Bedford man jailed for attempted online grooming of children

Barry Lees is now behind bars
Barry Lees is now behind bars

A man from Bedford has been jailed for two years after he attempted to groom children online.

Barry Lees, 61, of Conquest Road, Bedford, was sentenced to two years in jail last Thursday (February 15) after being found guilty of two charges of attempting to meet a child under 16 for sexual activity, and three charges of possession of indecent images of children.

Lees was arrested after instigating private conversations in an online chat room with who he believed were two teenage girls.

Following an examination of his computer, he was also found to be in possession of indecent images of children.

Investigating Officer Alexandra Lazarevic said: “Inciting children to engage in sexual activity online is unacceptable, as is the exploitation of children by possessing indecent images. The viewing and sharing of such images is not a victimless crime - it causes real harm to the children concerned.

“We are pleased that Lees has received a custodial sentence for his actions and hope this sends a strong message to others who seek to sexually abuse children.”

An NSPCC spokesperson added: "As well as viewing sickening images, Lees sought to meet children for sexual gratification and must receive treatment while in prison to lessen the risk he poses to young people in the future.

"Behind every image of abuse is a young victim who will need support to recover and by viewing this material Lees has helped fuel a vile trade.

"Of 400 child sexual offences recorded by Bedfordshire Police in 2016/17 twelve per cent had an online element so it’s vital that parents hold regular conversations with their children about their online lives and work with young people to help keep them safe.

"Young people concerned about online grooming and inappropriate messages can call Childline for help and support on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk for advice.”