Ex-Met officers admit plot to share child sexual abuse images with senior officer

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Two retired Metropolitan police officers have admitted a three-year plot to share child sexual abuse images 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 in London on Thursday to a charge of conspiring with Richard Watkinson, 49, to distribute or show indecent images of children.

Police said the images and videos had been shared via hard drives that the men would post to each other and hide in concealed spaces in their homes.

Watkinson, a serving Met chief inspector for neighbourhood policing at the west area command unit, was found dead at his home in Buckinghamshire on 12 January.

He had been suspended from duty after his arrest in July 2021 and on 12 January was 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.

His death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious by Thames Valley police, which is preparing a report for the coroner after an inquest was opened and adjourned.

According to the charge, the three men conspired to “distribute or show indecent images of children to each other” between 1 January 2018 and 10 July 2021.

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.

He further admitted a charge of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of the offence of misconduct in a public office between 1 December 2019 and 1 May 2021.

The court heard Laxton has previously pleaded guilty to similar offences and was awaiting sentencing at Lincoln crown court, while Addis, from Perthshire, is in prison in Scotland.

Addis 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.

The judge, Tony Baumgartner, adjourned sentencing, which will be carried out by a high court judge on a date to be fixed.

Baumgartner granted Laxton conditional bail ahead of the next hearing on 23 June.

PA Media contributed to this report

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