Bolton police officer Lee Cunliffe admits child sex offences

A BOLTON detective has been warned that he could face jail after admitting multiple child sex offences and misconduct in a public office.

Lee Cunliffe, 40, who lives in Bolton and worked in Salford, entered guilty pleas during a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.

The detective constable admitted one count of attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence, three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child, one count of distributing an indecent photograph of a child, one count of misconduct in a public office and one count of perverting the course of public justice.
Three other charges were ordered to lie on file.

In September 2020, Cunliffe logged into an online chat room and struck up a conversation with someone he believed to be a mother with an eight-year-old child but, unbeknownst to him, was actually an undercover police officer.

Various messages were sent between the two where Cunliffe made numerous attempts to arrange to meet up with the mother and her child in London and sent inappropriate, detailed messages.

On October 2 October he was arrested and the same day an investigation was launched. He has remained suspended from duty since his arrest.
Officers searched his address and seized his devices which revealed that Cunliffe had sent the messages to the undercover officer from his workplace in Swinton and his home address.

Indecent images and videos were also found on his devices.

During the course of the inquiry, urgent reviews of his role as a detective in other investigations were carried out, including a report of distributing sexual images which had been allocated to him as the officer in the case.

In that particular case, digital forensics confirmed sexual images were present on devices that had been seized; however Cunliffe closed the crime and claimed there was “nothing on either device”.

Julian King, defending, asked for sentencing to be adjourned so a psychological report could be prepared. He said personal notes seized as part of the investigation showed the defendant’s “inner turmoil”.

The Honorary Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Andrew Menary QC adjourned sentencing until January 12 and released Cunliffe on conditional bail.

He said: “You must attend on the next occasion in the full expectation there may be a custodial sentence for these matters.”

Speaking following the plea hearing 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.”

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