A 66-year-old state official who was caught with nearly 60,000 images and videos depicting child pornography has escaped jail conviction.

Brendan Phelan, a retired civil servant who worked in the Department of Health and Children during his lengthy career, received a suspended three year sentence.

The man, with an address in the South Dublin suburb of Blackrock, was caught in possession with  nearly 60,000 child pornography images and videos relating to young boys.

The retired worker pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography after his home was raided by gardaí  on March 26, 2013.

At the time, he had admitted to gardaí that he had a “fair bit” of child pornography.

The retired principal officer was heard to have possessed many files which showed pre-pubescent boys engaged in sexual behavior. Gardaí had been tipped off by Canadian officials.

Read More: Former RTE producer Kieran Creaven gets 18 months after grooming young girls online

When raiding Phelan's home, they seized a computer, a laptop and five external hard drives, and a suitcase of DVDs.

When the material was eventually examined four years later, gardaí discovered 58,585 child pornography images and 1,046 movies.

The majority of the files were “naturist” and concentrated on young boys' genitalia, while others were of a "more serious nature", Garda Peter Woods told the court. 

Read More: Father of Irishman said to be world's largest facilitator of child porn insists his son is innocent

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Judge Martin Nolan told the court that there was an “unfortunate delay” in bringing the case to court due to a lack of resources within the garda unit.

No jail for Department of Health and Children State Official Brendan Phelan (66) caught with nearly 60,000 child pornography images and videos. Where are the #IBelieveHer crowd now? Where is the outrage?

— michael doyle (@CowboyJunkie) April 16, 2018

Waterford native Phelan was only charged last year. His legal representative promised that the man has rehabilitated himself. 

His defence counsel, Philipp Rahn BL, added that Phelan does not appear to have had any romantic or sexual relationships throughout his life.

Another sickening decision from the courts as ex senior civil servant found in possession of nearly 60,000 child sexual abuse images and videos walks free https://t.co/Koeq1DjhaJ

— Gemma O'Doherty (@gemmaod1) April 16, 2018

"Phelan is extremely remorseful for his behavior. He used the images only for himself and did not produce any or send them on to anyone else," Rahn said.

The court was told he is at low risk of re-offending. Judge Nolan said that Phelan would be added on to the sex offenders register.

Brendan Phelan, an Irish state official, was caught in possession with nearly 60,000 child pornography images and video. He will not be going to prison.