Published: 17:00, 16 July 2014
| Updated: 17:08, 16 July 2014
A police officer has been cleared of using his position to pursue three women he came into contact with for a sexual relationship - after two trials.
Stephen Hughes was also acquitted of a charge accusing him of failing to investigate a woman’s complaint of a serious sexual offence.
The 32-year-old married PC was in December last year cleared of three charges of misconduct in public office involving three other women and two relating to misuse of the police computer.
The jury could not reach verdicts on other charges and a retrial was ordered.
Hughes, of Fairfax Close, Folkestone, denied and was acquitted today of four charges of misconduct in public office and one of perverting the course of justice.
The prosecution offered no further evidence on a separate charge relating to misuse of the police computer and it was left on the court file by Judge Philip Statman, despite a submission by Hughes’ lawyer that there should be a not guilty verdict.
Maidstone Crown Court heard he became a PC in January 2008 after a period as a community officer and served with the neighbourhood section based in Folkestone.
The prosecution said Hughes texted one woman after investigating a domestic incident telling her he found her attractive and wanted to spend an evening in bed with her.
He contacted another woman after investigating a burglary at her home, telling her she was “a sexy lady”. She discovered he was married with children.
After the unanimous verdicts by the jury of eight women and four men Judge Statman criticised the “policing” in the case and the investigation that followed.
“It seems to me over the months I have been told about things have not got better,” he said. “Errors and difficulties in the past have been compounded.
“It gives me anxious concern about this management procedure and local procedure I have been told about.”
The judge said he was deeply troubled about the manner in which Hughes and other officers dealt with a woman’s complaint about a sex attack.
“I am not going to say any more,” he added. “No doubt there will be pause for reflection in the organisation.”
Ian Henderson, defending, said Hughes was still a serving police officer, although suspended. Leaving the outstanding charge on file left him in “an uncomfortable position”, he said.
Mr Henderson applied for £800 costs for travel by Hughes. Judge Statman said he would have to consider the situation and asked if he could take into account that Hughes may have brought the matter on himself.
The judge told jurors: “This has not been easy to understand, both legally and factually.”
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