Home UK News Police Chief Inspector ‘commits suicide before charge to distribute child pornography with retired officers’

Police Chief Inspector ‘commits suicide before charge to distribute child pornography with retired officers’

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Jack Addis, who is already serving a sentence for voyeurism and indecent images (Image: MET)

Two retired Metropolitan Police officers have confessed to a three-year scheme to share images of child sexual abuse with an active Met chief inspector, who was discovered deceased prior to being prosecuted.

Thursday at Southwark Crown Court, Jack Addis, 63, and Jeremy Laxton, 62, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Richard Watkinson, 49, to distribute or exhibit indecent images of minors. On January 12, the body of Watkinson, a serving Met chief inspector for neighbourhood policing at the West Area Command Unit, was discovered in Buckinghamshire.

He had been suspended following his arrest in July 2021 and was scheduled to appear in court that day to address charges of conspiracy, three counts of making indecent photographs of children, voyeurism, and two counts of misconduct in public office.

Jeremy Laxton
Jeremy Laxton confessed possessing thousands of indecent images (Image: MET)

His death is being regarded as unexplained but not suspicious, and an inquest has adjourned. According to the indictment, the three men conspired to “distribute or show indecent images of children to each other” between January 1, 2018 and July 10, 2021.

The images discovered on a computer hard drive included 2,516 Category A images – the worst type – 1,032 Category B images, and 1,702 Category C images.

Laxton, a resident of Grantham, Lincolnshire, pled guilty to three counts of creating indecent images of a minor, possession of a prohibited image, possession of an extreme pornographic image, and possession of cannabis on or before September 20, 2021.

The images include 6,086 in Category A, 4,039 in Category B, 3,597 in Category C, seven prohibited images of a child, and 56 extreme pornographic images depicting a person having sex with an animal that were “grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an extreme character,” according to the indictment.

Between December 1, 2019 and May 1, 2021, he also confessed to intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of the offence of misconduct in a public office.

The court heard that Laxton, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark grey suit, has previously pled guilty to identical offences at Lincoln Crown Court, whereas Addis, from Perthshire, is currently serving time in a Scottish penitentiary. He appeared in court via video-link from HMP Dumfries, where he is serving a sentence of 18 months for three charges of voyeurism and possession of indecent photographs of a minor.

Judge Tony Baumgartner adjourned sentencing to a date to be fixed and granted Laxton conditional bail ahead of the next hearing on June 23. The judge said: “A lengthy custodial sentence is inevitable but I will extend bail again to allow him to put his life in order.”

His bail conditions include a requirement that he reside at his home address, surrender his passport and not apply for documents to travel outside of England and Wales, have no contact with minors other than with specific family members, and report any digital devices to the police.

Earlier this year, at the defendants’ first appearance in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, prosecutor Edward Franklin stated that some of the images discovered during the investigation were “extreme” examples of Category A. Following welfare concerns, Met officers discovered Watkinson’s body at an address in Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire.

Commander Jon Savell previously said: “Chief Inspector Watkinson was facing extremely serious and concerning charges, as the result of a painstaking and thorough police investigation.

“Before this matter came to light, we had no previous information about these allegations or to indicate the officer posed any risk to the public. He had not faced any other criminal or conduct matters during his Met career. He had been suspended from duty since his arrest.

“Two other men were also arrested during the course of the investigation and have been charged, their matters will now progress through the courts.”

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