An Abbots Langley man who was caught with almost 3,000 images of child sex abuse and extreme pornography was given a Community Order on Friday after a judge was told he had sought help.
Police seized two Acer laptops belonging to Stephen Starkey, 53, of Jacketts Field, when they raided his home on June 4 last year, St Albans Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Neil King said the newer computer had just six images of child pornography - one at Level 2, four at Level 3 and one at Level 4 - the second most serious level.
But on the older machine there were many more. Investigators found 26 films and 2,663 images at Level 1 - the least serious level. 21 movies and 29 images were at Level 2, 12 movies and 16 images were at Level 3, 105 movies and 34 images were at Level 4 and seven movies were at Level 5, the most serious level.
In total, Mr King said there were 171 movies and 2,748 images. In addition the police found 123 images of extreme pornography that involved sexual activity with animals. There were also 48 prohibited images of children, showing the lower halves of their bodies.
Starkey pleaded guilty to 12 counts of making indecent images - that refers to downloading - one of possessing extreme pornography and one of possessing prohibited images of children. He had no previous convictions.
He told the police he had been acting out of curiosity. Upon his arrest he sought help from the Lucy Faithful Foundation, a charity that helps offenders stay away from child sex abuse images.
Andrew Campbell, defending, said: "He recognised the full horror of the images when confronted about them. He has been open about it and has got help at his own expense."
Judge John Plumstead praised the police policy of giving the details of a "Stop it now" scheme to offenders found with abuse images.
He told Starkey: "You are rightly ashamed of yourself, but you have taken steps to have help. In many cases the images you have viewed have involved serious sexual offending taking place. If people like you weren't there to view them they would not be abused."
He placed him under supervision by probation officers for two years and ordered him to attend a Sexual Offender Treatment Programme. He must also register as a Sex Offender for five years and have risk management software installed on his computers so the police can monitor his behaviour.
Starkey was also ordered to pay £250 prosecution costs. As he left, Judge Plumstead warned him: "This court does not expect to see you again."