A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer who helped track down paedophiles has walked free from court after he was caught with nearly 1,000 downloaded indecent images of children at his home, it has been reported.
The officer, Lee Vincent Kelly, was due to receive a commendation from Ian Hopkins, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police. The award was to mark outstanding service including his ongoing work with undercover officers in a child sex crimes unit and his previous undercover role in successfully targeting drug dealers and gangs.
After the images were found, following a raid on his home in December 2016, the honour was withdrawn. It was revealed that he offended in his spare time and he later admitted his guilt in the first week of a trial at Preston Crown Court in November 2018.
On 11 January 2019, Judge Andrew Woolman told Kelly his offences had crossed the custodial threshold but said it would be ‘unjust’ to send him to prison immediately. Judge Woolman suspended the sentence because of his previous ‘good work’ during his 19 years of service with GMP.
Kelly, who previously lived in the Burnley area, admitted making 114 Category A indecent images of children, 127 Category B images and 756 Category C images, along with possessing 55 prohibited images of children and two extreme pornographic images between 2009 and 2016.
His 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.
Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said Kelly had been assigned to GMP’s undercover online team from 2008 and later had responsibility for the welfare of officers using false profiles pretending to be children or paedophiles.
‘You have damaged GMP’
Lisa Roberts QC, defending, said her client conceded he had gone about his job in a ‘wholly improper way’ and had shown genuine remorse and contrition.
Judge Woolman said: “Some of the children involved were very young, you do not need me to say to you that, somewhere in the world, children are being abused so that paedophiles and others can look at these images.
“You have damaged Greater Manchester Police by your actions.
“You have damaged yourself, you lost your job some months ago.”
Kelly received a 10-month jail term, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to attend rehabilitation sessions as recommended by the Probation Service and will be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
The judge prohibited the publication of the Kelly’s photograph and full address for the protection of other undercover officers and the integrity of police operations.