A paedophile was rumbled when he took an Amazon Kindle containing sick pictures to Cash Converters.

Jeffrey Wade had been "downloading and stockpiling" more than 4,000 child sex abuse photos and videos since 2016.

His collection included images of babies and toddlers being molested and children as young as five or six being raped.

But he walked free and celebrated with a suspicious looking cigarette after a judge heard he was "motivated to put this behaviour behind him".

Liverpool Crown Court heard the 35-year-old, from Dovecot, went to the pawnbrokers, on Dovecot Parade, on March 26 last year.

He received £15 for the Kindle, under the store's 'Buy Back Scheme', and provided the password for the e-reader, "NYNY".

However, when a 28-day cooling-off period expired and staff came to wipe the device to resell it, they discovered disturbing photos.

Cash Converters immediately contacted the police, who found 11 Category B indecent images - the second most serious category depicting sexual activity - 143 Category C files and 25 prohibited computer generated images.

Officers raided Wade's home in East Prescot Road and seized more electronic equipment including a laptop, Raspberry Pi computer, mobile phones, USB sticks, SD card and an external hard drive.

In total on these devices and the Kindle there were 145 Category A, 392 Category B and 3,719 Category C files, adding up to 4,258 indecent images, plus 1,916 prohibited images.

The Category A files including images of children as young as five or six being raped, while the Category B images included newborn babies and toddlers.

Jeffrey Wade walked free from court

Jamie Baxter, prosecuting, said evidence showed Wade had been "downloading and stockpiling indecent images of children", searching for "three to five years old nude" and using techniques "to try and conceal his criminality", including a DuckDuckGo search engine and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to obscure his IP address.

Wade, who has no previous convictions, admitted three counts of downloading and one of possessing indecent images of children, and one count of possessing prohibited images of children.

Sarah Holt, defending, said her client made "full admissions" to the police and had since contacted an organisation to try and get help, but was told he would have to pay the cost of the support, which was "prohibitively expensive".

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She said Wade accepted he needed help and that he had "a clear sexual interest" in the images, but wanted the court to know he would never have harmed, approached or attempted to contact a child.

The lawyer said Wade had received support for mental health problems, was on medication, and had something of a "chaotic lifestyle", illustrated by the fact that when police came to search his home, they had to request specialist clothing to keep themselves "safe".

She said he wasn't willing to engage with the authorities to address his cannabis use, "but in all other aspects he is".

Ms Holt urged the judge to follow the recommendations of a pre-sentence report and spare him jail and suggested that a Horizon sex offenders treatment programme could "stop this once and for all".

She said someone with knowledge of how to conceal their actions online didn't fit with Wade, who took his Kindle to the pawnbrokers with images still on it, and in the report he referred to "almost subconsciously wanting to get caught, to bring this these offences to an end".

Jeffrey Wade outside court

Judge Rachel Smith told Wade: "Of note in this case was that the images were shown to include extremely young children and toddlers, some infants, and some clearly involving circumstances which would self-evidently have caused pain and distress."

She said other aggravating features included the "high volume" of images - downloaded mainly in 2017 and 2018 over a "protracted period" of more than two years - and search terms indicating his interest in such young children.

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Judge Smith said: "This is not a victimless crime. For every consumer such as yourself, seeking out images, a real child is abused to create the images."

However, she said the Probation Service believed there was a "low likelihood of re-conviction" and that she noted his mental health issues, chaotic lifestyle, lack of previous convictions and the fact he was "motivated to put this behaviour behind him".

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Judge Smith handed Wade 16 months in jail, suspended for two years, the Horizon programme, and a 40-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR).

She said the RAR would look at whether help could be put in place to support his mental health, encourage him into work and deal with his substance abuse.

Judge Smith said he must sign on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years.

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