Court, where he was sentenced for his actions, described as “utterly foolish” and “inappropriate” by a judge.

Following his court appearance, Pinkney, who is in the final year of a politics degree at the University of Southampton, spoke about his actions, which he described as “stupid”.

Mr Pinkney, who was suspended by the university and now faces the loss of a postgraduate accounting job at a top firm in Reading over his conduct, also warned others to stay away from extreme pornography.

He said: “I accept what I did was wrong.

“I now realise the possible effects on the participants in these clips. For that I am truly sorry.

“I would like to warn other young people of the stupidity of receiving and forwarding images within a Whatsapp group of friends that they may find amusing or shocking as this can result in a criminal record.

“Despite the images being unsolicited it is a crime to not actively delete them as soon as possible and I would urge others to make it clear to their friends that they would not welcome such images and to get rid of any such images if they ever obtain them.”

He added: “I really hope people will learn from my experiences and not the hard way.”

The court was told how the images came to the police’s attention when his phone was seized in relation to an unrelated investigation.

Prosecutor Siobhan Lindsey said Pinkney was part of a Whatsapp group of former school friends, one of whom asked if the group would like to see a “sick” image.

Pinkney and another responded with a “yes”, before the image was sent.

Ms Lindsey said Pinkney also had five extreme pornographic images, said to depict bestiality.

She said no-one else had been charged over the images.

Pinkney later shared another image said to contain genital mutilation with a separate Whatsapp group.

The video was later described as a ritual circumcision.

Mr Missouri, mitigating, said that Pinkney’s family, said to have a high-standing in the community, had been “devastated” by his actions.

He added that the family had been subject to vigilante threats.

Judge Peter Henry sentenced Pinkney, who pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing extreme pornography, to a 12-month community order.

He said: “This was a particularly unpleasant and stupid thing to do and you have learned a lesson from that.”

Pinkney, of Rushington Lane, Totton, was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £350 costs.