A man from Lowestoft was told he was fortunate to avoid jail for downloading indecent images of children – some as young as 18 months.

John Clarkson, of London Road South, appeared for sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday. He was facing three charges of making indecent images.

The court heard that officers from the public protection unit visited Clarkson’s home in November 2021 for a routine but unannounced visit.

The 45-year-old was placed on the sex offenders register in 2019 after being convicted of possessing child pornography.

During a search of Clarkson’s laptop, officers discovered the indecent images. Clarkson was cautioned and his devices were seized.

Further examination uncovered a total of 609 photographs and 153 videos of category A, the most serious.

Prosecuting counsel Marti Blair told the court that the youngest victims were judged to be between 18 and 24 months old.

Other victims were thought to be aged three to five, six to eight, and nine to 11. The distress of the victims was noted.

Clarkson’s devices also showed evidence of 561 images and 42 videos at category B, and 1,525 images and 41 videos at category C.

The court heard that Clarkson was arrested and interviewed in January last year. He gave a “full and frank admission” that he had viewed and downloaded the images and pleaded guilty to the charges.

In sentencing Clarkson, Judge David Wilson noted that the defendant had taken steps to address his behaviour, and had received support from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which works to prevent child sexual abuse.

He handed Clarkson a sentence of 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for which Judge Wilson told Clarkson he should “consider yourself fortunate”.

He will be placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order is in place. He will be subject to an alcohol abstinence requirement for 90 days, as the judge found alcohol to be a “driving factor”.

Clarkson was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £450 and will complete up to 45 rehabilitation activity requirement days.