Joseph Robinson, 19, had 2,598 indecent images of children, some depicting rape, Teesside Crown Court heard
A student found with more than 2,500 sickening images of children on his computer has been spared jail.
A court heard Joseph Robinson, 19, collected the pictures of child abuse from the dark web.
Some of the “grotesque” images depicted youngsters being raped.
The teenager owned up when police seized a computer tower and memory stick in October last year, Gazette Live reports.
Officers discovered 2,598 indecent images of children, including more than three hours of video at the most serious level, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Harry Hadfield said officers also discovered 214 “prohibited images” of children who were not real.
Some of those pictures were described in court on Thursday as “particularly grotesque”
Robinson downloaded the images since he was 16 between January 2016 and October 2018.
“There must have been searching for such images,” added Mr Hadfield.
Robinson, of Vicarage Avenue, Stockton, admitted three charges of making indecent photos of children and one of possessing prohibited images of children – his first conviction.
John Turner, defending, said: “This young man accepts that he has a deep-seated problem.
“He has an unhealthy and unlawful interest that needs to be curbed.
He comes from a normal healthy background where this sort of offending is deeply shaming.”
Mr Turner said Robinson felt remorse for his offending and the “devastation” and shock it caused his respectable family.
He told how the hard-working student was likely to achieve a first class degree, hoped to move straight into a high-earning job in 2020 and had references and a small but close circle of friends.
Mr Turner said: “An immediate custodial sentence would interrupt those studies and would have unknown consequences for his future career.
“He needs help and will embrace it. He is of an age where his behaviour can be modified.:
Judge Howard Crowson told Robinson: “Many people serve immediate prison sentences for these offences.
“Unfortunately we deal with many of these types of cases.
“You have an unhealthy interest in indecent images of young children.
“These are young people who have been abused. Every time someone looks at their images, they violate them again.”
Referring to the prohibited images, he said: “To any right-thinking person they are appalling.
“The people who bring references would be horrified if they knew the detail. They are grotesque.”
He said Robinson’s cooperation with the prosecution encouraged him that the teenager would work with the Probation Service to help prevent reoffending and avert future risk.
Robinson was given a one-year sentence in a young offenders’ institution suspended for two years with a internet sex offender treatment programme and 30 days’ rehabilitation activity.
He was given a sexual harm prevention order governing his internet and computer use and will be on the sex offenders’ register, both for 10 years.