A magistrate from Croydon known as "The Zoo Man" who trawled the internet for images of children being sexually abused was today jailed for nine months.

Zoologist Terry Mills, 58, spent his days visiting primary schools showing children exotic reptiles and his evenings building up a library of child pornography.

He watched a film entitled "German Blondie" and received emails marked "British Boys" and "Busy at Both Ends", Southwark Crown Court heard.

The JP, who is believed to sit at Croydon Magistrates Court, was caught out after police found his computer details on a well-known pedophile website.

Mills downloaded 190 indecent pictures and movie clips of children under the age of 18 between December 2003 and September last year.

Material stored on Mills' two computers showed children either adopting "sexual poses" or being "sexually abused by adults", the court heard.

At least 14 photographs and one movie clip depicted children being subjected to sado-masochism or forced to have sex with animals.

Mills was arrested on September 18 last year and the computers were seized from his Croydon home.

But before the machines could be examined, Mills claimed he had been a victim of identity fraud and his credit card details had been stolen.

Both computers contained special "deletion" software - designed to wipe the hard drive clean - but police were still able to uncover numerous images.

The court heard the plug had been pulled straight out when the police came in to Mills' home as the computer had not been shut down properly.

Mills denied the offences and claimed someone must have planted the pictures on his computer.

David Osborne, defending, told the court the conviction had a "shattering" effect on his client's reputation.

Judge Peter Testar said: "He has worked hard and contributed a lot to the world, and I'm interested that he started his working life building musical instruments then qualifying as a zoologist and has taught that subject for many years.

He added: "The gravity of these offences, particularly given the tender age of the children, is that there is a market for this material. Somebody somewhere is making money out of it.

"It is passed from one person to another and ultimately somewhere there is a child who is exploited for the purposes of creating the image."

Mills, of Arundel Road, Croydon was found guilty of 11 counts of making indecent images of children between December 2003 and September last year.

He was ordered to sign on the sex offenders register for 10 years.