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Posted on Monday 20 November 2023
Joseph Lee

A predator who arranged to meet an underage teen for sex has now been sentenced – after a joint North East police investigation.

Joseph Lee, 46, is now behind bars after he travelled to Framwellgate Moor to meet a 15-year-old girl he arranged to have sex with online.

However, what he didn’t know was that officers from the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) and Durham Constabulary would be waiting to arrest him instead.

NEROCU detectives worked alongside officers from Durham Constabulary’s Online Child Abuse Investigator Team, to carry out their operation on April 26 last year, and thanks to their partnership working Lee is now no longer a danger to children.

When interviewed Lee, of Drum Lane, Chester-le-Street, offered no explanation of why he did what he did and offered no guilty plea.

However, due to the extensive evidence file compiled by officers, a Jury found Lee guilty of Arranging/Facilitating the Commission of a Child Sex Offence earlier this year on October 27 at Durham Crown Court.

Today (Monday), he appeared at the same court and was sentenced to four years imprisonment, a ten year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will be placed on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely.

Speaking after the sentencing, NEROCU Detective Inspector Leonard, said: “This is another great example of police partners working together to protect children from predators like Lee.

“This type of work will not stop here and under the banner of Operation Sentinel we will continue to work with our partners to tackle online child abuse and sexual exploitation and would urge anyone who has been a victim of this type of offending, or has concerns about someone’s behaviour, to come forward and talk to police.”

If you have concerns about child abuse or want to report a crime, then you can contact your local police force via their website or by calling 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

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