A pervert claimed he was about to turn paedophile hunter when police raided his home and found indecent images of children aged as young as just two.
Simon Chambers told police he had downloaded the sickening pictures, of children aged between two and seven, onto his phone, to be used as part of a "sting" to identify local paedophiles.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 50-year-old, of Stanhope Road, South Shields, later pleaded guilty to three offences of making indecent images of children.
Judge Stephen Earl sentenced Chambers to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with programme and rehabilitation requirements.
Chambers was ordered to sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.
The judge told him his excuse for having the images was "fanciful" and added: "This wasn't a sting operation in action. This was for your own sexual gratification, as you have admitted by virtue of your plea."
Judge Earl added: "One of the things we all hold true is the fact we protect those weakest in society. The weakest of all are children.
"Unfortunately, while there are people viewing and distributing these sort of images, there will be people to take these sort of images."
Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court police had raided Chambers' home on December 12 last year and seized his phone, which contained 100 images, across all categories of seriousness.
Mr Bunch said: "All were still images. The age range, assessed by the expert from the police forensic unit, was between the ages of two and seven."
The court heard during initial interview by police, Chambers claimed some material may have been downloaded on his phone accidentally and then been deleted.
Mr Bunch added: "The defendant was reinterviewed following the interrogation of the device.
"He gave a long, convoluted, account, suggesting the images had been downloaded by him for use in order to set up a sting operation to identify local paedophiles."
Jennifer Coxon, defending, said Chambers has no previous convictions and did admit his guilt.