A music teacher who collected child abuse pictures over a period of 15 years has been spared jail so he can “kick this dreadful habit”.
Walton Cliffe, 69, was arrested after police raided his home and found a stash of more than 1,500 indecent images he had amassed since 2005.
His computer was seized and officers discovered he had 1,502 images of children, both girls and boys, including 83 in the most serious category. He was also found to have been in contact with other paedophiles online, where he had discussed buying naked pictures of a 14-year-old girl he knew.
Cliffe, of Rugby, Warwickshire, admitted distributing indecent images of children, making indecent images of children and possessing the images. He also admitted possessing a prohibited image of a child, two charges of possessing extreme pornography and two of publishing an obscene article.
On Monday he was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years. Recorder John Steel QC said that Cliffe had shown “clear remorse and shame” and had submitted himself to rehabilitation.
Steel told Cliffe: “It is clear you wish to kick this dreadful habit which you have had in the shadows for many years. It is now in the open.
“The probation service recommend that rehabilitation of you is not available if you were to go to prison. “That being the case, it is right that the sentence be suspended.”
Justin Jarmola, defending, said Cliffe was “a man who is essentially of good character, of some age, with a loving and supportive family”. He added: “Mr Cliffe does not present a risk or a danger to the public.”
Cliffe was also given a 7pm-7am curfew for 50 days and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.