Roger Borton, 56, was said to be more obsessed with collecting the images than viewing them, although he admitted to police he had looked at some for sexual gratification, Leeds Crown Court heard.
Richard Wright representing Borton said the vast majority, 957,500, were at level one, the lowest category, which he suggested could exceptionally sway sentence in his case towards treatment and rehabilitation not available in prison.
He told the court Borton was first arrested for the offences in 2008 and it was through no fault of his he had faced such a long delay until sentence, which was due to the sheer volume of images.
Judge Colin Burn commented that he would not have thought it “humanly possible” to view so many images “even in a lifetime.”
Borton, of Park Road, Guiseley, Leeds admitted 21 charges of making indecent images and was given 12 months in prison suspended for two years, with supervision and up to 60 days intensive activity requirement covering the sex offender treatment programme.
He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years and under a Sexual Offences Prevention Order was told he must make any devices capable of storing digital images be made available for inspection.
The judge said the offences were serious particularly where level four and five images were involved depicting the worse abuse.
“Your private world, as it was at your home address sitting in front of your PC either looking at or collecting these images, that private world is only made possible by appalling life changing abuse, both of a psychological and physical nature which these children suffer in order effectively for others to sell these images for people like you to have sexual gratification.”
The judge said having read of Borton’s own abuse in childhood it was of concern that seeing others abused had not stopped him collecting the images, but he had concluded intensive and constructive intervention now would reduce future risk.
Paul Nicholson prosecuting told the court in November 2008, as part of Operation Nettlebed, police officers went to Borton’s home and seized computer equipment. He was bailed when the number of images was discovered and eventually his bail was cancelled and he was told he would be contacted again when suitable while the investigation continued.
In July 2010 officers returned to his address and seized a further computer with more images on it.
When interviewed about them all he denied he was sexually attracted to children and said he liked girls up to the age of 18. He said he had started downloading adult pornography and progressed to younger girls and said it became “like an addiction.”
Mr Nicholson said some of the images depicted children younger than the age of 10 which Borton suggested was his limit.
Mr Wright told the court Borton had since sought help with his obsession and been open with his wife and family who were standing by him.
He had clearly suffered a lifetime of depression through his own experience as a child which included sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend.