A former Haverhill publican convicted of sexually abusing two schoolgirls more than 30 years ago has been jailed.
Sentencing Peter Lee to nine years imprisonment, Judge David Goodin told him yesterday (Wednesday, Oct 16): “This sort of offending infects and damages the life of those who encounter it.”
Lee, 75, who formerly ran the Woolpack in Queen Street, had denied 18 separate offences but was earlier this month found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court.
He had been due to be sentenced at the conclusion of his trial but was taken to hospital after passing out.
The court heard that Lee suffered from high blood pressure for which he was now receiving medication.
Lee, now of Lords Lane, Heacham, near King’s Lynn, had been accused by two girls of repeatedly touching them over and inside their underwear while making them touch him indecently.
The younger of the two girls told the court: “Peter Lee physically and sexually abused me and I can’t let him be a pillar of society any longer.”
She claimed that on one occasion she was certain that Lee was trying to rape her but stopped when he heard someone else approaching.
The girls claimed that the abuse took place at locations in Haverhill and ended when they were in their mid teens.
Prosecutor Charles Myatt described Lee as a ”Jeckyll and Hyde” character.
Mr Myatt said: “He had a public front as the life and soul of any situation, everyone got on with him, but behind the scenes he was a physical and sexual bully.”
Both women said that at the time they had been too frightened of Lee to disclose what had taken place although one did later receive counselling.
After getting in touch with each other and discussing their experiences with Lee the women said they had finally decided to go to the police which resulted in his arrest in January.
Giving evidence at his trial, Lee, denied all the allegations against him and said he was unable to understand why the girls had made them.
He said: “None of it is true.”
Mitigating, Isobel Ascherson said that although Lee had a number of previous convictions, including a six month term in prison for fraud, none had been of a sexual nature.
It took a jury of eight men and four women less than four hours to convict Lee of 12 offences of indecent assault on a girl aged under 16 and six offences of gross indecency with a girl aged under 16.
Judge Goodin told Lee that what he did was “monstrous” and he had used his dominant personality to prevent either of the girls revealing at the time what had taken place.
Judge Goodin said the impact on the two victims had been considerable and added: “You robbed them of the innocence of their childhood.”
In addition to being jailed, Lee was ordered to sign on the sexual offences register indefinitely and has been banned from being alone with any female aged under 16.