A former council officer who worked at Watford Town Hall downloaded thousands of indecent images and movies of children onto his home computers.

Ian Mather, of Stanmore Road, Watford, downloaded thousands of perverted material onto his home computers.

The 54-year-old ex-council officer had also been looking at images of extreme pornography involving bestiality, St Albans crown court heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Colin Banham said that officers with a search warrant went to his home at 8.30am on April 16 last year. He was not in, so they went to the town hall, where they asked for him at reception.

He identified himself and went out to the police car, where he was cautioned. Computers were seized from his home and from his parents' home in Ruislip.

When they were examined, the police found 2,171 indecent images - 206 in Category A, the most serious category, 172 at Category B, and 1,794 at Category C, the least serious. There were 197 movies - 72 at Category A, 45 at Category B and 80 at Category C and 134 images of extreme pornography.

Mather had used search terms such as: "Lolita," "Pedo", and "Preteen", said Mr Banham.

When questioned he said he had been searching for adult pornography

Mather pleaded guilty to seven charges of making [downloading] indecent images, two of possessing indecent images and one of possessing extreme pornography. He was a man of previous good character.

Defence Andrew Campbell said Mather had voluntarily attended the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a charity that aim to help people to stop viewing indecent images.

"He has co-operated with the police from the outset. He was arrested at work. That was the first humiliation. He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He was working in a government-type position and was offered redundancy in December last year. He took it," said Mr Campbell.

At the time of his arrest he said he was trying to sort out the estate of his late mother at the Ruislip address. His father, he said, suffers from Alzheimer's and is in a home.

Judge Marie Catterson passed a two year Community Order with 18 months' supervision.

The judge banned him from accessing any pornography for the length of the order, saying: "It will do you no harm at all." He must have a device on his computer that records and retains his browsing history.

In addition he must register as a Sex Offender for five years and pay £340 costs.