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Ex-police officer handed community order after stalking and assaulting colleague

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Alexander Walsh groped the woman on a night out and held her for more than an hour in a patrol car.

A former police officer unleashed a “barrage” of sexual propositions on a colleague while she was “held” in a patrol car for over an hour in the dark.

Alexander Walsh was also seen by fellow officers groping the woman on a work night out last year before taking her phone without her knowledge, adding his number and sending a stream of suggestive texts, a court heard.

He badgered her to send “risque” Snapchat messages of herself, but she refused.

While on duty he also took pictures of her without her consent.

The Brighton-based constable, who transferred to Sussex Police in July 2017 after joining the Metropolitan Police in 2014, was handed a community order at Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday after admitting stalking and common assault.

The 33-year-old, dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and yellow striped tie, was emotionless during the hearing.

Barry McElduff, prosecuting, said the ordeal was a “harrowing” experience for the victim, who initially did not realise she had been touched “clearly without permission”.

In a second incident, Walsh drove her to a secluded area under the cliff near Brighton Marina in the middle of the night to proposition her for sex.

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Feeling too vulnerable to escape and not knowing where she was, she pretended to fall asleep in the hope Walsh would leave her alone, Mr McElduff said.

Describing Walsh as “creepy” and “slimy”, she said: “He pressured me for an hour in the complete darkness knowing I didn’t know where I was.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court, she added: “I was held in that car for an hour with somebody I barely knew. There was a constant barrage of sexual suggestions. I was frightened and had no idea what he intended to do.”

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He “just laughed” when she asked him to stop taking pictures and she was made to feel like “his prey”.

She was “shocked and mortified”, initially berating herself for what happened, but in time realised his crimes were not her fault, adding: “I avoid social situations now even in the company of my closest friends, I’m anxious and don’t feel safe.”

A female inspector and a group of other officers were present at the time she was groped and Walsh’s behaviour was “common knowledge”, but no action was immediately taken against him, the court heard.

The allegations only came to light when the victim later raised concerns with a superior officer. Walsh was questioned and suspended.

Sarah Elliott QC, defending, said his behaviour was “foolish”. He thought he was just being “flirtatious” but this was a “misinterpretation” of the situation.

She added: “He did not understand his behaviour was unwelcome.”

When interviewed, Walsh said he was drunk and did not remember touching the woman but “wanted to have a fling with her, thinking it was reciprocated”. He said the pictures were taken as a joke.

Ms Elliott added: “In short, he completely misjudged the situation” but now felt “ashamed that he got it so wrong”.

Walsh, of St Michael’s Place, Brighton, was due to stand trial after denying a charge of sexual assault. But the prosecution later accepted a plea on the alternative assault charge.

The court heard how his wife, who he married a month ago, supported him throughout the case and he now works in sales. He has been drinking more alcohol since the incident and was diagnosed with depression earlier this year.

Judge Roger Hetherington, sentencing, handed him a 12-month community order and told him to complete 15 days of rehabilitation, 100 hours of unpaid work and also pay £800 in court costs.

He said Walsh showed little awareness or empathy towards the victim, adding: “You arrogantly thought you could do what you wanted.”

At a gross misconduct hearing last month Walsh was dismissed from the force without notice in his absence.

A force spokesman said an investigation was launched as soon as the allegations were reported, adding: “The inspector did not see and was not immediately made aware of this off-duty incident and the two officers who did witness it mistakenly believed it to be consensual.”

The force called on all officers to “know the boundaries and stick to them” and report colleagues who do not, adding: “It is reassuring that the officer who was the focus of Walsh’s unwanted attention felt empowered to report his behaviour and he has rightly been dealt with.”

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