A 53-year-old man downloaded hundreds of pornographic images of children - some of whom were believed to be as young as three.
Paul Aisbitt became addicted to all forms of pornography while leading a solitary life looking after his mother.
Among his collection were still and moving images and pornographic images of animals, Teesside Crown Court heard.
"Police received intelligence that a computer user name of 'Julia' and an internet address was being used to download indecent images," said Emma Atkinson, prosecuting.
"A search warrant was executed at an address in Sheriff Street in Hartlepool.
"The defendant was present, and he told officers images they would find on a computer tower and on other devices including USB sticks were his responsibility."
Ms Atkinson said 88 of the most serious category A child abuse images were found on the devices.
She continued: "There were 124 category B images, 320 category C images, and images of extreme pornography.
"Aggravating features include the fact there were moving images, including a video 46 minutes long.
"Some of the children may have been as young as three, and some were in evident distress. The images were downloaded over a significant period of time."
Aisbitt, of Sheriff Street, Hartlepool, admitted three charges of making indecent images of children, and possession of extreme pornography, all in June last year.
He was of previous good character.
Andrew Teate, defending, said in mitigation: "Mr Aisbitt was unusually frank with the police, and frank with the probation officer who interviewed him.
"Few defendants in his position display such brutal honesty. The search at his house was now two years ago.
"Since that time there has been no further offending, and Mr Aisbitt has sought professional help with his mental health and other difficulties.
"That appears to be working because his risk of re-offending is assessed as very low."
Judge Sean Morris sentenced Aisbitt to a community order of two years.
The judge told him: "You have led a solitary life, caring for your mother until she passed away earlier this year.
"You became addicted to pornography in all its forms. Having been caught, you made serious steps to address your various issues.
"I am satisfied the risk of you offending again is low. Make sure the court doesn't see you again."
Aisbitt was made the subject of an order restricting his internet use for five years.
He must register as a sex offender for five years.
The images and the devices they were stored on were confiscated and will be destroyed.