A perverted offshore worker caught with a stash of downloaded indecent images had also taken his own photographs of young boys in public places.
Colin Nicholson first came to the attention of the authorities in 2015 as a consequence of images on his Twitter account.
But it was not until July 2018 that police finally went to his home, where they seized devices capable of accessing the internet.
On eight of them, police found 295 child abuse images the 44-year-old had downloaded online, as well as 200 prohibited cartoon images depicting children.
The indecent images were comprised of a total of 37 of category A, which is the most serious, 45 were category B and 213 were category C and included one video.
Prosecutor Nick Lane told Newcastle Crown Court Nicholson made "candid admissions" during police interview.
Mr Lane said: "He was to tell the police he had a sexual interest in young children for as long as he could remember, though he said, and there is nothing to say this isn't true, that his interest stretched only as far as viewing images of children.
"He had never acted upon that interest."
The court heard as well as the downloaded images, police found pictures Nicholson had taken himself, which were not sexual but featured young boys. He did not face any charges in relation to those.
Mr Lane said: "A number of images had clearly been taken by him, of young boys in public places.
"He accepted he had taken those images and put them aside for his own use later."
Nicholson told police he had been sent illegal images by social media contacts and on Twitter.
Nicholson, of Albert Road, Jarrow, admitted three charges of making indecent images of children and one of possessing prohibited images of children.
Recorder Darren Preston sentenced Nicholson to a community order for two years with programme and rehabilitation requirements.
Nicholson must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for five years.
The judge told him viewing illegal images of illegal child images creates a market for the abuse to continue and creates victims.
He added: "You created victims, children suffer, sometimes for the rest of their lives and never recover from the abuse they suffer."
The court heard Nicholson is "isolated" and a "loner" and has never been in trouble before.
He has sought professional help and treatment and the court heard there is no evidence he has looked at illegal material in the last two-and-a-half years.