A Nottinghamshire man who amassed a collection of thousands of child sexual abuse images has been jailed.
Ashley Payne, aged 27, was referred to Nottinghamshire Police after concerns were raised about his online activities.
Officers seized several electronic devices from his home and were later able to link them to a high-capacity cloud storage account hosted abroad.
In total they recovered nearly 18,000 images and videos, many of them showing the most serious sexual abuse that can be committed by adults against children.
Specialist officers at the force’s internet child exploitation team were also able to prove that Payne had shared more than 500 of these images with others.
Payne, who claimed he couldn’t remember accessing the images because of a medical condition, pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent photographs of a child, three counts of distributing indecent photographs, one count of possessing an indecent image, and one count of possessing extreme pornography.
Appearing at Nottingham Crown Court on Tuesday, Payne, of Annesley, was jailed for two years and four months.
He was also added to the sex offenders’ register for ten years and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order that will tightly restrict his online activities once he is released.
Under the terms of the order, Payne will have to declare all internet capable devices to Nottinghamshire Police and make them available for inspection at regular intervals.
Detective Constable Thomas Nuttall, of Nottinghamshire Police, said:
“Payne amassed a horrifying collection of child sexual abuse images and later shared this material with others.
“Behind each of these photographs and videos is a real child somewhere in the world suffering the most appalling abuse at the hands of adults.
“Unsurprisingly, these offences take a significant toll on the physical and mental health of victims, which is why we work so closely with partners around the world to try and identify the children involved and get them the help they need.
“Payne is very tech savvy and went to great lengths to hide this material from others. I am pleased that he has now been jailed and hope this sentence serves as a warning to others who are accessing and sharing this type of material.
“We are getting better all the time at finding this material and holding perpetrators to account.”