A pervert who claimed he downloaded more than 400 indecent images of children accidentally has avoided prison.
Andrew Marchant, 38, of Anson Chase, Shoebury, had pleaded guilty to having 434 images, including 55 in the most serious category A, 75 in category B and 304 in category C.
There were also two cartoons and films, one including bestiality.
Some of the material included both male and female children as young as two, with many others under five years of age.
He appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday where Judge Ian Graham handed him a three-year community order.
He will also be on the sex offenders register, is subject to a sexual harm prevention order, has to compete an internet sex offenders course and take part in 40 hours of unpaid work.
Handing down the sentence, Judge Graham said: “The reason this is taken so seriously is because at some stage, real children are subjected to this abuse.
“These are not fake pictures or just imagination.
“These are real people who are terrible things done to them at a very young age.
“You had 55 category A images, which is not a great amount, sadly, compared to other cases heard in this court.”
Judge Graham added that he took Marchant’s early guilty plea and previous good character into account.
Marchant, who had the images of three devices, said he had accidentally downloaded the images to his computer whilst looking for photos of naked celebrities.