A prolific paedophile who paid to watch the exploitation and abuse of children has been jailed.

Leslie Fletcher appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday (November 20) where he was put behind bars for almost six years after previously admitting a string of sexual offences.

The 76-year-old became the subject of a complex investigation after Google and Microsoft flagged the sharing of indecent images on their platforms.

Specialist officers from Northumbria Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) arrested Fletcher and seized his devices, which were then searched by a team of digital investigators.

When forensic examination of his devices was completed, officers had a range of evidence which documented a pattern of dangerous offending between June 2020 and July 2021.

There were incriminating conversations in which Fletcher requested photographs and videos of babies and children no older than 11 years old, as well as receipts and records of calls with people abusing their children.

The Northern Echo: Leslie FletcherLeslie Fletcher (Image: NORTHUMBRIA POLICE)

Fletcher, of Brancepeth Close in Washington, was later charged and previously pleaded guilty to a total of 13 charges, including three counts of making indecent images of children, four counts of arranging the commission of a child sex offences and four counts of attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity.

Seven of the offences related to Fletcher arranging the abuse of children abroad.

A judge sentenced him to a total of five years and nine months custodial and issued a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and forfeiture of his electronic devices.

Fletcher must also sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Rob Smoult from POLIT said: “Our work to protect children from predators like Fletcher is a top priority for the Force and our efforts continue around the clock.

“We will do all we can to work with partners from platforms and providers as well as law enforcement across the world to ensure that paedophiles such as Fletcher are caught and brought to justice.

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“I am pleased with the sentence given today as it shows that offending like this will not be tolerated and that people like Fletcher are not welcome in our communities. The fact that he entered guilty pleas for all offences is a testament to the hard work of all of the staff and officers involved in the investigation. Fletcher knew he had no excuse and was left with no choice but to admit his guilt.

“I hope the community can see how determined we are to prevent offences like these from happening, and how passionate and fiercely we will pursue offenders when they do happen.

“Harming children in this way is never acceptable and if you have been a victim, would like to report an incident or speak with an officer about someone you think may have offended, please get in touch.”