Plymouth Royal Navy diver had so many child abuse images cops gave up counting
A ROYAL Navy diver with so many indecent images of children on his computers that police gave up counting has avoided prison.
James Mitchelmore, aged 32, admitted having 4,440 pornographic pictures – but officers believe there could have been more than 100,000.
The Devon and Cornwall force has a policy not to count and classify images after 2,000 to 3,000, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
Judge Graham Cottle said: "People like you looking at images late at night in drink and on cocaine encourages others to abuse these children. That is why it is so serious."
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He added that some of the images were in the most severe category and some involved children aged anywhere between one and five. One is the lowest category and five is the most serious.
But the judge said if Mitchelmore served a relatively short jail sentence he would come out of prison untreated for his sexual interest in children.
He added: "I think the interests of the public will be best served if you attend the Internet Sex Offender Treatment Programme and the Thinking Skills Programme.
"That has a better chance of success than sending you to prison."
Judge Cottle also handed him a 52-week prison sentence, suspended for two years. he must pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs.
Mitchelmore, of Porteous Close, Devonport, had earlier admitted 15 charges of making or downloading indecent images of children and one charge of possessing an extreme pornographic image.
Sarah Vince, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said police searched Mitchelmore's previous address in St Judes on August 2, 2010.
She said they found "100,000 unique images in relation to this case" on two computers and a USB case.
Miss Vince the police stopped counting the images when they had classified 4,404.
She added the pictures had been downloaded over four years and Internet search terms recovered from the machines showed a sexual interest in children.
Deni Matthews, for Mitchelmore, said he had been a Navy diver for 12 years but had left once he was charged.
He added Mitchelmore had not immediately confessed his crimes because of "fear and embarrassment".
Mr Matthews said: "These offences came to light in 2010, and it is two years since he accessed this sort of material."
He added that he had looked at the images upon returning from the pub, sometimes with friends.
Mr Matthews said that although some of the images were in password-protected files, the password was written on a sticker on the computer and known to several people.
But he added: "He accepts he was the substantial operator and he has frankly said now that there was some gratification."
Judge Cottle said: "There was such an enormous amount of material that the police stopped counting.
"Who knows how many level four and level five images there were?"
Mitchelmore must also sign the Sex Offender Register for five years.
He was also handed a Sex Offences Prevention Order to bar him having contact with children.