A MAN who was found with more than 500 child abuse images and videos has been jailed for six months for the "morally depraved" offending.
Darren Hawes, 46, was sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on Friday after he last week pleaded guilty to charges of producing 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.
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The court heard half of the images depicted girls between the ages of six and 12 years.
Defence lawyer Tass Antos last week told the court his client started accessing the material because "the curiosity got the better of (him)".
But Mr Antos conceded the sheer volume of the material meant the offending went further than just "curiosity".
The defence lawyer submitted that rehabilitation was an important factor in sentencing, so jail with a community corrections order would be appropriate.
Magistrate Russell Kelly described the offending as "morally depraved conduct", which was, in its nature, "harmful" to vulnerable children of all ages.
Mr Kelly said despite taking into account Dawes' guilty plea and history of mental health issues, a term of imprisonment was appropriate.
Dawes was jailed for six months, with 84 days reckoned as already served. He was also ordered to complete a two-year community corrections order, with mental health treatment and offence-specific programs.
Dawes will be on the sex offenders register for 15 years.
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