January 2012

Ex-Chelmsford mayor David Lee fails in indecent images of children appeal

A former mayor of Chelmsford has failed to clear his name in the High Court over possessing child pornography.

David Lee, 48, of Rushleydale, Springfield, was cautioned in 2008 after indecent images of children were found on computer equipment at his home.

Mr Lee said the caution was unlawful as he had not had a written explanation of its consequences.

But High Court judges earlier ruled he was “well aware” of its implications.

The court heard four films depicting child sex abuse were found on computer equipment seized during a raid at Mr Lee’s home in November 2007, after the Essex Police received information from Chelmsford Borough Council.

The High Court was told Mr Lee, who was elected to serve as mayor of Chelmsford between 2007 and 2008, said he was unaware of the images.

But admitted his guilt at Braintree police station in August 2008, after being told he would be given a caution if he did so.

He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for two years.

Mr Lee resigned his position at the council following the discovery of the images.

In court documents, Mr Lee’s barrister, Leslie Thomas, argued Mr Lee should have been given a list of the consequences of accepting the caution in writing before signing it.

This was set down in guidelines in a Home Office circular issued in June 2008, Mr Thomas said.

Matthew Holdcroft, acting for Essex Police, said although officers admitted they were unaware of the circular, Mr Lee suffered no prejudice as a result.

Officers did explain the consequences of accepting the caution, Mr Holdcroft said.

Lord Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Maddison dismissed the case at the High Court, saying Mr Lee was “well aware” of the implications of accepting the formal caution.

Mr Justice Maddison said: “The outcome, in my judgment, was that Mr Lee was well aware – before he signed the caution – of the implications of signing it, and that in signing it he did so with informed consent.”

Mr Lee was ordered to pay £2,500 towards Essex Police’s legal costs of the hearing.