Missing Katrice Lee: Woman in court admits impersonating Hartlepool toddler online
A woman has admitted impersonating missing toddler Katrice Lee online causing ‘real distress’ to Katrice’s family.
Heidi Robinson, 40, pleaded guilty to a malicious communications offence at Wirral Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, October 9.
She admitted posing as Katrice who vanished on her second birthday in 1981 near a British military base in Germany where her Hartlepool father Richie Lee was stationed.
Robinson pleaded guilty to using a public communications network to send a message that was grossly offensive, indecent or menacing on November 3 last year.
It is believed Robinson sent a Facebook friend request and messages to Katrice’s sister Natasha using Katrice’s name and picture.
The case was adjourned until Wednesday, October 30, for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, which District Judge Nicholas Sanders said should include information on the defendant's mental health.
The judge said: "Clearly at the time you were not very well but, on the other hand, what you have now admitted to also caused some very real distress to people in this matter."
Robinson, of East Way in Moreton, The Wirrall, was given unconditional bail.
He said at the time: “Can you imagine your sister has been missing for 37 years and you see a friend request on Facebook, you open it and you see a picture of your sister asking to be your friend?”
It is not the first time Katrice’s family has been the target of such hurtful messages.
In 2013, another woman was given a 12-week jail sentence suspended for 18 months at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court after she continued to send messages to the Search for Katrice Lee Facebook page even after a DNA test proved she was not Katrice.
Mr Lee has been critical of the Royal Military Police's initial investigation into his daughter's disappearance.
Last month, military police arrested a man in connection with her disappearance and began searching a terraced house in Swindon, Wiltshire.
The man was later released without charge.