A vicar arrested for secretly filming intimate pictures of a woman and three young girls has walked free from court.
Reverend Richard Lee, 49, admitted eight counts of voyeurism and 18 counts of making indecent images over a ten-year period, in Weston-super-Mare.
Lee was arrested in July last year, when he was caught using secret cameras to spy on his victims after the pictures were spotted on his laptop.
He also used the Internet to search for images of child abuse.
Police found 400 category one images on a number of computers and hard drives, fifty one category two images, three category three and four images and one category four movie.
Here is the severity of each category.
Level one: Images of erotic posing, with no sexual activity;
Level two: Non-penetrative sexual activities between children, or solo masturbation by a child;
Level three: Non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children;
Level four: Penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults;
Level five: Sadism or involving the penetration of, or by, an animal.
Outlining the case, prosecutor Richard Posner said:
“For ten years, Richard Lee has been watching young girls. This was at a time when they believed, thought and trusted they had privacy.
“This was all for his sexual gratification. He breached the trust… and undermined the faith his community had in him.
“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.”
Crown Court Judge Neil Ford, QC, sentenced Lee to an eight-month jail term suspended for two years because of Lee’s previous “good character”, saying:
“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 yourself.
“You have lost your family and your calling as a clergyman.”
Although Lee walked free, he was told to sign the Sexual Offenders Register for ten years and was disqualified from working with children indefinitely.