Two retired Metropolitan Police officers have confessed a three-year child sex abuse images plot with a serving Met chief inspector, who was found dead before he was charged.
Jack Addis, 63 and Jeremy Laxton, 62, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday to a charge of conspiring with Richard Watkinson, 49, to distribute or show indecent images of children.
The pictures, which were found on a computer hard drive, included 2,516 of the worst category of child sexual abuse images.
Laxton also pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of a child and possession of cannabis and was released on bail pending sentencing in June.
Watkinson, who was a serving Met chief inspector for neighbourhood policing at the West Area Command Unit, was found dead in Buckinghamshire on January 12. His death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.
Jack Addis (right), 63 and Jeremy Laxton (left), 62, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday to a charge of conspiring with Richard Watkinson, 49, to distribute or show indecent images of children
Met officers found Watkinson’s body having attended an address in Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, following welfare concerns
According to the charge, 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, which were found on a computer hard drive, included 2,516 in Category A – the worst kind – alongside 1,032 in Category B and 1,701 in Category C.
Laxton, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, also pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of a child, possession of a prohibited image, possessing an extreme pornographic image and possession of cannabis on or before 20 September 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 which were ‘grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an extreme character’ depicting a person having sex with an animal, according to the indictment.
He further admitted a charge of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of the offence of misconduct in a public office between December 1, 2019 and May 1, 2021.
The court heard Laxton, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark grey suit, has previously pleaded guilty to similar offences at Lincoln Crown Court, while Addis, from Perthshire, is a serving prisoner in Scotland.
He appeared in court by video-link from HMP Dumfries where he is serving an 18-month sentence for three counts of voyeurism and possessing indecent photographs of a child.
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 residence at his home address, to surrender his passport and not to apply for documents to travel outside of England and Wales, that he has no contact with children apart from named family members, and to inform police of any digital devices.
At the defendants’ first appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this year, prosecutor Edward Franklin said some of the images discovered in the investigation were at the ‘highest end’ of Category A.
Met Commander Jon Savell said: ‘The content that these men had been viewing has been described by seasoned specialist investigators as some of the most serious that they had ever seen.
‘We must never forget that in each video or picture is a real child victim who has suffered unimaginable abuse.
‘The effects of child sexual abuse are often traumatic and life-long, and Laxton and Addis both sought sexual gratification from that suffering.
‘As a police service we strive to protect the most vulnerable members of society, especially children, and I know officers who served with them will feel utterly betrayed by their disgusting actions.
‘We are sickened that they are former colleagues.’
Met officers found Watkinson’s body having attended an address in Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, following welfare concerns.
Watkinson had been suspended from duty following his arrest in July 2021 and was that day due to answer bail to be charged with the conspiracy, as well as three counts of making indecent photos of a child, voyeurism and two counts of misconduct in public office.
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.’
His death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious and an inquest has opened and adjourned.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: ‘Conspiring to share indecent images of children is an abhorrent crime that facilitates abuse and has the potential to harm the victims pictured with every share.
‘It is even more shocking when perpetrated by former members of the police, who of all people would have been aware of the devastating impact that sharing child abuse material can have on the victims.’