A paedophile who downloaded thousands of child sex abuse images has walked free alongside his "supportive" wife.

James Shaw, 33, amassed more than 2,000 indecent images of children as young as four over a 12-year period, Liverpool Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

His partner is "standing by him" and the couple left the court together after Shaw was spared jail for showing "true remorse", the Liverpool Echo reports.

Michael Stephenson, prosecuting, said police raided Shaw's home in Warrington on April 23 last year and seized his laptop before arresting him.

Police experts found a total of 2,058 indecent images of children on the computer, all of which were still photos, and included 79 Category A - the most serious category showing child rape - 123 Category B and 1,856 Category C indecent images.

Shaw leaving court with his wife who is supporting him

Mr Stephenson said there were also 24 "pseudo photos" of children - "cartoon images of them engaged in various sexual activities" - and a single extreme porn image.

Shaw later admitted three counts of downloading and one count of possessing indecent images of children, plus possessing prohibited images of children and extreme porn, between June 2008 and April 2020.

He said Shaw suggested that "after 12 years of viewing pornography of young girls" he "strayed into some very young categories" which judge Recorder Eric Lamb said ranged as young as four.

Recorder Lamb said aggravating features of the case included "the deliberate or systematic searching for images portraying young children" and the "large number of victims".

Shaw had been viewing pornography featuring children for 12 years

However, he said mitigating features included that Shaw had no previous convictions, his remorse, "previous positive good character" and his "steps taken to address offending behaviour".

The court heard Shaw was assessed as being a medium risk of serious harm to children.

Jeremy Rawson, defending, said his client pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity and urged the judge to spare him jail.

He said: "He's a married man, wife standing by him, she sits at the back of court.

"A self-employed civil engineer, with a long history of employment, in fact since leaving university he has not been unemployed, so he's made substantial contribution during his working life."

Recorder Lamb told Shaw: "You have family responsibilities and much as your wife is concerned by the matters which have come to light as a result of this investigation, she has demonstrated both to the author of the pre-sentence report and to you by attending today that she remains supportive of you.

"You're lucky in that respect that you enjoy that support."

The judge said the case had been "hanging over" Shaw since April 2020 and there had been no further offending since.

He said Shaw claimed he received indecent images of children as part of a torrent file download, which "piqued" his interest, but accepted that he then searched for pre-teen photos.

He handed Shaw eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, a 30-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, and told him to attend a Horizon sex offenders treatment programme.

Shaw must sign on the Sex Offenders Register, comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years and also pay £425 towards court costs.