A man who downloaded indecent images of babies and young children being sexually abused claimed he did it to try and trap paedophiles.
But Nicholas Ferguson, 31, changed his story when he spoke to social workers and admitted he had “a predilection” for child pornography.
After Ferguson was arrested and released on bail, he continued to search for obscene images.
At Inverness Sheriff Court today, Ferguson was jailed for 28 months for his collection of photographs and videos.
Sheriff Sara Matheson said that only a custodial sentence was appropriate for the first offender “due to the number of images, and moving images” depicting extreme abuse.
Ferguson had previously admitted several offences and sentence was deferred for a background report.
Sheriff Matheson heard that Ferguson sent obscene screenshots to a Moray man he suspected could be an abuser.
The Moray man then reported it to police after being engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with Ferguson in February 2019. Ferguson also claimed to have had sex with children as young as five.
Fiscal depute David Morton said Ferguson was traced to an address in Dalneigh and a laptop and phone were seized. The phone had the number used to contact the Moray man.
Mr Morton said that Ferguson told officers during the police interview he was “hoping to try and lure people into admitting things in the hope of finding predators”.
He was arrested and charged but released on bail in April.
A further mobile phone was taken by the police later in the year.
A total of 494 images were recovered from one device, with a third of them being of the most obscene type.
Also 165 videos were found and most of them were in the same category.
The court heard Ferguson’s cloud storage of images and videos depicted extreme sexual activity involving babies and young children.
Further interrogation of another device belonging to Ferguson and obtained in an Inverness shop discovered 129 images and 53 videos created while he was on bail.
Again most were in the highest category, involving boys aged between two and 10.
Ferguson, of St Ninian’s Drive, Inverness, pleaded guilty to assault, two breaches of bail, downloading, possessing and distributing indecent images and making an indecent communication.
Defence solicitor Shahid Latif said his client was diagnosed with “a complex post traumatic stress disorder linked to his early childhood and adolescence”.
He added: “Following that, his life spiralled out of control, punctuated by episodes of self-loathing, and he has been on a long period of self-destruction.”
Ferguson was also placed on the Sex Offender’s Register for 10 years.