A veteran Canberra public servant used thousands of disgusting child abuse videos and pictures to "self-soothe" while he was "depressed out of his brain".
The disgraceful habit got Benedict John Cusack locked up on Wednesday, when the 42-year-old pornography addict was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court to a year in jail.
Justice Michael Elkaim ordered that the balance of the term be suspended after two months, however, with an 18-month good behaviour order to take effect when Cusack is released in June.
Agreed facts tendered to the court show that Cusack accessed 2517 files of child abuse material over a period of nearly five years, with 1001 of them saved on his laptop at the time of his arrest in February last year.
Cusack, who had worked in the public service for more than 15 years, resigned after he was charged with possessing and accessing child abuse material.
The Evatt man ultimately pleaded guilty to three charges, and told a psychologist who gave evidence on Wednesday that he was not sexually attracted to children.
But "in the porn world", Cusack reportedly told the expert, he would watch "anything that moves".
The psychologist, Dr Bruce Stevens, gave evidence that he had assessed Cusack as being "psychologically vulnerable" and at a high risk of suicide if jailed.
He described Cusack as a pornography addict who seemed to have used graphic material in an effort to "self-soothe".
"I think he was depressed out of his brain," the psychologist said.
Dr Stevens said some people got drunk or played poker machines to cope, but Cusack had "slipped across the boundary [from adult pornography] to a place he knew was wrong and illegal".
"He was so self-destructive he didn't care whether he was caught," the psychologist said.
Dr Stevens also said Cusack had acknowledged having "lucid moments" where he knew he was viewing the abuse of children, yet the 42-year-old did not stop.
The court heard that Cusack had written a letter of remorse, saying: "I couldn't unsee what I had seen. What kind of person does this? What have I become?"
Cusack's barrister, Beth Morrisroe, said the 42-year-old had demonstrated an uncommon level of insight into his offending and therefore had good prospects for rehabilitation.
"This started as an addiction to ordinary or legal pornography, and it spiralled from there into something very dark," she told the court.
Ms Morrisroe said Cusack had "sought help from wherever he can find it" since being charged.
She flagged an intention to seek an intensive correction order assessment, but abandoned that plan when Justice Elkaim said he did not think a community-based jail sentence would be appropriate.
Federal prosecutor Zoe Hough agreed with the judge's stance, saying Cusack's crimes were "morally abhorrent".
Prior to sentencing Cusack, Justice Elkaim looked at samples of the material the 42-year-old was caught with, in order to assess its depravity.
He was dismayed by what he saw, saying it featured "an inordinate number" of children who would no doubt suffer lasting damage as a result of being abused.
"There are literally no words to describe what the children who are the subject of the images experienced," Justice Elkaim said.
The judge noted that every time a person accessed or downloaded child abuse material, those who produced and traded in it were encouraged to continue doing so.
He said prospective viewers of such material should therefore be "comfortably certain" of being locked up once they were caught.
In ordering that Cusack be released after two months in custody, Justice Elkaim said he accepted that the 42-year-old had shown "real remorse".
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