A police officer who had oral sex with vulnerable women while on duty has been jailed for three years.
Pc Adam Rushton, branded “a disgrace to the police service” on conviction last month, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today for five counts of misconduct.
The 37-year-old, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, was also found guilty of breaching data protection laws while a Staffordshire Police officer based in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent.
During his three-week trial, Rushton conceded that some of his actions were “not very professional” but denied that it amounted to criminal conduct.
Judge Murray Creed, sentencing, said: “This case is personal tragedy for you and your family. As a police officer you were in a position of trust with the public.”
The court heard in mitigation that Rushton attempted to resign his post but was sacked by the force, with whom he served for 10 years, on Monday under a fast-tracking procedure.
Judge Creed said Rushton had come across his victims “at a stage when people were in vulnerable periods of their lives”.
He added: “There was distress caused to those victims, some of them, self-evident during their evidence”.
Judge Creed said it was concerning to hear colleagues had tried to warn Rushton over his behaviour, and that on one occasion “you did not tell the truth to senior officers seeking to help you”.
The offending spanned four years, from 2008 to 2012, and involved five women in all.
Judge Creed said the most serious incident involved a very vulnerable victim whom he visited in uniform at her home.
Rushton made up the reason for the visit, accusing her over a “bogus cyber bullying issue”, and convinced her to show him her private parts under the auspices of his fake investigation.
Judge Creed said: “Plainly that must have been humiliating, but the incident didn’t emerge until two years later when she was seen by officers in connection with another matter and referred, in passing, to that.
“As a result, this whole inquiry was commenced. It is a troubling episode as far as she is concerned.
“She was plainly vulnerable – indeed she said she did not think she would be believed because of her history.”
In relation to the other counts, Rushton met what the judge described as another “vulnerable young lady” through a police incident, befriending her and eventually entering into a relationship.
He was convicted of conducting a social visit to her home.
Another woman he met through an internet dating site and he was found guilty of receiving oral sex from her during a work-time break.
He was also convicted of going to her home, while in uniform, with the intention of having some sexual contact.
The judge said: “She believed you wanted to have sex, but in any event it didn’t take place as she found you smelled of garlic.”
There was another encounter with a fourth woman while on duty and in uniform, whereRushton received oral sex, later texting her saying “You’re ace”.
Judge Creed said: “The texts were graphic. Those details were studied and plainly, at the time, you were on duty.
He added: “There were calls to your unit, while you were engaged in the activity or shortly thereafter.”
“Prior to that there were two calls which had been ignored from control.”
He was also convicted of looking up a fifth victim’s details on the police computer system.
During the trial, Rushton was acquitted of five other counts of misconduct in a public office and a single charge of breaching the Data Protection Act.
The former neighbourhood police officer, wearing a grey suit, made no reaction as he was sentenced and seemed prepared for the possibility of custody by bringing a holdall of belongings with him.
Kevin Baumber, in mitigation, described Rushton as “a hard-working conscientious police officer, achieving results, involved in charity work, and a doting father and husband, still in the long process of rehabilitation but someone who has the support of his family”.
He added: “The impact, sadly, will fall most brutally upon his wife and his children and that is something he will have to live with and continue to make amends for.”
Afterwards, Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker, of Staffordshire Police, welcomed the sentence, saying Rushton had “brought shame” on himself and the force.
“I have apologised personally to those victims of his actions on behalf of Staffordshire Police,” he said.
“I would also like to thank those individuals who supported the investigation and gave evidence during the recent trial; their bravery should not be underestimated.
“Adam Rushton brought shame on himself, his colleagues and Staffordshire Police.
“There is simply no excuse for Rushton’s actions and we will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour in this organisation.
“The public must be able to trust their police officers, and on this occasion they were badly let down. He has been dismissed from the force.
“I want to reassure the public of Staffordshire lessons have been learned from this matter and we will take robust action against any officer or member of staff whose behaviour falls below the high standards expected.
“We are proud that the overwhelming majority of officers and staff members work hard and with integrity to serve the people of Staffordshire.”