Pervert vicar Richard Lee avoids jail after spying on teenage girls
A pervert vicar who spied on females in his parish escaped
Reverend Richard Lee, 49, used secret cameras to record his
unsuspecting victims and kept the footage on a laptop.
Married father-of-two Lee, who was vicar of two churches in
Somerset at the time, was rumbled when the images were
He was arrested and was today given eight months in prison after
previously pleading guilty to eight charges of voyeurism and 18 of
making indecent images.
But at Bristol Crown Court Judge Neil Ford QC suspended the
sentence for two years because of Lee's previous ''good
He said: "I have agonised about my public duty in this case and
have come to this conclusion - that while sentences of imprisonment
must be imposed they can be suspended.
"I am able to do this because of all I know about you and your
positive good character.
"It is right to say that nothing I can do by way of punishment
will come close to the dreadful loss that you have brought upon
"You have lost your family and your calling as a clergyman."
Lee carried out the offences over a 10-year period between 2002
and 2012 while working at two Somerset village churches - St
Augustine's in Locking and St Mary's in Hutton and All
Saints church in Hempstead.
Last year officers arrived at the Church of England vicar's home
near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and conducted a search of the
A number of computers and hard drives were seized containing 400
category one images, 84 category one videos - the lowest level of
the scale used to measure their severity.
But Lee also had 51 category two images, three category three
images and four images and one video in category four - the second
The images, the majority of which were deleted, featured a woman
and three girls aged under 16 - none of the images were believed to
have been shared. Some of the images date back to when he was
working in Gillingham.
"He appears in front of this court a truly broken man. Hee has, through his own folly and more importantly his own criminality, lost everything he held most dear" – Robin Shellard, defending
Lee was arrested at
his parent's house in Bodmin, Cornwall, where he immediately
admitted the charges during interview.
Richard Posner, prosecuting told the court: "He filmed them at a
time when they believed, thought and trusted they had privacy.
"He filmed a number of images all for his own sexual
gratification and also searched for images of child abuse and made
copies of these images. He was a pillar of the community."
Robin Shellard, defending, said that Lee blamed himself daily
for his actions.
He said: "He appears in front of this court a truly broken man.
Hee has, through his own folly and more importantly his own
criminality, lost everything he held most dear through that
particular weakness that revealed itself some 10 years ago.
"He has, and does, lay no blame on anybody but himself and he
punishes himself every day. His sense of betrayal is replete."
He added that a number of parishioners had written letters in
support the former vicar.
"Those who wrote those letters struggle to reconcile the man who
tried to do so much good with somebody who has behaved with such
degree of wickedness," he said.
"His sense of betrayal extent to his friends, family and all
those he has ministered to and who look up to him and now feel so
Lee remained emotionless throughout the sentencing where Judge
Ford ordered him to attend the Thames Valley Sexual Offenders
He was also told to sign the Sexual Offenders Register for 10
years and was disqualified from working with children
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