A paedophile who had thousands of images of child sex abuse on his computer has been jailed.
Stephen Byfield, of Haynes Mead, Berkhamsted, was handed a five-and-a-half-year sentence after police found the images.
Jailing the 63-year-old at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Jonathan Carroll said: “Let’s make it absolutely clear, these offences are not victimless.
“These are real children who are bing sexually abused.”
The court was told some of the “repulsive” images were of the very worst kind.
In the main, the material featured children as young as six or seven up to those aged 14 or 15 being abused.
After his arrest police found that Byfield did not just possess the images.
A search of his computer revealed he had been distributing the material by email to other perverts.
The court was told that Byfield had three previous convictions stemming from his interest in downloading child sex abuse images.
As a result he was subject to home visits by the police to check on his computer use.
It was as a result of these visits that officers discovered he had been viewing more of the depraved images and that he had also taken steps to hide his computer’s search history.
Judge Carroll was told that Byfield had deliberately not opened his door to the police when they called, switching his computer off in a hurry in an attempt to hide what he had been doing.
The court heard how early this year when his computer equipment was seized by the police and taken away for a forensic examination, it was discovered he had been using sick search terms to locate the images.
Police discovered he had amassed a staggering collection of depraved images running into tens of thousands.
He had also attempted to cover his tracks by installing special software.
Judge Carroll commented that Byfield had created a “virtual computer” within a computer to hide his activities, using sophisticated software to hide the history of his internet activities.
“You had taken positive steps to minimise the chances of you being caught,” he told Byfield.
Byfield appeared in court to be sentenced for three offences of possessing indecent photographs of children, a charge of possessing a prohibited image, distributing images, and two breaches of the terms of a sexual offences prevention order.
He was also told that all the computer equipment seized by police would be forfeited and destroyed.
Byfield was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.