Former Newark police officer Lee Bowditch sentenced at Leicester Crown Court
A former Newark police officer, who pleaded guilty to making indecent images of children, has been sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years.
Lee Bowditch, 49, appeared at Leicester Crown Court on Tuesday, having earlier admitted two counts of making indecent images of children and two counts of attempting to engage a child in sexual communication.
He was also given a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.
Mr John Hallissey, defending, said Bowditch suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mr Hallissey said: “It was a cry for help. It appears this was an attempt of self-destruction.
“He was referred by the police to psychologists after concerns were raised about his mental health.”
Judge Martin Hurst said Bowditch had an unblemished record in his 30 years’ service but he also had an internet addiction, which he didn’t disclose until later.
Judge Hurst said: “I am told you were on the front line. You were the go-to guy involving difficult situations.
“Addictions are addictions and other people take to drink, drugs or gambling.”
Bowditch was arrested in April 2018 after contacting a 14-year-old girl via a dating site and sending her an indecent image and sexual messages.
He was later charged with two more offences and admitted downloading indecent images of children in the “most serious category.”
Bowditch was immediately suspended from his job after his arrest, and retired in October.
A hearing found him guilty of gross misconduct and ruled that had he still been serving, he would have been dismissed.
Chief constable Craig Guild-ford said: “He did this whilst still serving as a police officer and rather than safeguarding the vulnerable and seeking to stop such activity wherever it may present, a quest all our officers would want to undertake with all their energies, he participated in this repulsive criminal endeavour.
“I pay tribute to the skills and professionalism of our officers who identified this individual, pursued the evidence and brought him to justice.
“This exceptionally rare case demonstrates that nobody is above the law and that we have an unstinting resolve to bring those who abuse, or gain gratification, from the abuse of children to justice.”
An NSPCC spokesman said: “Bowditch has shown he is clearly a danger to children, and his sickening offences are a betrayal of his former role as a police officer and the trust placed in him by the public.
“His job would have taught him that there is a vulnerable child behind every indecent photograph, but by accessing this material he has helped to fuel an evil industry.
“This case serves as a reminder of the dangers young people face on the internet and the importance of parents talking to their children about their online lives.”
Anyone with concerns about the welfare of a child, call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 8005000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.