English policeman Nicholas Stone cleared of rape, facing jail for misconduct

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Devon and Cornwall Police car — Nicholas Stone was serving with the force at the time.

A court in England yesterday cleared a serving police officer of rape. However, Police Constable (PC) Nicholas Stone was told by the trial judge he faces jail for having sex with the woman — for which he has been found guilty of misconduct in a public office.

Stone was being tried for events from 1999 to 2001, when he worked for Devon and Cornwall Police. He met the woman involved following an arrest of a relative of hers. The prosecution had alleged he had sex with her on duty, and that this represented misconduct. He faced three misconduct charges, but was cleared of the other two by a jury at Exeter Crown Court.

The community can find confidence in the fact that police do police themselves

—Avon and Somerset Police

The prosecution case continued that the woman ended the relationship after discovering Stone was married. It was claimed he raped her in 2001 and that this resulted in a pregnancy that she miscarried. Stone had rejected every one of these claims; he accepted he had sex with the woman but not that it was ever on-duty or non-consensual. His wife supported him as he was prosecuted.

Edward Burgess, defending, had suggested to the jury anger at Stone's lack of support for the woman following the miscarriage motivated the woman to lie about being raped. He told the jury their feelings about Stone's unfaithfulness towards his wife should not influence their decisions. Judge Graham Cottle had given similar instructions as he sent them out to begin deliberations on Thursday: "What is required of you is a dispassionate assessment of the evidence."

Stone's present employers are Avon and Somerset Police, who have suspended him since last June. Cottle has commented that the woman was "extremely vulnerable" and in having sex with her Stone, of Taunton, took advantage of his job and could expect a prison sentence. Avon and Somerset Police commented after conviction that "[t]he community can find confidence in the fact that police do police themselves."