By James Simons-
A senior Met Police officer who was being investigated over child abuse images has been found dead before he could be charged with sexual abuse offences.
The body of Ch Insp Richard Watkinson,(pictured) who was suspended from duty, was found at home in Buckinghamshire last Thursday.
The officer was being investigated for conspiracy to distribute indecent images of children, voyeurism and misconduct in public office.
Watkinson is believed to have killed himself while under “huge mental strain” over the case.
He is said to have feared he was about to be publicly named in connection with the alleged conspiracy to distribute indecent images of children
Further toxicology tests are being carried out to establish his cause of death. The coroner has been informed and an inquest will take place in due course.
Watkinson, who had potential access to schools, reportedly had a secret room in his Buckinghamshire home, hidden behind a trap door, where he kept the pants, sex toys and horrific images of child abuse.
Met officers and the police watchdog IOPC launched a joint investigation into Watkinson, and found the room in a July 2021 raid. The abuse images were Category A and B, meaning the abuse captured was of the worst levels. There was no evidence that he had personally abused any child.
He was arrested on July 9 , 2021 on suspicion of misconduct, sending obscene messages, corrupt exercise of police powers and data protection breaches
Mr Watkinson was at the time serving with the West Area command unit when he was arrested.
Due to “significant developments in the investigation”, the case was then passed on to specialist officers at the Met Police.
“Following a conduct referral from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), IOPC investigators arrested a Metropolitan Police Service officer on 9 July, 2021,” an IOPC spokesman said.
“We decided it was in the public interest for the matter to be investigated by specialist officers from the force with the necessary skills required in this area,” he added.
The senior officer was arrested again on 20 July on suspicion of several offences.
A Met Police spokeswoman said: “A serving officer was arrested on 9 July 2021 by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the matter passed back to be investigated by specialist officers from the Met.
“The officer was further arrested on 20 July 2022 on suspicion of offences including conspiracy to distribute indecent images of children, voyeurism and misconduct in public office.
“The officer was bailed pending further inquiries and suspended from duty.”
Last week, Met Police officers attended Mr Watkinson’s Buckinghamshire home in what is usually an area covered by Thames Valley Police.
The Met spokeswoman continued: “Met officers attended an address in Buckinghamshire on the afternoon of Thursday, 12 January following welfare concerns and found the body of man in his 40s.
“While Thames Valley Police are dealing with this matter, we can confirm the man was a serving Met officer, based at the West Area Command Unit