POLICE trying to find clues to the whereabouts of a missing man found thousands of depraved sexual images of young boys in his bedroom.

Stephen Goldsmith, of Mary Rose Avenue, Wootton, had been reported missing by his father, and police inspected his bedroom during the search, in April.

They found 16 USB sticks containing moving and still indecent images of children, including Category A images — the worst kind.

They also found a box of printed images and handwritten sheets of paper cataloguing the contents.

Goldsmith, 38, was found by police in an alleyway next to Ryde Golf Course, explained Roderick Blain, prosecuting at the Isle of Wight Crown Court on Thursday.

He was in a distressed state but unharmed and was arrested for possession of the images.

At a court hearing, on June 14, he admitted two counts of possessing indecent photographs of a child.

At the sentencing on Thursday, Mr Blain said the USB sticks contained images of pre-pubescent boys aged seven years to early teens, including oral and anal sex.

There was one particular boy who appeared regularly and there was evidence to suggest he was known to Goldsmith — but he was in America and there was no information on whether he was of an age of consent.

Altogether there were 238 Category A images, 358 Category B images, and 3,654 Category C images.

Oscar Vincent, representing Goldsmith, said probation and psychiatric reports provided a huge amount of detail of various medical issues which have affected Goldsmith for a long time, and he was a highly vulnerable individual.

He had both mental and physical health problems, and had a long history of diagnosed clinical depression and anxiety.

Mr Vincent said Goldsmith had "ongoing attitudes that need to be challenged and addressed" which would be best dealt with by probation in the community, as opposed to him getting a prison sentence.

Goldsmith had been remanded in custody since April 26 to June 14 and since then had been under a stringent 23-hour-a-day curfew at his home, electronically monitored, which he adhered to.

Judge, Recorder Malcolm Gibney, said: "It's only because people like yourself are willing to access these images this abuse takes place and why these images are online."

He said Goldsmith had had his liberty restricted under a rigorous curfew, which had been unusually tightly drawn, and he had complied.

He said he was persuaded Goldsmith was potentially capable of being rehabilitated.

He sentenced him to 22 months in custody, suspended for two years.

He must adhere to a rehabilitation requirement and was given an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.