An aircraft engineer who was found with a stash of indecent images of children was 13 when he started looking at them, a court was told.
Almost 16 years after some of the offences took place, Martyn Butcher, 29, of Abbotsford Road, Marton, appeared before a court admitting making tens of thousands of indecent images and videos of children being abused.
Pornography is one thing – child pornography is quite another – it is illegal and for everyone who watches these images from the comfort of their home, it means somewhere else a child is being abused
More than 300 of them were regarded in law as the most grave category.
Preston Crown Court also heard when his home was raided and his computer seized, police found photographs of children which had been taken by him on the street where he lived, along with images of his friend’s children, which appeared to have been taken without the knowledge of the youngsters involved, although these were not indecent.
The court heard he had pleaded guilty to four counts of making indecent images of children over a period between October 14, 1999 and March 18, 2015, and one of possessing a prohibited image of a child.
Paul Cummings QC, prosecuting, said: “ He was arrested on a warrant as a result of a search at his home on March 17, 2015. Officers seized a number of computer devices and took them away.
“The defendant was interviewed and made no comment but after the images had been analysed he was interviewed again and made full admissions to these offences.
“He accepted he was responsible for downloading the images onto various computer devices, images he accepted were indecent and illegal to possess.
His view was some of those were predominantly of the 11 to 12 age group and most were images of boys.
“He accepted he had been doing it for a number of years.”
His defence lawyer said he “started looking at these images at a very young age” when he was “lonely and isolated and confused in relation to his sexuality”. Butcher has since lost his employment.
Judge Andrew Woolman, sentencing him to a 24-month supervision and a community order to take part in the internet sex offenders programme, said: “This case is unusual in that the making of some of these images goes back to when you yourself were a child in the eyes of the law.
“Pornography is one thing – child pornography is quite another – it is illegal and for everyone who watches these images from the comfort of their home, it means somewhere else a child is being abused.”
He imposed a five-year sexual harm prevention order restricting the way he uses the internet, and ordered him to sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.