A pervert who view more than 10,000 indecent images, including those of children as young as six, has been sparred jail.

John Scillitoe was handed a nine month jail term, suspended for two years, after admitting three counts of making indecent images of children, one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image and three counts of possessing indecent photographs of children.

The 48-year-old viewed the images over a period of three years - including looking at 3,057 of the most serious category A images.

At Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Patricia Lynch said Scillitoe, of Bijou Close, Tiptree, would benefit from rehabilitation treatment.

Passing sentence, she said: "The public interest is not addressed by sending you to jail.

"The public interest is addressed by you coming face to face with this sort of offending and doing something to make sure it never happens again.

"The difficulty is many people come in front of me, men of impeccable character, who are often outstanding in how they contribute to society and who have reached an age where they should know better.

"But the reason these cases are so serious is because people like yourself, when you download these items from the internet, you seem to forget that the images you are looking at are real children.

"They are real six-year-olds, seven-year-olds and 12-year-olds."

Claire Cooper, prosecuting, said many of the image Scillitoe had viewed showed children who were bound and penetrated.

She added: "The children were in obvious signs of distress.

"He was interviewed on two occasions by the police.

"He answered no comment on the first occasion and after the police conducted their analysis and presented him with the complete picture he once again answered no comment."

Rakesh Sharma, mitigating on Scillitoe's behalf, said his client had come clean with his family after police raided the family home in 2017.

"He is still coming to terms with the reasons why he committed these offences," he said.

"It is suggested this is a man who would benefit from rehabilitation.

"He has a stable home, a stable job which he has managed to keep, credit to his employer."

He added: "He has been a man of previous good character and a positive influence on his family."

Judge Lynch sentenced Scillitoe to nine months in prison for each of the offences involving children and one month for the possession of the extreme pornographic image.

The sentences were suspended for two years and will run concurrently.

He must also complete 40 days of rehabilitation and take part in 31 sessions of the Horizon programme.

A Sexual Harm Prevention order was put in place for five years and Scillitoe will remain on the Sex Offenders register for ten years.