Charged along with now deceased local senior officer Richard Watkinson
Jeremy Lawton and Jack Addis
May 30, 2023
Two retired police officers who had been charged with possessing indecent images of children at the same time as a Chief Inspector who worked in the local area have been convicted.
Originally, 49-year-old Richard Watkinson had been due to appear in court with them but his body was found at his Buckinghamshire home on 12 January. He had been accused of 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 has been suspended from his duties with the West Area Command Unit and was due to report to a station as part of his bail conditions on the day he was found dead. An inquest has yet to be held into his death, but Thames Valley Police are not treating it as suspicious.
The West Area Basic Command Unit covers Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow and Watkinson often served as its public face, fronting up press conferences and attending public meetings and community events.
Chief Inspector Richard Watkinson
Jeremy Lawton of Lincolnshire and Jack Addis of Perthshire, both aged 63, were convicted of offences relating to indecent images of children at Southwark Crown Court on 25 May after being arrested in 2021. The offences had taken place between 1 January 2018 and 20 September 2021. The charges followed a lengthy and complex investigation by Met Specialist Crime officers in liaison with Police Scotland and Lincolnshire Police.
Officers discovered thousands of pornographic images and videos of children on their devices, 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.
Laxton had 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.
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.”
He continued, “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.”
A date has yet to be confirmed for the sentencing of the two men.
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