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Harrogate man jailed for possessing 2.2 million images of children and concealing prohibited firearms

Geoffrey Crossland, some of the firearms and an aerial photo of Crossland’s property – bunker complex under garages on right – front

A man from Harrogate has been jailed for 12 years and eight months years after more than 2.2 million indecent images of children and prohibited firearms and ammunition were uncovered by North Yorkshire Police with support from the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Geoffrey George Crossland, aged 70, of Padside Green Farm, Padside, was sentenced at York Crown Court today (Monday 11 March 2019). He was also issued with a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

He pleaded guilty to making 2,204,992 indecent photographs and videos of children between 1 January 2011 and 22 October 2018.

These included:

  • 28,686 images and 5,826 videos of the most extreme category A
  • 46,271 images and 3,008 videos in category B
  • 2,095,528 images and 12,302 videos in category C
  • 12,281 images and 201 videos containing prohibited images of children
  • 814 images and 30 videos containing extreme pornography

Crossland also admitted 11 charges relating to the possession of prohibited firearms, shot guns and rifles without licences, and ammunition offences, including:

  • a Hi Standard pistol
  • a .22 calibre revolver which used a self-contained gas cartridge system
  • two .22 calibre Weihrauch revolvers which use a self-contained gas cartridge system
  • a FN .22 automatic pistol which had a barrel less than 30 centimetres in length and which was less than 60 centimetres in length overall
  • a Miroku double barrelled shotgun
  • a Jager Armi/Moda P74 rifle
  • a smooth bore ornamental pistol
  • a .38 Brocock bolt action rifle which uses a self-contained gas cartridge system
  • a quantity of bullets designed to be used with a pistol and incorporating a missile designed or adapted to expand on impact
  • Bullets in quantities in excess of those authorised by a firearms certificate in force at the time

Background to the investigation

The investigation stemmed from a CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection command, operated by the NCA) intelligence package relating to sharing indecent images of children online and linked to Crossland’s computer IP address.

This was gathered in mid-2018 and was passed to North Yorkshire Police to develop into an investigation.

After further suspicious online activity was identified, North Yorkshire Police executed a search warrant at Crossland’s home address on 19 October 2018.

The officers discovered a significant underground bunker complex on the premises which was formed out of old shipping containers.

It quickly became apparent that it would turn into a large-scale investigation which would require the seizure and examination of more than 100 digital devices and firearms-related items, as well as extensive building and ground searches which continued until 8 November 2018.

Crossland was due to fly back home from a shooting holiday in Argentina while the search warrant was ongoing.

He was arrested at Heathrow Airport and transferred into the custody of North Yorkshire Police for questioning.

He was charged with a range of offences and appeared at York Magistrates’ Court on 24 October 2018.

Crossland pleaded guilty and was remanded into custody ahead of sentencing. The list of charges grew significantly in the intervening period as the investigation unearthed additional offences.

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Wright of North Yorkshire Police, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “This is without doubt the largest ever seizure of indecent images of children in the history of North Yorkshire Police. The investigation as a whole has been on a scale never seen before in our area regarding this type of offending.

“More than 100 digital devices were seized from an office area above the underground bunker complex on Crossland’s premises.

“Each device had to undergo painstaking examination by North Yorkshire Police’s Digital Forensic Unit supported by a team of specialist officers from the National Crime Agency.

“There was also the recovery of the prohibited firearms and ammunition. We knew that Crossland had, legitimately, been an active member of shooting clubs over the years and he had acquired a large collection of firearms-related items and ammunition which he stored in the bunker.

“Nevertheless, everything had to be seized and carefully assessed to determine what was and what wasn’t legally held.”

Marc Horsfall, of the National Crime Agency, said: “A team of specially trained NCA officers spent several months working through Crossland’s horrific catalogue of abuse images to grade them in order of severity.

“Crossland and men like him are fuelling the actual contact abuse of children and the sickening distribution of those images. The NCA works with partners at home and abroad to catch child sex offenders and bring them to justice.”

His Honour Judge Andrew Stubbs QC commended DCI Graeme Wright and Detective Constables Nicky Wareham and Zoe Warboys for their work on the investigation.

Appeal for potential victims to come forward

DCI Wright said: “We have ongoing enquiries to establish if Geoffrey Crossland was involved in the direct abuse of children.

“I want to take this opportunity to appeal for people to come forward with any information about his behaviour, whether that was many years ago or more recently.

“Please remember it is never too late to report information to the police, as well as seek the professional help and support that is readily available to victims. Nobody should suffer in silence.”

How to seek help

Any victim of sexual abuse regarding this investigation is urged to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if you would prefer to remain anonymous.

Please quote reference number 12180189353 when providing details about this case.

Always dial 999 if you are in immediate danger or your safety is threatened.

Victims can also seek independent and confidential advice, support and services from Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Please call 0330 223 0362 (9am-5pm), 0330 223 0099 for the 24 hour free phone number, email [email protected] or go to the website www.bridgehousesarc.org/.

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