Murderer guilty for second time will die in jail

A YORKSHIRE killer who was described by a judge as a "dangerous and evil man" will spend the rest of his life in jail after he was convicted of murder for the second time in 20 years.

Sentencing Desmond Lee at Leeds Crown Court for the murder last year of a gay lover whose body he dumped on the moors near Huddersfield, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said she was making a "whole life order" because of the exceptional seriousness of his case.

"That is exactly what it means, life in your case should mean life."

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Lee, who is only 39, was detained for the first time as a teenager in 1990 for the murder of a vulnerable 46-year-old woman, Shirley Carr, whom he smothered the previous year in Bradford. He spent 14 years behind bars before being released on life licence on September 20, 2004.

Less than five years after his release he killed Christopher Pratt, a 51-year-old civil servant from Grantham, whom he had met a few months earlier in gay sauna in Dewsbury.

Mr Pratt was recorded on closed circuit TV arriving at Lee's flat in Sackville Street, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, on August 15 last year . He never left it alive.

Lee was unanimously found guilty by a jury of murdering Mr Pratt after the seven men and five women rejected his claim he accidentally killed the older man during sex, fracturing his larynx and hyoid bone as he leaned across him to get some drugs.

Mrs Justice Davies said: "When you killed Christopher Pratt you told the court you did so under the influence of alcohol and drugs. You killed Shirley Carr when under the influence of alcohol, so you well knew the effect it had on you.

"Having committed this terrible crime you disposed of the body of Christopher Pratt. It was a carefully planned and executed operation, his naked body was left on a bleak moorland where it remained for several days.

"On the day of his death and the days which immediately followed you used his debit and credit cards for personal gain, your behaviour demonstrated a complete and callous absence of remorse."

She commended the police and prosecution team involved in the case and expressed her condolences to Mr Pratt's family and partner, saying he was clearly a much loved member of his family.

The jury heard within hours of Mr Pratt's death Lee used his debit card to pay his Virgin Media phone bill and the following day. before he dumped the body on Scammonden Moor, he spent 200 online on food, drink and other household items online on his credit card.

Later that week he also tried to order 1,200 worth of furniture, bedding and electrical equipment on his cards while repeatedly denied knowing anything about his disappearance.

The body of Lee's first victim, Shirley Carr, was found at her home in Henry Street, Bradford in November 1989.

He claimed then his mind was a blur after she taunted him about the breakdown of his relationship with another man but told the jury at his latest trial he remembered putting his hand over her mouth and nose smothering her.

Det. Chief Insp Mark Ridley said he was pleased at the whole life sentence which would protect the community from Lee and provide some satisfaction for Mr Pratt's family.

'Trusting' man was betrayed say family

The family of civil servant Christopher Pratt, Desmond Lee's latest victim, described him as a trusting man who was betrayed by someone he considered a friend.

"He was an extremely private, compassionate and caring person who just got mixed up with the wrong man.

"He was so trusting that he would go out of his way to help anyone. However, in assisting someone who he thought was a friend in need, he received the ultimate betrayal."

Mr Pratt's mother and other members of his family were at Leeds Crown Court when his murderer was jailed and the judge paid tribute to them and to his son and daughter for their dignity during the trial.

In a statement after the case they said it had been difficult in court listening to Lee's lies and insinuations about Christopher, who was previously married and who never smoked or took drugs.

"Christopher was law abiding, hard working and very popular among his friends," they said.