A "METICULOUS" digital library cataloguing a decade of child sex abuse was crucial evidence in bringing Wiltshire's most prolific paedophile to justice, police have said.

Peter Daniels, aged 70, was sentenced today at Salisbury Crown Court, for 78 counts of child sex abuse representing hundreds of vile crimes.

The court heard how Daniels, formerly of Alderbury but now of HMP Isle of Wight, would film his young victims on a camcorder or camera phone.

His offending, believed to have taken place over a ten-year period from 2008, came to light after one of his victims, then aged 15, said Daniels had touched her breast while she was at his home.

The disclosures made by the victim helped police to identify a number of other young, female children within Salisbury's community.

What followed was a 20-month investigation by Wiltshire Police dubbed Operation Meteor.

During that time, police spoke to more than 500 people, including interviewing more than 30 children, and 25 specialist officers from across the county preparing witness statements and examination of evidence.

Detective Sergeant Eirin Martin, from Salisbury CID, praised her team for their hard work and dedication to the investigation.

"The examination of digital media uncovered over 4,000 images and videos directly relating to the victims in this case, as well as over 600,000 indecent images of children," she said.

"The work undertaken to examine and categorise these images has been difficult and painstaking, for which the team have been specially supported to complete."

The media was found on a heavily encrypted hard drive at Daniels' home, where he lived alone.

The thorough work by police uncovered evidence that 22 children aged between two and 15-years-old had been abused by Daniels over a 10-year period, and led to a successful prosecution of 78 charges.

READ: How did Daniels go undetected for a decade - despite reports to police and social services? >>>

Head of safeguarding at Wiltshire Council Jen Salter said it is hard to explain why the first victim came forward when she did, after Daniels had so successfully manipulated the children into keeping his secret, but without her bravery the extent of his crimes may have never been uncovered.

Claire Booth, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said it was Daniel's arrogance in assuming he would never be exposed that led him to record his crimes in such great detail.

"He was so confident that he would not be exposed, and that the victims wouldn’t speak out," she said.

"I think that’s probably why he felt he was able to do what he did."

And Ms Booth also said that without the videos and images, 19 of Daniels' victims would never have been identified.

"The majority, I don’t know for what reason, have said that nothing really happened, but it’s absolutely apparent that horrific things happened to them over a number of years," she said.

"I have no doubt it would have continued, and I have no doubt that as girls got older and either came to the realisation of what was happening or his interest in them waned, that he would have continued abusing their younger siblings and seeking out other victims."

If you have any concerns or suspect a young person is a victim or is at risk of child sexual exploitation you can contact Wiltshire Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency, or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, help@nspcc.org.uk or report a concern online.