A PENSIONER who denies have a sexual interest in young children admitted possessing more than 20,000 child abuse images.

Robert Carter, who was described in court as successful, had amassed the vile collection over at least a 12 year period.

The 67-year-old told officers that his interest was sparked by looking at images of nudist beaches but his explanation was dismissed by the court.

Annelise Haugstad, prosecuting, said police recovered several Apple products from the pensioner's Yarm home, which he shared with his wife, and found 312 images and 62 videos under category A – the most serious offence.

There were also 679 images and 98 videos classified as category B and 20,415 images and 133 videos under category C.

A total of 21,699 images and videos were recovered and a number of child abuse search terms were identified.

In police interview, Carter said he collected images but 'had no sexual interest in children'.

Carter, of Nursery Gardens, Yarm, pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing indecent images of children.

Alex Menary, in mitigation, said his client had an 'immaculate good character' and had been 'successful' before his arrest but accepted that was tempered by the length of time the offending took place.

He said: "Mr Carter's insight is perhaps still developing and the court will find it hard to accept that there was no sexual interest in children – plainly there was here. Plainly, Mr Carter was hoarding these images."

Judge Deborah Sherwin sentenced Carter to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.

She said: "For each of those images or videos it reflects a child being abused in some way. In some cases the abuse maybe more minor but in some cases, and I have seen descriptions of the material the officer, had to look at, it's quite clear that very serious abuse took place."

He must also complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and pay the prosecution's costs.

Carter will also be on the sex offenders' register for ten years.