The District Court has been told Kyle Terence Chaplin used his RSPCA laptop to download 137 images over an eight-month period in 2007. One of the images showed a child being raped.
The court was told Chaplin, at the time of his arrest, was also a highly placed Surf Life Saving Queensland volunteer and the holder of a "blue card" which allowed him to train and rescue children.
Lawyers for Chaplin said he resigned from his 14-year role with the RSPCA when arrested in late 2007, while police took possession of his blue card, putting an end to his voluntary life saving.
Chaplin, 42, was last week sentenced to a 12-month wholly suspended prison term, 18 months' probation and a $1000 good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to using the internet to access child pornography.
The offence, which is a crime under Federal Government laws, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail and a $66,000 fine.
Commonwealth prosecutor Rebecca Bellamy said Austrian police tipped off Australian Federal Police about the Chaplin's computer accessing child pornography on a website they had been monitoring.
Ms Bellamy said both AFP and Queensland police officers then searched Chaplin's house and seized his RSPCA-issued laptop.
The court was told forensic testing of the computer revealed as many as 215 images of pornography featuring "toddler to teenage" aged girls had been accessed.
But only 137 images of child pornography could be retrieved from the computer's hard drive and viewed.
Ms Bellamy said Chaplin told police the images must have been accidentally viewed while he used his work computer to surf the internet for adult pornography.
But the court heard police found evidence that Chaplin had not only clicked on sites to view the child pornography, he also magnified specific images to get a clearer look at the material.
Ms Bellamy said it was commonly accepted up to 89 per cent of child pornography in Australia was obtained over the internet.
Barrister Kate Greenwood, for Chaplin, said her client first accessed child pornography around the time a study was published that gave some insight into people who abused animals.
Ms Greenwood said the academic study asserted that people who abused animals were also far more likely to abuse children.
Judge John Robertson, in sentencing Chaplin, said the availability and downloading of child pornography across the globe was an increasing and horrendous problem.
"Some of the images (on Chaplin's computer) involve actual sexual (abuse) of actual children somewhere in the world," he said.