Manchester

Former PC spared jail over 1,000 child sex images

Preston Crown Court Image copyright Geograph/Ian Taylor
Image caption Lee Kelly admitted making and possessing indecent images of children at Preston Crown Court

A former police officer found with 1,000 indecent images of children at his home has been spared jail due to his "good work" in finding paedophiles.

Lee Kelly was due to get a commendation from Greater Manchester Police for his undercover work before his home was raided in 2016.

The 50-year-old admitted making and possessing indecent images of children at Preston Crown Court.

On Friday he was given a 10-month sentence, suspended for two years.

Judge Andrew Woolman told Kelly his offences had crossed the custodial threshold but said it would be "unjust" to send him to prison immediately.

He said he would suspend the sentence because of the officer's previous "good work" during 19 years of service with the force.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said Kelly had been assigned to GMP's undercover online team from 2008 and later became a cover officer in which he had responsibility for the welfare of officers using false profiles pretending to be children or paedophiles.

The team operated from a secure building and work from home was "only rarely authorised", the court was told.

Image caption Lee Kelly had been assigned to Greater Manchester Police's undercover online team from 2008

The court heard his basis of plea was that he was not seeking sexual gratification, and although the Crown Prosecution Service "did not accept that as such", it did not seek a trial of issue to determine exactly why he downloaded the images.

Lisa Roberts QC, defending, said Kelly, who previously lived in the Burnley area, conceded he had gone about his job in a "wholly improper way" and had shown genuine remorse.

Sentencing, Judge Woolman told Kelly: "You gained, no doubt, a lot of technical knowledge as to how the dark web worked and how people exchanged images of children and the like.

"Quite wrongly and in a dreadful abuse of trust you used that knowledge for yourself.

"You have damaged yourself, you lost your job some months ago."

He concluded: "I can, just, justify the suspension of a prison sentence and I'm doing that because of course you were of good character and because of all the good work you have done for the police before you brought disgrace upon yourself.

"To destroy your life further, while it may send a message out, would be unjust to you."

Kelly will be on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

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