A man caught with a massive haul of child abuse images that a sheriff described as “the most appalling material” he had ever encountered has been spared jail.
Jeffrey Underwood amassed a collection of almost 20,000 still images and videos depicting horrific sexual abuse of children as young as three and women carrying out sex acts with horses and dogs.
Graphic descriptions of some of the images – too obscene to print – were read out after Underwood admitted two charges committed over the course of more than three-and-a-half years.
A sheriff earlier told Underwood: “I come across this type of case regularly – to say this material is more extreme is a significant statement.”
Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie told Dundee Sheriff Court that officers raided Underwood’s flat close to Dundee city centre in October last year.
She said: “Officers seized a laptop, an external hard drive, USB stick and a tablet. It was analysed by cyber crime officers.
“In total they found 19,917 still images and nine videos of indecent images of children.
“There were also 1183 extreme pornography images and one video.
“He appears to have been actively carrying out searches for children, particularly young children.”
Underwood, 48, of Bonnethill Court, Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to possessing indecent images of children between March 2014 and October 2017 and possessing extreme pornography between April 4 2016 and October 13 2017.
Defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith said Underwood was a “lonely and isolated” man.
He added: “He has never been in trouble before but now he finds himself charged with two very serious offences.”
Sheriff Alastair Brown imposed a community payback order with three years supervision and an order that he take part in a sex offenders group work programme.
Underwood was also placed on the sex offenders register for three years.
The sheriff said: “The kind of stuff you were looking at is illegal, and it is illegal because when it is produced children get hurt.
“These are real children suffering real abuse and it does real damage.
“If you look at this stuff again, if you have anything to do with it, you are going to end up in prison.”
In July the same sheriff said of the case: “What is described is some of the most appalling material I have ever encountered.”
Reacting to the sentencing, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Scotland spokesman said: “The distribution of child abuse images is a global criminal industry which must be stopped.
“Behind every picture or video is a real child suffering vile and life-changing abuse. By downloading this awful material Underwood has fuelled the demand for it to be produced.
“The war on this appalling online trade is only just beginning and NSPCC Scotland is campaigning for internet companies, government and law enforcement to do far more to prevent abuse images from being produced and circulated in the first place.
“Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child or young person can call the NSPCC helpline for free, 24/7, on 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline at any time on 0800 1111.”