Police have promised to take a zero tolerance approach to misconduct by their officers after a constable was jailed for having sex with a vulnerable crime victim.
PC Christopher Wilson, aged 44 of Saltash, was jailed for 10 months at Exeter Crown Court for misconduct in public office.
He is currently suspended and is likely to be sacked within days by Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer.
The court heard that PC Wilson began “chatting up” the woman on December 2 2018 while he was working at Launceston Police Station. He had been taking a formal statement of complaint from her about an assault by her partner.
When she pointed out that they were in a police station, he replied “that’s the naughty side of it that makes it more exciting”.
He went with her to the disabled toilet after colleagues were called out on another inquiry and they were left alone. He stripped off his uniform and police kit and pushed her down so she could give him oral sex.
The woman was partially drunk and distressed at the time and he asked her not to tell anyone about what happened, saying he would lose his job if she did.
He took her to a Travelodge in Saltash as a place of safety and told her she could contact him through a dating website.
He carried on sending her suggestive messages for three months after the initial encounter, Exeter Crown Court was told.
She was left very distressed by the experience but only made an official complaint after disclosing what had happened to other women in a domestic violence support group.
Wilson admitted misconduct in public office, and was suspended pending dismissal by the Devon and Cornwall police after pleading guilty to the offence in November.
It ended a career in which he was commended for his work during a riot in London, for saving the life of a distressed woman and for a rescue on Dartmoor.
Judge Timothy Rose told him: “The prospect of this sexual encounter led you to stray comprehensively from your duty and your responsibilities towards her. You had already made sexualised comments and it is plain what was on your mind.
“The simple fact is that you wanted it to happen. This was all about your personal sexual gratification. There was a power imbalance. She was a victim of domestic violence and you were an officer in uniform, at your place of work and in a position of authority.
“Prison sentences are required in such cases so police officers are deterred from such behaviour and the public can have confidence that such criminal transgressions will be punished appropriately.”
Miss Susannah Stevens, defending, said Wilson committed the offence at a time when his marriage had broken up and he was under personal stress.
He made a momentary decision which he now accepts it was wrong. He wants to apologise to the woman, the police service, and his family.
The investigation ended a police career in which he had been commended for his good work in London and the West Country. He is now £40,000 in debt as a result of his divorce and losing his job.
After the case, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Steve Parker said Wilson’s case was a rare example of an officer failing to meet the force’s high standards.
He said:”A police officer has a privileged role in being responsible for the safeguarding of vulnerable people. The actions of PC Wilson were wholly inappropriate and illegal – he will now face the consequences of that.
“All police officers are expected to abide by the Code of Ethics and ensure the highest standards of ethical behaviour, this has evidently not been the case on this occasion.
“I have no doubt this instance will have a significant impact on the lives and families of both PC Wilson and the complainant in this case.
“I would reassure our communities that the vast majority of police officers will always do their utmost to protect the communities they serve.
“We must treat the most vulnerable in our communities with compassion and care, but that must be within the boundaries of ethical behaviour.
“Devon & Cornwall Police will continue to learn from instances like this and will always take the appropriate action when standards fall below that expected of all of our officers and staff.”
By Edward Davenport