A MAN who was found with more than 500 child abuse images and videos is facing up to 12 months in jail.
Darren Hawes, 46, appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on Friday where he pleaded guilty to charges of producing, accessing, and possessing child abuse material.
The court heard on February 10, 2018, Hawes was looking at family photos with his long-term partner.
As the woman was clicking through the images, she saw a photo of a naked girl who was believed to be between the ages of 18 months and two years.
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The court heard the couple argued about the image and Hawes demanded his partner destroy the laptop, which she did.
Their relationship ended shortly after and in June 2020, the woman reported the incident to police.
On June 26, the woman had a recorded conversation with Hawes about the child abuse material.
He told his former partner "it wasn't a problem" for him anymore and that he had "made some big changes" in the subsequent two years.
Police executed a search warrant at Hawes' Kyabram properties on July 8. They seized several devices, including a tablet, mobile phone, and SD cards.
On the devices, police found 538 child abuse images and videos.
The material depicted children between the ages of six months and 15 years being sexually abused by adults and other children.
The court heard half of the images depicted girls between the ages of six and 12 years.
Defence lawyer Tass Antos told the court there was "no denying" that the offending was "reprehensible".
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Mr Antos said prior to his arrest, Hawes had been a man who had continual work and a strong relationship with his family.
The defence lawyer said Hawes' "world had come crumbling down" after he was charged and he needed to be hospitalised for mental health issues.
Mr Antos said Hawes advised he started accessing the material because "the curiosity got the better of (him)".
But the defence lawyer conceded the sheer volume of the material meant the offending went further than just "curiosity".
Mr Antos submitted that rehabilitation was an important factor in sentencing, so jail with a community corrections order would be appropriate.
Magistrate Russell Kelly agreed that a combination sentence would be within range.
Mr Kelly indicated that Hawes would receive up to 12 months in jail with a two-year community corrections order.
The magistrate said he was yet to determine the length of the prison term.
The case was adjourned to next week so Hawes could be assessed for a corrections order. The 46-year-old was remanded in custody.
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