Bradley Sedgeman, aged 25, downloaded 25 pictures from the internet while living with his parents, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
He told police who searched his home that he knew he had a problem which “had got out of control”.
His barrister told a judge that he had contacted a help group before his arrest, though he had not deleted the images.
Ali Rafati added that the shop worker had been supported by his family and his employers in the two years since the offence.
Handing him a long community order with sex offender treatment, Recorder Robert Bright said that he accepted Sedgeman had stopped downloading images before the police visit.
The judge said that internet search terms on his laptop showed he had hunted the images.
Sedgeman, of Bodmin Road, Whitleigh, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of indecent images, relating to each of the categories of seriousness.
He had 25 pictures in total, including ten in the most severe category, showing children being raped by adults.
Katie Churcher, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said police traced indecent images to an IP address at the home Sedgeman was then sharing with his parents.
Officers searched his home on September 12, 2018 and the defendant immediately handed over his devices and said that he was the one to blame.
Miss Churcher added: “He said in police interview that he had a problem which had got out of control. He said that it had started by him accessing legitimate sites and he had became curious and followed links to other sites.
“He told police officers he was very sorry and that he wanted help to address his problems.”
Mr Rafati said there was an element of punishment in having to wait two years to be sentenced.
Sedgeman was handed a three-year community order with sex offender treatment.
He was handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which will allow police to monitor his internet use for five years and must sign the Sex Offender Register for the same period.