A MAN who downloaded more than 500 child pornography files could face jail.
Paul Barry Noonan, 41, pleaded guilty on Thursday to downloading the files at the home he shares with his mother in Derrinal, north of Heathcote.
A tip-off from the Australian Federal Police led to Noonan's arrest and the seizure of his computer and USB hard drives in January this year.
The Bendigo County Court heard Noonan had saved a collection of 584 files between February 2009 and January 2012.
The images and videos showed children aged between five and 15, with most depicting low-level categories of sexual content.
Noonan had named one of his USB drives 'Santa'.
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions' Aman Dhillon said it was very serious offending that perpetuated the abuse of children.
"Without people distributing it and downloading it there would be no need for children to be exploited, degraded and violated," he said.
The court heard Noonan was sexually abused when he was a child, which affected his mental health and contributed to his offending.
Noonan told police he looked at the child pornography because he had "fantasies of young girls".
Defence counsel Kate Youngson said Noonan had depression and anxiety.
Mrs Youngson argued for a non-custodial sentence and said her client needed ongoing counselling.
"There is a link between the abuse he suffered as a child (and) the offending," she said.
"He is ashamed and embarrassed by his actions... He is still unable to speak to his mother about the position he has found himself in."
Judge John Carmody urged Noonan to tell his mother about the child pornography and said it would be hard on her to find out through the newspapers.
The court heard charges of accessing and possessing child pornography had increased in recent years and could carry maximum penalties of up to 15 years in jail.
Judge Carmody said it was an insidious crime that required a message of general deterrence to the community.
He said Noonan had retreated to a "dark and secret place" in the three years he spent trawling through child pornography sites.
"It was not until police discovered it and shone a light on it that he realised the bigger picture," he said.
Noonan will be sentenced next Tuesday.