A father who had a stash of almost 2,500 indecent images of children has been spared jail.
Andrew Metcalf, 36, collected the pictures between 2010 and 2014, Newcastle Crown Court heard on Friday.
The dad-of-one, from Hauxley Links, Low Hauxley, had 13 of the most serious types of images (category A – penetrative sex), as well as 19 category B pictures (non-penetrative sexual activity). He also had 2,384 category C pictures (images of erotic posing).
Metcalf searched online for indecent images of children and shared pictures to obtain others.
Michael Bunch, prosecuting, said that police seized a laptop and mobile phone from the defendant’s address towards the end of 2015.
At first, Metcalf denied viewing indecent images of children and blamed computer pop-ups, but the grim truth emerged in later interviews.
Mr Bunch said: “Just short of 2,500 images were recovered. The defendant searched for and exchanged images and he had software on his computer which allowed him to share material.
“His interest in such images came about by one item that he came across, and from there, it led on to him viewing other such images. His principal interest was in category C.”
Metcalf pleaded guilty to three counts relating to indecent images of children.
Speaking in his defence, Julie Clemitson told the court that her client had not engaged in such lewd behaviour for a number of years.
She said: “This was an old laptop and the phone was no longer in use. The last search of images was in 2013, over two years before the electronic devices were seized.
“All the images recovered from the laptop were in an area that was no longer accessible to an ordinary user.
“He had put this behind him. He has desisted and not progressed to more extreme images. In my opinion, this is a crucial defence in this case.”
His Honour Judge Edward Bindloss described the case as serious, but accepted that Metcalf had, from 2014, ‘voluntarily desisted and stopped on your own accord’.
He sentenced Metcalf to four months in prison, suspended for two years. He is also subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for an unlimited time period.