Former mayor warned he faces jail after admitting boy grooming offence

Lee Cook has been warned he is facing jail.
Lee Cook has been warned he is facing jail.

A former mayor who tried to meet a boy for sex was warned he faces a prison sentence.

Lee Cook was caught in a sting operation by an anti-child abuse campaign group Guardians of the North. The 29-year-old appeared before Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court earlier this month.

The bench ruled their sentencing powers of six months were insufficient and sent the case to Durham Crown Court to be dealt with.

The former Peterlee mayor has now admitted attempting to meet a boy under 16 following grooming.

Penny Bottomley, defending Cook at the crown court on Friday, applied for the case to be adjourned.

"There are a number of reasons," said Ms Bottomley.

"A report will be needed to see if Mr Cook is suitable for a sex offender treatment programme.

"He suffers from epilepsy, which means he needs to be supervised for certain activities.

"Reports will be needed about his medical condition, and he would like to obtain a number of personal references to be presented to the court when he is sentenced."

At the time of his arrest, Cook, of Quantock Place, Peterlee, was a town councillor in Peterlee and mayor.

He resigned both positions after he was charged.

Judge Christopher Prince adjourned passing sentence until October 13.

The judge told Cook: "I am prepared to adjourn the case for the reports to be prepared. "While nothing is pre-determined, you should be aware that custody is the most likely outcome of this case.

"You may have bail in the meantime, but you should not take that as any indication of the sentence you will receive."

Cook, who was of previous good character, was bailed on condition he has no unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 years.

The court heard he has already registered as a sex offender. The length of his registration will be decided at sentence.