A PAEDOPHILE has avoided an immediate prison sentence after he was caught with 1,213 images and seven videos of child sex abuse.

Married man Simon Thomas “made a number of comments about images” when police officers raided his home at King Harold’s View, Caldicot, last November.

They seized his mobile phone and found the films and pictures, some of which showed the abuse of children as young as six months old and others “visibly upset”.

Officers arrested and interviewed Thomas, 42, who told police he viewed adult pornography and “on occasion” had viewed illegal images of children but “didn’t request” them, Kathryn Lane, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday.

Thomas also told officers he would “hit the report button” when he did encounter such illegal content, she added.

The court heard the defendant’s phone contained 437 pictures and six videos of the most serious category of abuse, mostly involving girls and mostly aged between six and eight.

There were 458 images and one film that fell into Category B offences. These showed girls and boys aged between three and 10 years old.

And Thomas also had 318 still images of Category C, showing the abuse of children aged from six months to 12 years old.

Ms Lane told the court the images on the phone were “not readily accessible to the user”. There was no evidence Thomas had shared the images with other people.

At a later police interview, Thomas told officers he had an “addiction to pornography but wasn’t sexually interested in children”, Ms Lane said, adding that Thomas said the illegal images had “played a part in his pursuit of more extreme pornography”.

James Evans, defending, said Thomas – who has no previous convictions – had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and showed “genuine” remorse for his actions. The defendant had also voluntarily sought help from a “very well respected” specialist organisation.

The court heard Thomas, whose address was also given as Glynsyfi, Elliot's Town, had admitted his offending to his wife and family, and had taken a new job because he “correlates” work-related stress with the viewing of pornography.

The judge, Timothy Petts, told Thomas “you and others like you… play a part in a cycle of abuse that leads others to generate and create these images” of children being sexually abused.

Noting the defendant’s guilty pleas and the steps taken to “address [his] behaviour”, the judge gave Thomas a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for 21 months.

Thomas was also placed on the sex offenders’ register and handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for 10 years. He must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work and complete 30 days of rehabilitation activities.