During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon, Recorder David Kelly sentenced Michael Oliver to eight months in prison, suspended for 18-months, after the 58-year-old pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the possession of indecent and extreme pornographic images at an earlier hearing.
Prosecuting, Susan Evans, told the court how Oliver's offending first came to light on November 11, 2015 when police paid him a visit after receiving intelligence he had been accessing indecent images online.
Ms Evans said: "The defendant voluntarily provided police with his laptop and his passwords. It was subsequently searched and was found to contain 359 Category A images, 603 Category B images and 1,578 Category C images. There were 37 prohibited images of children and 42 images of extreme pornography."
Photographs in Category A, the most serious of the three categories, are defined as those which show children being raped, and the court was told that at least one of the Category A images found in Oliver's possession involved a child 'as young as five or six-years-old'.
Prohibited images refer to cartoons depicting children abused, while extreme pornography is defined as images or videos which show a human involved in a sex act with an animal.
Oliver had irretrievably deleted the pictures from his computer by the time the forensic team searched it, but officers were able to locate them using specialist software.
Ms Evans told the court that when Oliver was first interviewed by police in May last year, some 18-months after his arrest, he told officers that he had an interest in pornography and when he saw pop-ups for child pornography he found them 'intriguing' but denied having a sexual interest in the images.
During the preparation of his pre-sentence report however, Oliver, of Kings Road, near Doncaster town centre, then admitted to having a sexual interest in the images of children he downloaded, the court was told.
David Webster, defending, said: "The images were viewed over a limited window of time, they were deleted. The area to which he deleted the items could not be retrieved without specialist knowledge or equipment. The defendant does not have the latter, and tells me he does not have the former either."
He added: "Having allegations such as these, even true ones such as they are, hanging over him as a dark cloud for two years is punishment in itself."
Passing sentence, Recorder Kelly told Oliver: "Although the extreme pornographic images involving animals are serious, it's the ones involving children that the court is most concerned with. It is those images that create a market for children to be abused and become victims of sexual abuse."
In addition to his suspended sentence, Recorder Kelly also ordered Oliver to complete a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement order and made him the subject of a five-year sexual harm prevention order.