Record seizure of indecent images found in underground bunker
A man from Harrogate has been jailed for 12 years and eight months after more than 2.2 million indecent images of children and prohibited firearms and ammunition were uncovered by North Yorkshire Police.
Geoffrey George Crossland, 70, pleaded guilty to making 2,204,992 indecent photographs and videos of children between January 1, 2011 and October 22, 2018. Crossland also admitted 11 charges relating to the possession of prohibited firearms, shotguns and rifles without licences, and ammunition offences.
The investigation stemmed from a Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) 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 in 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 requiring the seizure and examination of multiple digital devices and firearms-related items, as well as extensive building and ground searches, which continued until 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 taken into custody.
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 with assistance from the National Crime Agency (NCA).
“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 NCA 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 material 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.
The seized weapons included a FN .22 automatic pistol; a Jager Armi/Moda P74 rifle; a Miroku double barrelled shotgun, a Hi Standard pistol; a smooth bore ornamental pistol and a .38 Brocock bolt action rifle. Police also seized a large quantity of ammunition in excess of those authorised by a firearms certificate in force at the time.
In addition to his prison sentence, Crossland was issued with a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the sex offenders register for ten years.