Hoax hell for Katrice family

Richard Lee with a photograph of his daughter Katrice. Picture by LOUISE HUTCHINSON. D22445
Richard Lee with a photograph of his daughter Katrice. Picture by LOUISE HUTCHINSON. D22445

THE dad of missing Hartlepool toddler Katrice Lee has been dealt a further blow after a hoaxer targeted his family and claimed to be the missing girl.

Hartlepool man Richard Lee, 63, says this is fresh heartache for his family after they endured “a catalogue of errors” since the investigation into Katrice’s disappearance from a Naafi store in a British Army base in Paderborn, Germany on November 28, 1981.

Katrice’s mother, Sharon, and sister Natasha have received a series of messages from a woman claiming to be Katrice in the last nine months.

But the Royal Military Police (RMP) looked into the suggestions and carried out a DNA test on a woman to see if she was Katrice, who would have been 33, before ruling out any connection.

The family then started to receive upsetting messages and another police investigation began.

Richard, who was serving as a sergeant major with the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars at the time of Katrice’s disappearance, on her second birthday, said: “I was very upset when I heard about all this.

“I think my family has been through enough anguish and pain. I’m a parent, at the end of the day, and when somebody has a dig at my family then it’s obviously very upsetting.”

Sharon, who is divorced from retired postman Richard, and now lives in Gosport, Hampshire, said: “I found one message very upsetting. She told me it was my fault.

“She said she had kids and she’d never lost one of those.”

The Hartlepool Mail reported last week that the family had welcomed RMP chiefs’ admission of failings in the original investigation, following a march on Downing Street and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright securing a Parliamentary debate on the handling of the case, but insisted more needs to be done to help ease their agony.

l A 33-year-old woman from the South Durham area has been charged with harassment in connection with the alleged abuse sent via social media to the Lee family and has been bailed to appear at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on January 2, 2013.