Pensioner jailed over one of largest hauls of indecent images found in England

A 70-year-old man who amassed one of the largest known hauls of indecent images in England and Wales has been jailed for more than 12 years.

Officers found a vast collection of more than 2.2 million indecent images on SD cards, laptops and tablets – as well as a “secret underground bunker” containing weapons and ammunition – when they searched the home of Geoffrey Crossland in North Yorkshire.

Crossland, of Padside Green Farm in Harrogate, was sentenced to 12 years and eight months at York Crown Court on Monday as judge Andrew Stubbs QC said the “scale of the depravity” the images depicted was hard for the public to understand.

“Your criminality was unearthed, almost literally, on October 18 last year, when officers searched your house for images of children,” the judge said.

“One issue which is not forgotten is that these images capture real life people, and at the same time real life sexual abuse being carried out on them.”

A court heard how the pensioner had “painstakingly categorised” the images and had written himself lists of the best websites from which to access sexual pictures and videos of children.

Prosecutors told how Crossland had demonstrated a “long-standing interest in children”, with the earliest images dating back to 1998.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the haul of images is one of the largest known in England and Wales, with North Yorkshire Police describing as the largest quantity to be seized in the county.

The material was discovered when officers scoured his home on October 18 last year, at which point they discovered what has been described as a “secret underground bunker” containing weapons and ammunition.

Included in the facility, which was installed in his property some years before it was discovered, was a shooting range and an area designed for the manufacture of ammunition.

A court heard how Crossland’s wife had answered the door when the officers arrived, while the defendant himself was on a shooting holiday in Argentina.

He was arrested at Heathrow Airport and, when brought in for interview days later, repeatedly gave “no comment” answers.

Appearing at York Crown Court on Monday, Crossland pleaded guilty to six charges of possessing prohibited firearms, two charges of possessing firearms without the relevant certificate, two counts of possessing ammunition without the relevant certificate, and one count of possessing a shotgun without the relevant certificate.

He had previously admitted three counts of making indecent images.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood explained how the vast haul of images included 34,612 in the most extreme category A, and 2,107,873 in the least extreme category C.

The court heard Crossland had worked hard to categorise the material, with some of the images and videos being listed under headings such as “animal abuse”, “peach Asian street meat” and “young Russian brother and sister”.

The judge heard how the former business manager, who ran a company that manufactured electronic components for vehicles, had an “arsenal of weapons” in the bunker, as well as around 24,000 rounds of ammunition.

Susannah Proctor, defending, explained how the defendant had an enthusiasm for weapons dating back to him being given a firearms licence back in the 1970s.

She added there was no evidence Crossland had any intention to cause harm with the weapons and ammunition.

Speaking outside court, Julian Briggs, from the CPS, said that Crossland’s collection of indecent images was “without parallel in the area”.

He added: “That alone would make this case extraordinary and troubling.

“But the subsequent discovery of prohibited firearms and ammunition, concealed in underground bunkers at Crossland’s home, clearly shows that this defendant is a highly dangerous individual.”

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Wright, of North Yorkshire Police, added that the investigation into the defendant’s potential criminality is ongoing.

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