By Bruce Unwin – Court reporter
A MAN who sexually abused two underage girls, raping one of them, was yesterday jailed for 11 years.
Keith Lee was described by a judge as a “predatory paedophile”, who preyed on “immature” girls.
Durham Crown Court heard that Lee only admitted the rape allegation on the day his trial was due to start, last month, causing his victims the anguish of having to prepare to be questioned and cross-examined before a jury.
The 53-year-old, from Wilkinson Road, Horden, County Durham, admitted five counts of sexual assault, one of sexual activity with a child, as well as the rape at the scheduled start of the trial on November 26.
Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said it came to light after he was caught taking part in sexual activity with one of the victims, in June.
Despite his pleas that it should not be reported to police, a complaint was made.
Mr Dodds told the court there was a suggestion that Lee gave the girls involved money, and neither wanted to take part in the activity.
Paul Cross, mitigating, said: “These were despicable offences and, nothing I can say will alter that fact.
“The defendant is aware he is facing a substantial amount of imprisionment.
“He’s a man of 53 who, before this, led a completely blameless and industrious life.
“He’s been a hard-working man and how he got himself into this situation is really difficult to pinpoint.
“He’s now not in the greatest of health.
“He’s a man finding his sexual function diminishing who took advantage of these girls.”
But having read Probation Service reports, Judge Christopher Prince said: “The fact is the man is a paedophile and he won’t accept it.”
Lee was made subject of a sexual offences prevention order, limiting contact with children and must register as a sex offender for life.