A LATVIAN factory worker visited chatrooms and downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children as young as toddlers, a court heard.

Zigmar Baiks, of Popley, was sentenced to 20 months in prison when he appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday, July 26, after admitting to three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of distributing indecent images of children.

The court heard that between May 2013 and March 2016, the 37-year-old downloaded more than 1,000 indecent images of children while visiting an online chatroom where he would be sent links to graphic shots of children aged from one to 16.

He further admitted to taking six indecent images of children and distributing them on the site.

In court, Edward Phillips, prosecuting, said Baiks was first interviewed by police in 2016 and officers retrieved a mobile phone, laptop, a memory stick and USB stick from his address.

He was interviewed a second time after the devices that were found to contain 226 category A images - the most explicit category - 213 category B images and 631 category C images.

Mr Phillips said: “The defendant acknowledged he had entered a chatroom and would download some images from that site. He said that if he remained on the chatroom long enough people would send links.

“So far as the mobile phone is concerned, he said only he had access to that phone.”

The court heard when Baiks was initially arrested in March last year, he denied taking the six photographs of children and distributing them on the site.

Mr Phillips added: “In the second interview when the phone examination had been conducted the defendant admitted to taking those photographs of the children.”

He further told the court the photos found on the memory stick and USB stick were duplications and that Baiks had no previous convictions.

Robin Sellers, defending, said the chatroom visits started out of curiosity and that his conviction for distributing images was only possible because of the defendant’s honesty in police interview.

He said: “He is a man who originated from Latvia. He has been in this country for 10 years. He works night shifts in factories and the like. As I have said the defendant realises the gravity of the situation.”

Sentencing Baiks to 20 months in prison, Judge Susan Evans said: “It is right to say that a number of the images were duplicated but there are however a large amount of category A images.

“On your computer the images of young children are aged 10 to 16. But on the USB stick the children are much younger and on your phone they are aged one to three.

“Of the images that you downloaded from the internet, the category A images included a large number of moving images.

“These are real children suffering real and horrific abuse.”

Judge Evans ordered Baiks spend half of his custodial sentence in prison and the rest be served on licence in the community. She also made him the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years and ordered that he sign the sex offender register for 10 years.

Forfeiture and destruction of all devices was also ordered.