Two retired officers guilty of indecent images offences
Two retired Met officers have been convicted of offences relating to indecent images of children following a complex Specialist Crime investigation.
Jeremy Laxton, 63 (21.03.60), of Lincolnshire, and Jack Addis, 63 (05.11.59), formerly of Perthshire but now of HMP Dumfries - appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 9 February and at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, 9 March.
They appeared again today, Thursday, 25 May, at Southwark Crown Court.
Laxton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent photos of a child, possession of prohibited images of a child, possession of extreme pornographic images, and intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence of misconduct in a public office.
Addis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children.
Sentencing will be held on a date to be confirmed.
Commander Jon Savell, head of Professionalism in the Met, 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.”
This followed a lengthy and complex investigation by Met Specialist Crime officers in liaison with Police Scotland and Lincolnshire Police.
Laxton was arrested in September 2021 and Addis in November 2021. They were later released on bail.
Their homes were searched extensively and a wealth of computer equipment was seized for specialist examination.
Officers discovered thousands of pornographic images and videos of children, of which 2,516 were graded as Category A, depicting the most serious levels of violence and sexual abuse. A further 1,032 Category B and 1,701 Category C images/videos, and six extreme pornographic images, some involving bestiality, were also found.
Laxton was also found to have in his own collection over 6,000 Category A, 4,039 Category B and 3,597 Category C images/videos, seven prohibited images and 56 extreme pornographic images.
The images and videos had been shared via hard drives that they would post among each other and hide in concealed spaces in their homes.
The offences had taken place between 1 January 2018 and 20 September 2021.
As part of the same investigation, charges had also been authorised against a then-serving officer attached to the West Area Command Unit, Chief Inspector Richard Watkinson, who was aged 49. He was due to answer bail on Thursday, 12 January to be charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent photos of a child, voyeurism and two counts of misconduct in public office. He had been suspended since his arrest.
However he was found deceased at his home in Buckinghamshire that same day. This matter is led by Thames Valley Police, who are treating the death as unexplained but not suspicious, and are preparing a file for the Coroner. We will provide every assistance while that process is ongoing.
Commander Savell said: “We recognise and share the deep disappointment and concern today’s developments will cause to many people.
“The Commissioner has set out how the Met will achieve its mission for More Trust, Less Crime and High Standards over the next two years through the Turnaround Plan. A draft plan has been published and, following further consultation, will be finalised soon. The plan is clear on the need for us to get the basics right to better serve Londoners.”
Anyone with any information about a police officer or member of staff who works for the Met and is corrupt, abusing their position and power, can call the Anti-Corruption and Abuse Hotline, run by the independent charity Crimestoppers, on 0800 085 0000 or complete the online form at www.crimestoppers-org.uk.