A deputy headteacher from Yorkshire has pleaded guilty to the production of more than 11,500 images and videos depicting child abuse after an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Gareth Mellor, 43, who now resides in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, was also responsible for safeguarding at the high school where he was employed in Wakefield.
NCA investigators were able to locate Mellor after he made a Bitcoin payment for explicit images of children via an encrypted cloud storage service.
Further examination by the NCA revealed that Mellor’s email address had been used to create accounts on other websites in an attempt to obtain material featuring child abuse.
In May 2021, Mellor was apprehended at his residence, and several of his electronic devices were seized. His phone contained applications for cryptocurrency as well as files associated with the storage platform.
The NCA downloaded the contents of Mellor’s two cloud storage accounts and a forensic analysis revealed over 11,500 indecent images and videos of children falling under categories A-C (with A representing the most severe).
The images, which were not captured by Mellor, primarily depicted teenage girls.
Subsequently, investigators were able to demonstrate that Mellor had accessed one of his accounts after being released on bail in an attempt to delete the evidence.
Mellor pleaded guilty to three offences related to the creation of indecent images of children at Leeds Crown Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 7 December 2023 at the same court.
Data provided by the cloud storage service indicated that another individual had accessed one of Mellor’s accounts. This person has been identified and is currently under separate investigation.
Danielle Pownall, NCA Operations Manager, said: “Gareth Mellor worked with children nearly every day and was entrusted to protect them.
“This investigation showed that he deeply betrayed this trust through amassing a huge collection of material showing the horrific abuse of children.
“Despite his attempts to conceal his activities by using cryptocurrency and encrypted storage services, this investigation was able to identify him as a committed buyer and consumer of child abuse material.
“The NCA is committed to tackling this criminality in all its forms, breaking the chain of supply and demand and protecting children from the most harmful offenders.”
Following his arrest, the school where Mellor was employed terminated his contract. It is important to note that none of the offences committed by Mellor were related to the school’s students.