A MAN who downloaded child pornography at his mother's home has been spared jail.
Paul Barry Noonan, 41, was given a suspended sentence on Tuesday for possession of more than 500 sexual images and videos of children as young as five-years-old.
Noonan was sentenced to six months prison, wholly suspended for two years. He was placed on the sex offender registry for life and ordered to serve a 12-month reconnaissance order.
Judge John Carmody said he accepted Noonan had shown remorse and said he was a low risk of reoffending.
Noonan downloaded the child pornography files between 2009 and 2012 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 2012.
The Bendigo County Court heard Noonan saved a collection of 584 pornographic files, with most depicting low-level categories of sexual content.
Noonan named one of his USB drives 'Santa'.
Judge Carmody described the offending as a "dark and dirty secret".
He said he took into account Noonan's contrition but said there was a need to send a message of general deterrence to the community.
"The sample of images (from Noonan's computer) are repugnant and abhorrent," he said.
"It is not a victimless crime... It creates a demand for the child pornography market."
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 about young girls".
A psychiatric report read to the court noted Noonan had depression and anxiety, and had shown insight into his offending.
Noonan is the sole carer for his mother, who is clinically obese and suffers a heart condition and other medical issues.
Judge Carmody ordered Noonan to comply with strict conditions including a sex offender program. Noonan was also put on a two-year good behaviour bond.
The offending pre-dates new Victorian legislation that has abolished suspended sentences for cases heard in the County Court or Supreme Court.