Assistant head at Yorkshire school who was also safeguarding lead admits making thousands of images of child abuse
Gareth Mellor, 43, pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to making more than 11,500 images and videos of child abuse. Mellor, was also the safeguarding lead at Kettlethorpe High School in Wakefield, was investigated by the National Crime Agency after he made a payment in Bitcoin for indecent images of children.
Mellor, who now lives in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, was arrested at his home and NCA officers downloaded the contents of his two cloud storage accounts, and a forensic review revealed more than 11,500 indecent images and videos of children in categories A to C, with A being the most extreme.
The images, which had not been taken by Mellor, were predominantly of teenage girls. After he was arrested and bailed, Mellor attempted to access one of his accounts in an attempt to delete the evidence.
The Yorkshire school which Mellor worked for terminated his employment following his arrest, and none of the offending related to its pupils, the NCA said.
In court on Wednesday (Nov 8), Mellor pleaded guilty to three offences relating to the making of indecent images of children. He is due to be sentenced on December 7.
Tudor Griffiths, headteacher at Kettlethorpe High School, said: “Although the crimes committed by Gareth Mellor have absolutely no connection to our school community, we are appalled at the way he has betrayed the trust placed in him during his time at the school.
“The safeguarding checks and procedures we, and all schools follow, did not identify any concerns. His ability to hide in a position of responsibility is shocking and upsetting. We take some comfort in the fact that the NCA investigation found that Mellor’s crimes had no association with any pupils, past or present. However, his crimes have affected the lives of other children and young people and our thoughts are with them.”
Vicky Schofield, Wakefield Council’s corporate director for children and young people, said: “As soon as were made aware of the allegations, Gareth Mellor was immediately suspended and dismissed shortly after.
“The National Crime Agency investigation was clear that these crimes do not relate to any students past or present at Kettlethorpe High School. But they do involve other children and young people and we are grateful to the NCA for bringing Mellor to justice.”
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.”
Internet data provided by the cloud storage service showed that a second individual had access to one of Mellor’s accounts. He has been identified and is separately under investigation, the NCA added.