A 60-year-old man who downloaded more than 1,000 indecent images from a paedophile website denied having any sexual interest in children.
Peter Blenkinsop used a Russian site over a 15-year period to amass his collection, Teesside Crown Court heard.
“He was arrested after Cleveland Police received intelligence from the National Crime Agency,” said Rachel Masters, prosecuting.
“Officers raided his home and seized two usb sticks, two computer towers, a hard drive, and two mobile phones.
“Indecent images were found on each of the devices.
“There were 24 at the most serious category A, 26 at category B, and 1,062 at category C.
“When interviewed by police, Blenkinsop eventually accepted he had downloaded the images, but denied he had any sexual interest in children.”
Blenkinsop, of York Road, Hartlepool, admitted three offences of possessing indecent images on July 31, last year.
Laurie Scott, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Blenkinsop is before a court for the first time in his life at the age of 60.
“He made full and frank admissions when questioned, albeit after some prevarication.
“He does struggle with victim empathy and that he has some sexual attraction to children, which needs to be addressed.
“Mr Blenkinsop enjoys the support of his family and his employers, who have told him he can keep his job if he is not sent to prison.”
The Recorder, Mr Nick Lumley QC, sentenced Blenkinsop to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and a supervision order of 12 months, including a sex offender treatment programme.
Blenkinsop was made the subject of an indefinite order banning him from any unsupervised contact with female children, and restricting his internet use.
The recorder told Blenkinsop: “Since 2000 you deliberately gathered indecent images of children.
“At the time of your arrest you had more than 1,000, but no doubt many more passed through your hands.
“The most serious images, to be blunt, showed children being raped by adult males.
“You have no insight into the impact of your offending on the children.
“I find you do have a sexual interest in children, and that interest is ingrained.
“You could not complain if it was immediate custody, and I’m sure many right-thinking members of the public would think it should be.
“I am just persuaded to suspend the sentence, but if you do so much as look at another photograph of a child for sexual gratification, you will go to prison.”
Blenkinsop must register as a sex offender for 10 years.