The mother of a baby girl whose photo was shared in a paedophile chatroom fears things could have been a lot worse after it came to light the man responsible had sexually abused another child.
And she has spoken of her “shock” and disbelief that he has walked free from court after being spared prison.
Andrew Lee was tracked down after a National Crime Agency investigation into another offender turned its attentions to him.
Details of his sordid bedroom activities with the girl soon emerged as well as images of child sexual abuse.
But he escaped being jailed after a judge claimed that a lengthy community order would best protect the public long-term.
Because Lee had already spent time in custody on remand, any prison sentence “would inevitably be relatively short”, a court heard.
Lee, 39, formerly of Bevers Way, Holton-le-Clay, admitted sexually assaulting a girl under 13 on three separate occasions between about 2007 and 2008.
He also admitted possessing indecent photographs of children.
Michael Greenhalgh, prosecuting, told Hull Crown Court that the matters came to light after an investigation by the National Crime Agency focused on another man.
A chat log on an internet site from February 11 last year was found to involve Lee discussing the sexual abuse of a young child.
He sent over an image, although it was not indecent, showing a very young girl he knew.
No charge followed after this incident but police saw that Lee’s address was registered with the website as Bevers Way, Holton-le-Clay, near Grimsby.
His home was searched and a laptop was found to contain indecent photographs of children.
During further investigations, a girl told police that he sexually abused her on three occasions when she visited his then home in The Close, off Littlefield Lane, Grimsby.
The incidents happened when he took her to his bedroom and he “bounced her” on the bed.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told the court that, because Lee had been in custody for four-and-a-half months, this remand time would be deducted from any prison sentence imposed, meaning that he would serve only a few months anyway.
“I have the long-term protection of the public at the forefront of my thinking,” said Judge Richardson.
“You deserve to be imprisoned for what you did. The sentence would inevitably be relatively short.
“By far the best way to proceed in the long-term interests of the public and, as a by-product, yourself, is to make you the subject of a long community order.
“If you breach this order in one minor regard, back before me you will come and you will go to prison for a long time.
“One step out of line and you will be in really serious trouble.”
Lee was given a three-year community order, with a sex offender treatment programme and 15 days’ rehabilitation.
He was given a five-year sexual harm prevention order and must register as a sex offender for five years.
Judge Richardson said that he would review Lee’s progress every three months.
After the hearing, the mother of the baby girl featured in the website chat picture said of the court sentence: “I can’t believe it. I am in shock.
“He has walked away from it. He’s a risk to the public. I don’t think any course is going to rehabilitate him.
“If he is sexually attracted to children, that’s his preference. They can’t change his way of thinking, can they?”
The woman, 31, from Grimsby, said the picture was of herself naked with her young daughter, then aged about 18 months.
She said that Lee was not charged in connection with that incident and the police concentrated on the other matters.
“The more they dug deeper, the more they found out,” she said.
“It could have been a different story.
“She was an innocent child who did not know right from wrong.”