Police officer couldn’t control sexual urges

Christopher Hopkins
Christopher Hopkins

A police constable was “unable to contain his urges” as he committed a string of sexual assaults while on duty, a court has heard.

Christopher Hopkins, 41, is said to have targeted his three alleged victims between 2006 and 2013 – an under-age girl, a 17-year-old girl and a work colleague at Merseyside Police.

The married father also allegedly arranged over the internet to meet a man for sexual activity when he should have been on mobile police patrol.

opening the prosecution case at Preston Crown Court, Richard Haworth told jurors: “The Crown’s case, in a nutshell, is that he was unable to contain his sexual urges and all of these alleged offences were committed to satisfy his predatory sexual nature.

“As an overall view, the audacity and impertinence of some of the sexual advances beggars belief at times. But such an approach is a common feature of his offending.”

The first complainant was aged between 13 and 15 when Hopkins visited her home address after she had been reported missing.

While alone together in the kitchen Hopkins commented she looked old for her age and effectively “gave her the once over” as he looked her up and down, said the prosecutor.

Mr Haworth said the complainant felt “intimidated” when Hopkins asked her for a kiss.

She went to give him a kiss on the cheek but the defendant turned and kissed her on the lips, the court heard.

The teenager went on to have further dealings with the complainant and arrested her on one occasion.

Mr Haworth said that while en route to the police station the defendant remarked to a fellow officer: “How long do you think it will before she is pregnant?”

The prosecutor went on: “He had possession of her mobile phone and he was looking through the content.

“He found pictures stored on her phone which depicted her wearing only her underwear and, the prosecution say, he showed them to his colleague in due course.”

On another occasion, Hopkins approached the complainant in public while in uniform and said to her: “You know what you need, don’t you? A f*** buddy.”

Hopkins, of Whickham Close, Widnes, Cheshire, denies five counts of sexual assault, one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of misconduct in a public office.

Disgraced top cop pays back £23,000

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Cleveland Police which was suing its former chief constable for £500,000 has settled out of court for less than 5% of the figure, it has emerged.

The force was trying to claw back salary and bonuses it believed Sean Price was wrongly paid across a number of years before he was sacked for gross misconduct in 2012.

The civil case was due to be heard next month but police and crime commissioner (PCC) Barry Coppinger said Mr Price’s offer of £23,000 had been accepted.

That was due to mounting legal costs during a time of budget pressures and having consideration for Mr Price’s ability to pay more.

In a document on the PCC’s website, Mr Coppinger said the case against Mr Price was based on the legal argument that the payments were originally made “by mistake of law”.

He accepted the £23,000 offer was a “modest proportion” of what had been hoped for, but it was made in good faith, with reference to his ability to pay.

Mr Price, a father of two, has allowed the force to see financial documents, the PCC said.

Mr Coppinger said: “I concluded that I faced a choice either to accept the sum which Mr Price had demonstrated he could afford or proceed to court, risking an estimated overall six-figure sum in court costs which was unlikely to be realistically recoverable.”

He said the force had already spent about £30,000 on external barristers’ fees – £7,000 more than Mr Price’s settlement.

He added that other PCCs and forces had considered similar civil claims before deciding not to proceed.

Mr Coppinger said the payments Mr Price received were investigated under the wide-ranging Operation Sacristy inquiry into alleged corruption, but did not result in criminal charges.

He said: “Although ending the claim will mean that the court will not have the opportunity to address the legal questions, taking all of the considerations in the round I have determined that it would be appropriate to conclude the matter on the basis of the payment of the sum offered.”

Mr Price said in a statement: “This was a difficult decision for me as I had a strong case that the payments were lawful and should not be repaid 10 years later.

“However, the case has cost me several thousand pounds already and the public a great deal more. The only people benefiting have been lawyers.

“I made the decision that the best course of action was to settle now to prevent the costs escalating further.

“Notwithstanding our differences, I would like to pass my best to all at Cleveland Police in dealing with the financial challenges facing the force in the future.”

Mr Price was the first chief constable in 35 years to be sacked. An inquiry found he lied about his role in the recruitment of the former police authority chairman’s daughter.

Court Due To Rule on Stop & Search

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The Court of Appeal is to rule today on a challenge over the legality of random stop-and-search powers aimed at tackling street violence.

The Metropolitan Police have been accused of breaching human rights laws by using the controversial powers against a disproportionately high number of black Londoners.

Ann Juliette Roberts, 39, of Upper Edmonton, north London, claims that the powers allowing ”searches without justification” were discriminatory on the grounds of race and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

She became involved in a row with police on September 2010 after a ticket inspector discovered there were insufficient funds on her Oyster to pay her fare after she boarded a number 149 bus.

According to the police, she lied about her details and was uncooperative and behaved in a suspicious manner.

A police officer called to the scene thought she might be concealing a knife in her bag and she was subjected to a search under section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

She was arrested after obstructing the search and handcuffed but had to be taken to the ground when she continued to resist. No weapons were found.

Mrs Roberts, who was of good character, received a caution which was later quashed.

The police had been authorised to use section 60 powers, which allow ”random” searches, in the Haringey area because of gangland violence involving the use of weapons.

Mrs Roberts, a black woman with an African-Caribbean heritage and a grown-up son, applied for a judicial review but two High Court judges ruled the police had acted lawfully and section 60 did not breach human rights.

She has now asked Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Lady Justice Rafferty and Lady Justice Macur to rule the High Court has gone wrong in law.