Hundreds of indecent photos of children, including some of babies, were found on the computer of a shamed nurse at his home in Alfreton, a court heard.
Extreme pornography, showing the abuse of animals as well as people, was also among the “highly unsavoury” material viewed by Andrew McLeish.
The 53-year-old McLeish, a senior operating theatre practitioner at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, was handed a suspended prison-sentence when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court.
Judge James Sampson told him: “I accept it is unlikely that you would transfer your attentions into direct action against children.
“But these are gross offences. You were partaking in the abuse of children by viewing images of the most distressing kind.
“You used particular software to access this material, and you dedicated yourself to this activity for a number of years.”
McLeish was arrested after his former home on Main Road, Higham, Alfreton, was raided in March last year, the court was told by Nicholas Burn (prosecuting).
He was at work at the time, but police officers executed a search warrant and removed hard drives and computer equipment from a workshop at the address.
When the hard drives were examined, more than 1,100 images of children were discovered, many of them classed as category A, as well as movies.
“Some of the equipment seized allowed McLeish to browse the web and use chat forums with anonymity,” said Mr Burn.
A computer was also taken away from the house. A hardware fault meant that only five per cent of data could be located, but even this revealed 45 more indecent images of children and another movie.
“Some of the children were as young as six to 12 months,” said Mr Burn. “They were depicted in various sexual settings. It was highly unsavoury material, containing distressing activities.”
When interviewed by police, McLeish offered no comment or explanation for his behaviour.
But in court, he pleaded guilty to four charges. Two related to the making of a total of 454 indecent photos of children, one related to the possession of 12 prohibited images of children and the other related to the possession of 637 images of extreme pornography -- all between August 2010 and March 2015.
A probation report and a psychiatric report were prepared on McLeish and presented to the judge.
McLeish’s barrister, William Bennett, mitigating, said: “The motivation for these offences, which is included in these reports, is something the court might have difficulty accepting.
“But he accepts that this was illegal behaviour and that he has a real problem and needs help.
“For some time, he has been depressed. He was at a low ebb and had problems in his family life.
“This has had an enormous effect on him.”
The court was told that McLeish was now living in Essex.
The judge sentenced him to a total of 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was ordered to come under the supervision of the probation service for 12 months and attend an Internet sexual offending programme.
McLeish was also placed on the sex offenders’ register and subjected indefinitely to a sexual harm prevention order, which means he he is not allowed to use or possess any computer material that allows him to access the Internet unless it retains its history and can be easily examined. Failure to comply with this order would make him liable to a punishment of five years in jail.