A Grassmoor man had so many indecent images of children that police stopped counting when they reached 27,000.
Peter Grass was told by a judge that he had been “keeping a dark secret” for more than ten years by downloading and viewing movies and images of girls and boys as young as ten.
Of the 4,500 images Grass was eventually charged with possessing, more than 400 were of the most serious Category A and showed the victims “in clear distress”, Derby Crown Court heard.
When Grass, 44, of Burns Road, was arrested, he admitted he had an interest in paedophilia.
But Recorder Peter Cooke spared him jail believing that an intensive three-year community order and treatment programme would be more “in the public interest” than sending him to prison.
Recorder Cooke said: “You have been looking at this filth for more than a decade and this is a bad case because it is a large number of category A films and images.
“You were unusually candid saying that you have these paedophillic tendencies and that you were using [the images] them for pornographic stimulation.
“But there is no evidence you distributed any of them or went on to commit any offences involving contact [contacting young children].
“It has been your dark secret for 10 years or more and this community order I am handing you, certain sections of the public will struggle to understand, given what you have done.
“But my greatest responsibility is to ensure that you do not come back before the courts again.”
Abu Joyce, prosecuting, said police issued a warrant on Grass’s address where they seized a number of electronic devices including a data storage unit, a computer and a Samsung mobile phone.
She said they started analysing the computer first and discovered the huge amount of indecent images.
Miss Joyce said: “He has been doing this secretly for a decade.
“On that computer alone there were in excess of 27,000 illegal images which could not be individually categorised because of the sheer volume they found.
“Having found that on just one of the devices the decision was taken not to analyse each and every device.”
In total, Grass was charged with possessing 419 Category A images and films, 799 Category B images and movies and 3,357 of Category C, the least serious.
Grass pleaded guilty to all three charges, which dated from September 5, 2005 to December 16, 2015.
Kelly Shooter, mitigating for Grass, said her client had made “open and candid admissions” both to the police and through his guilty pleas.
She said: “A long community order will allow him to openly get the help that he does want.”
Recorder Cooke handed Grass a three-year community order, ordered him to sign the sex offenders register and handed him a sexual harm prevention order.
After the case, an NSPCC spokesman said: “By downloading these sickening images, Grass has helped to fuel the demand for a disgusting industry which destroys lives.
“Cases like this are becoming more and more common across the country – and the number of indecent image offences reported to Derbyshire police has more than tripled in three years.
“In response, the NSPCC is pushing for technology companies to commit significant expertise and resources to preventing the publication and distribution of this offensive material.
“Social network providers and other technology platforms must realise that they are the key enablers of online child sexual abuse and make a serious commitment to tackling it.”
Anyone with concerns about a child’s welfare should call the NSPCC’s free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 5000.