A SEXUAL interest in naturist websites led to one man downloading child abuse images and extreme pornography.

Ian Whiting was caught with thousands of indecent images when the internet provider address he was ‘piggy-backing’ on was used to access illegal content.

Teesside Crown Court was told that the 33-year-old was using the internet service paid for by his partner’s parents to download extreme pornography and amass his personal collection of child abuse images.

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said the police raided Whiting's home and found the indecent images after they were alerted to a number of searches he had carried out which 'would suggest an interest in young children'.

She said: "Some of these were as young as seven, there was so many images. This is serious due to the period of time the images were collected and there was a number of victims."

Whiting, now of Bedlington but formerly of Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent images with 14 of the most serious category A images, 36 category B and 7,405 images in category C. He also pleaded guilty a charge of possessing 16 extreme pornography images.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said: "He started with the naturist images and then moved on to teenage girls which then progressed to young girls, some as young as seven,"

In mitigation, Martin Towers, said his client had taken upon himself to sign up for private treatment to manage his risk of reoffending.

"He has shown genuine remorse," he said. "He has paid for the treatment to make sure that he doesn't do this again and expose his, still supportive family, to this again."

Mr Towers told the judge that the defendant's former employer had told him they would happily re-employ him and said a number of courses were available to Whiting to address his risk of reoffending if he was not jailed.

He added: "He is the sort of man that these courses are tailored for, there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in this case."

Judge Ashurst sentenced Whiting to eight months in custody for the most serious of offence – making the Category A images – but suspended it for two years.

The judge also passed three, four month concurrent sentences for the other offences.

"They were accessed by you looking at naturist websites, firstly family groups and then focussing on young naturists, teenage children and them as young as seven," he said.

The judge acknowledged the defendant had taken steps to address his problems. "You recognised you had a problem, it was a serious one and it needed to be addressed before it became too extensive or even led to future contact with children."

Whiting was served with a ten-year notification order as well as a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the same period of time.