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The sentence Douglas Hugh Stewart received does not include the 7 ½ months he has already spent behind bars. ((CBC))

A New Brunswick man has been sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the largest collection of child pornography ever seized in Canada.

Douglas Hugh Stewart, 52, of Moncton earlier pleaded guilty to possessing, accessing and distributing child pornography.

He was sentenced Monday to five years for distribution, 4½ years for accessing and 4½ years for possession. The sentences will be served concurrently, starting immediately.

Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman did not include the 7½ months Stewart has already spent behind bars. His name will be added to the national sex offender registry for life and he will have to provide a DNA sample.

In her decision, Dugas-Horsman said the children in the photos are "countless, nameless, but that does not mean that they don't exist."

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock said police found almost six million images and videos of girls — more than 4.5 million pornographic. The others were images of children who were nude, including in bathtubs.

Lamrock said Stewart had been collecting since the 1980s and he looked for new material on a regular basis, and the size of the collection is something never dealt with before in Canadian courts.

Police spent 700 hours going through the images, involving girls as young as two years old.

The Crown had recommended a sentence of five to seven years in prison.

Defence lawyer Maurice Blanchard had requested a four-year term. The defence said Stewart has no criminal record, and co-operated with police from the beginning of the case.

Stewart wants help

Blanchard has also said his client knows he has an illness and wants to get help.

Stewart, who was unmarried, worked as a customer service manager and lived in his father's basement.

His Aug. 19 sentencing was delayed after provincial court heard his psychiatric evaluation had not yet begun due to a shortage of qualified professionals.

The Crown and defence jointly recommended the evaluation to help determine Stewart's risk of reoffending and assist the judge in sentencing.

Stewart was arrested March 23 as part of Operation J Treasures, a joint police investigation into peer-to-peer computer file sharing of child sexual abuse images in New Brunswick.

The Atlantic Region Integrated Technical Crime Unit, Codiac Regional RCMP, Fredericton police, the National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre and RCMP districts throughout the province assisted in the investigation, which began in November 2010.