A middle-aged man who kept videos of young children being sexually abused should be spared time in jail, largely because he deleted some videos that weren't to his taste, a lawyer says.
The ACT Supreme Court on Monday heard Lee Armstrong's own counsellor described his crimes as "absolutely f---ing disgusting".
The Canberra resident has pleaded guilty to possessing and accessing child exploitation material, and faces a maximum 15 years in jail on both charges.
On Monday, Armstrong's lawyer Sam McLaughlin said his client should be dealt a term of imprisonment, but he argued he should serve it by way of an intensive correction order.
An intensive correction order is a jail sentence served in the community rather than behind bars.
Mr McLaughlin said Acting Justice David Robinson should consider that the majority of the videos police found on Armstrong's computer had already been in the device's recycle bin.
He said Armstrong would "peruse" the start of child abuse videos and, if they were to his liking, would watch them. He said if not, Armstrong would delete them right away.
"It is really, arguably, the viewing of the material [that results in the most harm]," Mr McLaughlin said.
"[Armstrong] has demonstrated an [intention] not to view that material any further."
Mr McLaughlin said that while it had never been Armstrong's intention to distribute the videos, some of them had been in a publicly accessible folder.
"The deletion of those videos removes them from that publicly accessible location," he said.
Prosecutor Libby Sutton said the judge would be within his rights to grant Armstrong an intensive correction order, but it was an "inherently more lenient" sentencing option than full-time jail.
She argued the harm had been done to child abuse victims "when the file [was] downloaded", and noted one of the videos on Armstrong's computer was a compilation of an eight-year-old child being abused.
Mr McLaughlin noted that video, which went for one hour and 42 minutes, was one of those Armstrong had deleted, but Ms Sutton said another video showed a tied-up child being sexually abused.
"[Armstrong was] an active participant in the market, which fuels the industry," Ms Sutton said.
Mr McLaughlin urged the judge to consider whether it was necessary to put Armstrong behind bars, or whether he would be just as deterred from reoffending by an intensive correction order.
Acting Justice Robinson said he would sentence Armstrong next week.