A sex shop owner faces prison after police found thousands of vile child porn images stashed in his safety deposit box.

Officers found around 21,000 images and 48 films in a deposit box belonging to Michael Geraghty, of Oaks Avenue, Worcester Park.

The 50-year-old admitted four counts of possessing indecent images and seven of making indecent images, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Geraghty was traced after hundreds of officers swooped on safety deposit centres across west London as part of a Metropolitan Police operation, codenamed Rize.

The raids, which formed the Met’s biggest ever operation, also uncovered guns, drugs and cash linked to organised crime.

Police eventually linked the box to Geraghty, after his fingerprints and those of his gay partner Andrew Sheridan, 40, were found on the items.

They included images of babies less than a year old and others depicting sexual activity with children, the most serious category.

When police searched the couple’s home they found a further 200 child porn images on their computer.

Sheridan denied the same charges and prosecutors decided not to pursue them after Geraghty told police he took full responsibility.

Crown prosecutor Peter Zinner said: “The defendant Andrew Sheridan maintained in police interview that he had handled the discs and VHS tapes in the safety deposit box, but had known nothing of what was on them.

“He was also unaware of the images on the home computer. His fingerprints were only on about three actual images recovered from the box, and throughout Michael Geraghty accepted full responsibility for all the items.

“Bearing in mind the difficulties of tracing ownership, the officer undertook an outstanding investigation, and managed to trace the ownership to the defendant Michael Geraghty through forensic examination of the exhibits.”

Sheridan denied the same offences and both men denied a further charge of possessing an indecent image of a child in relation to another tape found at their home address.

On January 22, Geraghty was bailed by Judge Christopher Hardy to return for sentencing on February 26.