Former police officer jailed for two-and-a-half years
A POLICE officer who put pressure on a vulnerable woman to withdraw her complaint of rape against a third party in order to protect his career was jailed for two-and-a-half years yesterday.
Aaron John Cusack, 27, had denied carrying out a series of acts intended to pervert the course of justice but was found guilty at trial in July by a unanimous decision.
It was the prosecution case that Cusack, who lost his job as a result of his offending, persuaded the woman to drop her complaint in order to thwart an investigation of himself after she had alleged to police that he had sent an indecent image of himself to her.
‘Decent Guernsey people still have respect for the police,’ said Lt-Bailiff Russell Finch when passing sentence in the Royal Court.
‘You have abused that faith and that of your fellow officers.’
He said that the defendant’s ‘tawdry’ reason that he had not allowed investigators access to two mobile phones and a laptop computer because they contained intimate images, was the type of excuse that was usually proffered to the court by drug dealers.
It was a tragedy, said Lt-Bailiff Finch.
The defendant, who joined Guernsey Police in 2016, had once had a bright future. He was an intelligent person who had thrown it all away by this offending, in what had been his first week with CID in 2021.
The trial heard how he had examined social media contact on the woman’s phone prior to the forensic examination of it which went against police procedures. She was listed on the police computer system as requiring an appropriate adult to be present when speaking to her, yet he had gone to her home alone to question her about the rape allegation.
The 47 minutes of footage of that conversation which the defendant had recorded on his body-worn camera was described as ‘disturbing’ by Lt-Bailiff Finch.
He told the woman that she risked being in trouble if she pursued her complaint and that police would take her to court.
Cusack was also in contact with her two months before she made her complaint, but he had not declared this.
His offending came to light when the woman’s social worker raised concerns with police about things the woman had told her.
Cusack had originally denied failing to give police the access codes to his phones and computer and challenged the legality of the notice which was served compelling him to do so. When the court ruled that the notice had been served lawfully, he changed his plea.
Defending, Advocate Andrew Ayres said his client had had a strong work ethic and had worked at an airline and in the Joint Emergency Services Control Centre before becoming a police officer. He was also a licensed firearms officer and several of his colleagues had thought highly of him. He was also a community responder for St John Ambulance.
He had been signed off work since this incident. The publicity from the case would carry on for a long time and make it hard for him to get back on his feet.
His client maintained his innocence to the main charge. Counsel said it was readily conceded that there were aggravating factors in the case.
His client had been in a position of trust and the rape complainant had come from a vulnerable person.
His actions had not changed the ultimate outcome of the rape investigation. Crown Advocate Chris Dunford said that for the record, the investigation had reopened and been completed.
Lt-Bailiff Finch said this had been a highly unusual case for Guernsey, and probably unique.
‘Your previous relationship with the complainant is what makes the crux of this case,’ he said.
He commended the Police Professional Standards for the way in which they had investigated the manner which was not easy in a small force.
Cusack was jailed for 18 months for perverting the course of justice.
Sentences of 12 months, concurrent to each other but consecutive to the perverting matter, were imposed for failing to give access to the three electronic devices.