An IT consultant spent more than a decade amassing a collection of more than 80,000 images of child abuse – and then had the audacity to claim it was a “victimless” crime.
Some of the films featured girls as young as eight being horrifically abused by adult men.
James Hartson, prosecuting, said police executed a search warrant at the defendant’s Swansea home on October 16 last year.
Present at the address were 54-year-old Beard and his wife.
In total some 30 tablet computers, phones, hard drives, and memory sticks were seized and examined.
In total investigators found 33 Category A images and movies – the most explicit kind – 163 Category B images, and 79,237 Category C images. Some of the films ran to more than 90 minutes in length.
Mr Hartson said inquiries showed the material had been downloaded from primarily Russian sites, and then stored on memory cards or external hard drives.
More than 40 live links were found on the Mac computer Beard had been using. The creation dates on some of the pictures went back to 2007.
In interview Beard claimed he did not have any sexual interest in children.
Beard, Sherringham Drive, Newton, Mumbles, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of indecent images when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.
Suzanne Payne, for Beard, said the defendant had, of his own volition, sought help from charities such as the Lucy Faithful Foundation to address his offending.
She said her client had thought what he was doing had been a “victimless crime” but had since come to realise that was not the case.
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The barrister said it may be that Beard “suffers from autism spectrum traits” which may have played a part in the collecting behaviour displayed and, while not an excuse, could go some way to explaining what he did.
The barrister invited the court to step back from imposing an immediate custodial sentence, and to allow probation staff to work with him to continue his “journey of rehabilitation”.
Judge Catherine Richards told the defendant his actions in downloading the indecent images had contributed to the rape and abuse of children, and she was “somewhat skeptical” about the idea that he had been unaware of the harm that was being done.
She said she was prepared to accept there may be elements of Beard’s “neurological makeup” which had contributed to the offending.
She acknowledged the steps the defendant had already taken to try to rehabilitate himself.
Giving the defendant credit for his guilty pleas the judge sentenced him to a total of 12 months in prison suspended for two years.
He was ordered to complete a rehabilitation course, a sex offenders programme and undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.
Beard will a registered sex offender for the next 10 years, and was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the same length of time.