Northern Ireland

Man who had thousands of child pornography images given probation

Edward Alexander Lee was sentenced to three years on probation at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday
Image caption Edward Alexander Lee was sentenced to three years on probation at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday

A man, who downloaded thousands of images of children being sexually abused, has been released on probation.

Edward Alexander Lee, 34, was sentenced to three years on probation at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC said it was the best way of protecting society and helping Lee to change his ways.

Lee, originally from Whitehall Square, Belfast, but now living in England, pleaded guilty to a total of 15 charges related to child pornography.

The court was told the vast majority of the images were in the lowest categories, although some were in the higher - more serious - categories.

Lee was described by his wife as a being "loving and normal young man".

'Serious matters'

Judge Kerr said that while he had viewed the images for his "own strange pleasure", they were serious matters as "children were abused for these images to be made".

He added that children would continue to be abused while people like Lee continued to view such material, and that "society would not tolerate such behaviour".

Judge Kerr said a sentence of up to a year in prison would do very little to assist Lee or the community.

Placing him on probation, he ordered him to complete a course on sexual offending to help him stop viewing such images.

Earlier, prosecutor Simon Jenkins said that when police went to Lee's then Belfast home on 5 June, 2014, he immediately confirmed he was the man they were looking for.

On computer equipment seized, police uncovered a number of folders, which Lee admitted creating.

During interview, Lee said that he had been downloading images "for perhaps the last nine years".

Defence lawyer Taylor Campbell said that Lee had admitted his guilt from the outset, pleading guilty at arraignment, and was entirely frank and co-operative with police.