Paedophile detective admits making child sex images after cops' undercover sting

23 November 2021, 18:12

Greater Manchester Police headquarters
Greater Manchester Police headquarters. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A detective has admitted making indecent images of children after his colleagues caught him in an undercover sting.

Lee Cunliffe, 40, logged into an online chat room and started a conversation with someone he thought was the mother of an eight-year-old child.

In fact, the person he was speaking to in September 2020 was an undercover police officer.

Cunliffe, a detective constable in Greater Manchester Police (GMP), exchanged messages with the officer in which he tried to convince the "mother" and her child to meet him in London.

He also sent what GMP described as "inappropriate, detailed messages".

Read more: Met detective charged with multiple child sex offences

The conversations were passed to the force and Cunliffe was arrested the same day in October 2020, and suspended from duty.

When officers searched his home, they found devices that showed Cunliffe sent messages from his workplace in Swinton and his house.

Police found indecent images and videos on devices.

GMP's investigation also looked at a case he had been put in charge of previously.

It centred on a report of the distribution of sexual images, which digital forensics confirmed were on devices that had been seized.

However, Cunliffe, who was overseeing that investigation, closed the case and said there was "nothing on either device".

Cunliffe, from Bolton, admitted one count of attempting to arrange/facilitate the commission of a child sex offence, three counts of making an indecent photograph/pseudo-photograph of a child, one count of distributing an indecent photograph/pseudo-photograph of a child, one count of misconduct in a public office and one count of perverting the course of public justice.

He admitted the charges at Liverpool Crown Court. Three other charges will lie on file.

GMP's Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods said: "Lee Cunliffe's actions are inexcusable and have undermined the very essence of policing's core value of protecting the public and helping those in need.

"I want to be clear that he does not reflect the vast majority of our officers who come to work each day and conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism and commitment to serving the people of Greater Manchester.

"Quite frankly, we will not stand for this behaviour and we are prepared to take robust action whenever any offending comes to light - whether that be by proactively identifying it ourselves or responding to reports made to us.

"I would encourage our officers, staff and the public to report any actions which breach our professional standards."