In a successful joint operation between the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) and Durham Constabulary, Joseph Lee, 46, has been sentenced to four years imprisonment for arranging to meet an underage teen for sexual purposes. Lee, who had arranged to meet a 15-year-old girl in Framwellgate Moor, was unaware that law enforcement officers would be waiting for him instead.
The NEROCU detectives collaborated closely with the officers from Durham Constabulary’s Online Child Abuse Investigator Team to carry out the operation on April 26 last year. Through their combined efforts, Lee has now been apprehended, ensuring the safety of children in the region.
During his interview, Lee, a resident of Drum Lane, Chester-le-Street, provided no explanation for his actions and did not plead guilty. Nevertheless, the extensive evidence compiled by the officers led to his conviction on October 27 for Arranging/Facilitating the Commission of a Child Sex Offence at Durham Crown Court.
Today, Lee appeared in court and received a four-year prison sentence, accompanied by a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order. Additionally, he will be placed on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely.
Detective Inspector Leonard, representing NEROCU, commended the collaborative efforts of the police force and expressed their commitment to protecting children from predators like Lee. He emphasised that the work to combat online child abuse and sexual exploitation will continue under Operation Sentinel, urging anyone who has been a victim or has concerns about someone’s behaviour to come forward and report it to the police.