A BENFLEET man is facing jail after pleading guilty to downloading thousands of indecent images of children in just nine months.

Richard Eastwood, of St Clements Road, was arrested after police discovered the “vast number of images” on his computer.

He could now be facing a prison sentence, after pleading guilty to eight counts of making indecent images of children, at a hearing at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday.

The court heard Eastwood, 39, downloaded more than 4,100 images between April 2012 and January 2013.

Caroline Moonan, Eastwood’s lawyer, said his computer usage was being monitored and since January 2013 he had not engaged in any further illegal activity.

However, despite his early guilty plea, Judge Owen Davies told Eastwood he could face an immediate prison sentence due to the severity of his crimes.

He will also have to sign the sex offenders’ register.

Judge Davies said: “It is highly undesirable this case has taken so long to come to court. It seems odd making this case well after his arrest. Your client must understand he has to sign a register.

"I am making no promises at all; he shouldn’t accept that just because he is being granted bail today that he will retain his liberty.

“This is a vast number of images all depicting a multitude of young victims.

“Without there being consumers of this material these offences would not be committed against children. This is a very serious matter.

“Certainly you may face nothing other than an immediate custodial sentence which meets the justice of this.”

Eastwood is also facing one charge of possessing an extreme pornographic image which he denies.

He has been released on unconditional bail and will be sentenced at a later hearing at Basildon Crown Court on May 15.