Disgraced university lecturer avoids jail after sending child abuse images to student
A disgraced senior Coventry University lecturer who sent indecent images of children to a student he was in a fetishist relationship with has avoided jail.
But Martyn Lee, who was principal lecturer in the Communication Culture and Media department at the university at the time of his arrest last year, was ordered to take part in a sex offender’s programme.
Lee, 54, of Eves Green Lane, Meriden, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to four charges of distributing indecent images of children.
He also admitted two charges of making 124 indecent images of children by downloading them onto his MacBook computer.
With him in the dock was Sophie Nightingale, a student in the Performing Arts department at Coventry University at the time, who pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent photos of children which were found on her laptop computer.
Nightingale, 23, of Bath Lane, Hixon, near Stafford, also admitted possessing an image of extreme pornography, said to show ‘in an explicit way’ an act which threatened a person’s life.
They were both given three-year community sentences and ordered to register as sex offenders for five years – and Lee was ordered to take part in a three-year sex offenders’ programme.
Prosecutor Delroy Henry said matters came to light in January last year when Nightingale told the police that she was in a relationship with a convicted child sex offender.
She also disclosed that she had been sent indecent images of children by her university lecturer, which prompted the police to arrest Lee.
Nightingale explained that she was concerned because the lecturer had been making references to activity with his 12-year-old niece Alice – who in fact does not exist.
Following his arrest Lee acknowledged he had been a member of an adult fetish website for three to four weeks and had been talking online to Nightingale who was on the same site.
“They communicated with each-other and agreed to a submissive/dominant relationship where he would provide her with sexual training… including ‘baby girl training,’ which was a fantasy of hers.
“She visited his home address where they performed fantasy role-play, and she would perform menial tasks at his request and engage in consensual sexual activity.”
Mr Henry said Lee became aware Nightingale was a student at the university after they had begun talking online.
He told her he had images of girls from a teen modelling website and, as part of their role-play, invented a fictitious niece called Alice and sent her images he said were of Alice.
When she was interviewed Nightingale, who said her fetish was being in a submissive role, said that the last time she had visited Lee she had seen images of a sexual nature of a little girl on his MacBook.
She said he had sent her 15 indecent images of children, some of which she had deleted although she had responded in a sexual way and, although she did not, told him she liked them.
But chat messages showed she had asked him what sort of porn he liked and persuaded him to admit he liked child abuse images, telling him: “Oh sir, as long as you’re not harming people who are not consenting.”
Nightingale, who accepted she had instigated many of the conversations because she was lonely, explained that she had gone to the police because she believed Alice, who Lee said he had got to perform a sex act on him, was a real girl.
Marcus Harry, for Lee, said: “He is a man of previous good character, a man of exemplary character who had for 26 years worked as a lecturer at Coventry University.
“In 2008 the defendant’s relationship with his wife broke down, but they remained residing in the matrimonial home, but no longer as husband and wife.
‘‘He spent the majority of his time in his own room, and he spent more and more time in that room, and more and more time on his computer.
“He joined the website, and it’s there he met Sophie Nightingale. It was not just her he was communicating with in such an unsavoury fashion.
“In relation to the images he distributed to her, he had received them from one of the other individuals. They were sent to him, and he forwarded them on, but did not keep them.”
Mr Harry said there were ‘a relatively low number of images,’ and of those found, all were of the lowest level of seriousness, although he had sent three movies in the most serious category.
“It is accepted by Miss Nightingale that she instigated the vast majority of the chat and the distribution of the images.
“He is a man who for a short period became embroiled in a world of fantasy which was entirely out of character. When on a number of occasions Mr Lee tried to end the relationship, she begged him not to.”
Mr Harry said that Lee’s career was in tatters, he has no income and is dependent on his wife, and rarely leaves his home.
Paul Hiatt, for Nightingale, said she had made ‘full and frank admissions’ to the police, and observed:
“To her credit she reported this to a course director at the university and then went to the police of her own accord.
“She is disgusted by her actions, but at the time she was lonely and vulnerable. She used her position as submissive to attract the attention of a male.”
Sentencing Lee and Nightingale, Recorder Stephen Linehan QC told them: “The court has no role to play in the private consenting sexual conduct of adults.
“But where their sexual conduct affects the welfare of others, it is no longer a private matter. It becomes a matter of public concern.
“Those people who gain sexual gratification by using images of children placed in positions of a sexual nature or being sexually assaulted are directly responsible for the offences of which those children are the victims.”
After ordering Lee to take part in the sex offenders’ programme, he told Nightingale: “There are no community sex offender programmes for women, so I can’t make a similar order on you.”
Coventry University lecturer & female student admits child abuse images offences