A MAN who became obsessed with indecent photographs of girls as young as three has avoided prison.
Andrew Hall collected sexual images of children on his computer when he lived with his parents in Seaham, and when he moved to his own place in Taunton Square, Thorney Close, Sunderland.
Police found 1,987 illegal photographs on Hall’s laptop, Durham Crown Court heard.
“Fifteen of these were at the most serious level five category,” said prosecutor Chris Williamson.
“Another 159 were at the next most serious level four category, including 34 moving images.
“The pictures featured children whose ages were estimated to be between three and 10 years.
“When interviewed, the defendant told police he was disgusted by what he had done,
“But said he couldn’t help turning into a different person when he logged on to the internet.”
The court heard Hall had sexual conversations online with older men, in which he pretended to be a young girl, and he frequented chatrooms in which sexual activity with children was discussed.
The 24-year-old of Haverley Drive, Seaham, admitted 16 charges of making an indecent photograph of a child, and one charge of possessing indecent images of children.
He was of previous good character.
Mitigating, Peter Schofield, said: “He has not approached any child, these offences were in a fantasy land.
“After a casual encounter on the internet he allowed himself to be drawn into retaining this material, not even looking at much of it.
“Mr Hall is an intelligent man with a job, and is now back at home where he has the support of his family.”
Recorder Graham Hyland sentenced Hall to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and a two-year supervision order.
“Sending you straight to prison would serve no useful purpose,” he said. “You allowed this obsession with pre-pubescent girls to take hold of you.
“You need assistance and help to deal with that, and it is help you must take under the terms of your sentence.”