An RAF worker was found with almost 100,000 indecent images of children when police carried out a raid on his home.
Edwin Craig, who had worked at RAF Cranwell for 20 years, downloaded the images using computer software which “hoovered up” vast numbers.
He has been sentenced to a community order and rehabilitation activities.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, said that Craig amassed such a large number of images it was not possible for him to have viewed all of them.
He told the court: “These matters came to light in October 2018 when the police executed a search warrant at the defendant’s home address.”
Three electronic devices were seized and subsequent investigations revealed they contained a total of 99,706 indecent images of children.
The vast majority were assessed as being in the least serious category, but 55 were in the highest category.
Mr Howes said: “It is fair to make the observation that that software found on his computer had the effect of being a high-tech hoover.
“It is not a case where he has seen all of these images.”
Craig gave a predominantly “no comment” interview when he was seen by police in October last year.
But in a subsequent interview, he admitted he had an interest in young girls.
Mr Howes told the court: “He talked about his mother passing away and he being in a dark place. He described what he had done as hideous crimes.”
Edwin Craig, 53, of North Road, Cranwell, admitted three charges of making indecent images of children between July 15 2016 and October 14 2018.
He also admitted a further charge of possession of 14 prohibited images of a child.
Terry Boston, in mitigation, said that since he was arrested Craig had recognised he had a problem and completed a number of rehabilitation courses.
Craig, he said, had been left frightened by his experiences in prison where he was held awaiting his sentence.
“He is a destroyed man at the moment. For 20 years he worked at RAF Cranwell but he has now lost that job.
“He is very concerned that he is going to lose his house.
“Whilst he has been in custody he has had a pretty horrific experience. He is totally devastated.”
Mr Boston said that Craig has shown remorse for what he did.
Craig was given a three year community order and ordered to complete a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
In addition, he was placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years and given a five year sexual harm prevention order.
Judge Steven Coupland, passing sentence, told Craig: “You have been in custody now for a month. I can imagine how difficult that has been. Good.
“That is a lesson for people who are tempted to view images like this and it will serve as a reminder to you as to what will happen if you re-offend.
“It seems to me that the best way to protect the public and stop you behaving in this way is a rather more constructive sentence than a short custodial sentence.
“I anticipate I won’t see you again. I hope very much that I don’t because if I do you will go to prison for a long time.”