Voyeur vicar used camera to spy on girls

Rev Richard Lee

Rev Richard Lee - Credit: Archant

RESIDENTS of two villages have reacted with shock after a vicar admitted setting up a system of secret cameras to film a woman and three children for his own ‘sexual gratification’.

Disgraced clergyman Reverend Richard Lee pleaded guilty to eight voyeurism offences and 18 charges of making indecent images of children when he appeared at North Somerset Courthouse in St Georges on Monday.

The 49-year-old, who officiated at St Augustine’s Church in Locking and St Mary’s Church in Hutton alongside his wife, Reverend Anne Lee, will now face a prison sentence when he appears at Bristol Crown Court next month.

His crimes have been met with shock and disbelief in the two villages, with one resident calling them ‘outrageous’.

On Monday the court heard that Lee set up the cameras to record photos and movies of his victims, one of whom was a woman and three of whom were girls under the age of 16.


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During the case, Andrea Edwards, prosecuting, said: “He knew they were wrong but used them for his sexual gratification.”

The offences took place between January 2000 and July 2012.

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Lee’s crimes were discovered when images were found on his laptop, and the police were alerted. When officers searched the vicarage in The Green, Locking, on July 20 they seized a number of computers and found hundreds of indecent images and dozens of movies.

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There were 400 category one images, the lowest level of severity, and 84 category one movies.

Officers also discovered 51 category two images, one category three image, two category four images and one category four movie.

When questioned by the police after his arrest the following day, Lee admitted setting up the cameras and was immediately suspended from his post by the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

At the hearing, Ms Edwards added: “There is a great abuse of trust in this case.

“During the course of the interview he admitted that the images and film were for his own sexual gratification.

“He said he had viewed them for himself and he had not shared any of the images or video.”

Judith Mills, defending, offered no mitigation for Lee.

Chair of the bench, Joy Yeates, said: “We are committing you to Bristol Crown Court for sentence for all of the charges mentioned.

“We have done this because you need a greater punishment than we are able to give.”

The Lees moved to North Somerset in 2007 from Gillingham in Kent, where they had worked together at a church.

As well as his work at the churches in Locking and Hutton, Mr Lee helped co-ordinate the Weston Worship Jam Date group based at Locking Church Hall, and was the diocese’s vocation chaplain.

Reacting to the news, Zoe Howell, of Southview Close in Hutton, said: “It’s been a shock, it’s outrageous.

“It was quite a surprise as he always seemed like a normal person.”

Margaret Rutherford, of Moor Lane, Hutton, said: “There have been a lot of rumours going round the village.

“I find it difficult to believe, because I used to like him. It really is a big shock.”

A spokesman for the diocese said: “Reverend Richard Lee appeared in North Somerset Magistrates Court this morning charged with 26 sexual offences.

“He pleaded guilty to all counts and will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on March 4. In accordance with the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, the Bishop of Bath and Wells suspended Mr Lee from active ministry as soon as he was arrested.

“We have nothing further to add while legal proceedings continue.”

Lee, who is currently living with his parents in Springwell View in Bodmin, in Cornwall, will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on March 4.

He was released on conditional bail, and must not make contact with any of his victims, not enter North Somerset other than for court hearings, have no unsupervised contact with children under 16, not attend any family church service, and must reside at the house in Bodmin.

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