Liam Durnion walked free with just a community order in 2016 after he sexually assaulted a woman in Sunderland, who bit him so she could get away.
But, during a visit by a police officer at his home later that year, the 22-year-old from South Shields - who was being monitored and was on the sex offenders register as a result of the conviction - confessed "I may have images of children on my phone".
Newcastle Crown Court heard Durnion's handset was seized and examined by police, who found 120 indecent pictures and movies of children, 70 of which were in the most serious category of their type.
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Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court Durnion, of Wosley Court, South Shields, had used search phrases such as "under age rape fantasy stories" and "pre-teen incest" to find the sickening images in his collection.
The court heard a search of Durnion's chat logs on social media site Kik revealed he had shared 14 similar images with three other users.
Mr Pallister said: "It became apparent from the inquiries, conversations had taken place between the parties and they had exchanged indecent images.
"It was identified that the defendant had distributed 14 indecent images of children.
"They were located on the device associated with Kik messenger."
The court heard the shared images showed females aged between six and 11 years old.
Durnion pleaded guilty to distributing indecent photographs of children and making indecent photographs of children.
Judge Penny Moreland sentenced him to 27 months behind bars.
The judge told him: "Your position is worsened by the fact these offences were committed in breach of a community order imposed on July 5 2016 for sexual assault."
Robin Turton, defending, said Durnion, who has vulnerabilities, had been candid about the images on his phone and has shown remorse for his behaviour.
Mr Turton added: "He made efforts to change his behaviour as a result of his arrest for these matters.
"He no longer has a mobile phone and has no access to the internet. He does not go out anymore except with his father."
Mr Turton had urged the judge to suspend the prison term and give Durnion a "last chance" to put his life in order and change his behaviour.