A man has been jailed for 17 years after charity workers discovered pictures him raping a toddler in a bag he donated to the Salvation Army.

Gary Sovie, from Columbus, Ohio, unwittingly handed the photos in a tote bag full of belongings into a second-hand shop.

In total workers found 32 photos, some showing a naked girl and others showing a man sexually assaulting the child who was believed to be between 16-18 months old at the time. The Polaroid images were said to have been found amongst old receipts and post, and are thought to date back to 1999.

Using the discarded information authorities were able to identify Sovie and track him to an address in Pickaway County.

Sovie pleaded guilty to one count each of rape and pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor at Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Friday, 21 October.

According to the Columbus Dispatch he said when he was arrested: "I am a very sick person."

The victim was not present at the hearing and according to the newspaper when urged to say something by his lawyers he said "sorry".

The victim's mother told WBNS-TV in June this year that she, "never suspected this. She has no memory. She has no recollection of this incident. I was beside myself. This was my child. This was my whole world".

Sentencing him to 17 years in jail, Judge Julie Lynch said what he did to the girl "is the bottom of the barrel for a human being". She said: "Right now, you live in the bottom of the barrel, but I bet that bottom is going to fall out for you shortly."

He was fined $35,000 (£28,600) and will be required to register as a sex offender every 90 days for the rest of his life, after he is released from prison.