Gary Glitter broke down in tears as he explained to jurors why he had been in possession of child abuse images.
Sobbing uncontrollably, the 70-year-old said he had been in a bad place in his life, and was struggling financially, with alcohol and with drugs.
He issued a tearful apology to his fans saying: “I lost my own dignity, and I am so sorry. I am very sorry.”
Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, denies 10 charges relating to three girls between 1975 and 1980.
In November 1997, when Glitter went to pick up a Toshiba laptop he had handed to a PC World branch in Bristol, he was arrested, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.
The engineer who examined the machine had discovered images on it related to child sexual abuse.
Glitter subsequently admitted responsibility for a “large number” of images – depicting a full range of sexual activity taking place between men and very young children – being on his computer.
He was jailed for four months in 1999 for the collection of 4,000 images.
In cross-examination, prosecutor John Price QC, asked the singer: “Why were you looking at pictures of men having sex with young children?”
Immediately breaking into sobs and reaching for a tissue, Glitter replied: “I was in a very bad place in my life at that time and I had a lot of very serious decisions to make about my future.”
He added that he had invested £200,000 in his own career, and that his record company and fans were demanding a lot from him.
‘I was abused’
Mr Gadd said that at that stage in his life he was not able to empathise with the child victims of the indecent images that were found on his computer, but added that he now recognised the damage caused to the vulnerable youngsters.
He said: “I was abused as a child so maybe I was trying to work my own feelings out.
“Today it would not happen, I have no interest in looking at that awful porn now.
“[I have] absolutely no interest at all, it has destroyed my life, it has destroyed my family’s life and it has most likely destroyed all those poor victims’ lives. I have total empathy for those poor children.”
In this trial, Mr Gadd is accused of attempting to rape and indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 13 in 1975.
Glitter was quizzed about this accusation where it is alleged that the youngster was lying in bed with a friend when he is said to have attacked her.
‘Racked my brains’
But Glitter said he had no recollection of the girl, asserting that he did not try to rape her and that he had no clue why she had made up the allegations.
“I can’t say why anybody would dislike me,” Glitter told jurors. “I did not try to rape her or any other child.”
“I have absolutely racked my brains to wonder why she could say such a terrible thing.”
He is also charged with four counts of indecent assault on a fan in 1977 at hotels in Leicester and Birmingham when she was aged 12 and 13; plying the same girl with alcohol, and having unlawful sexual intercourse with her.
Two further charges allege he indecently assaulted a girl of 13 on a date between October 1979 and December 1980, in his dressing room at a venue in Watford where he was performing.
The trial continues.