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Officer ‘exploited vulnerable young woman for sexual gratification’, court told

A police officer stripped off his uniform and raped the alleged victim of an attempted burglary in her home, a court has heard.

Sergeant David Stansbury abused his position of trust as a serving police officer to “exploit a vulnerable young woman for his own sexual gratification”, the prosecution told Bristol Crown Court.

The prosecution said Stansbury had been called out to the scene and took the woman’s statement after a suspect had tried to smash her door in.

She had called 999 and Stansbury was among the officers who responded.

Despite having no ongoing role in investigating the incident, Stansbury returned to the woman’s home and raped her during similar assaults on different days, the jury was told.

Stansbury, 43, of Ilminster, Somerset, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape between October 23 and November 30 2009. He was an officer with Devon and Cornwall Police between 2009 and 2011.

The alleged rape victim thinks the first assault was within days of her original 999 call when she was drunk and had drugs in her home.

She thought he was checking to see if she was all right. Stansbury was in uniform, placed his police radio on the mantlepiece and started to undress.

In her police interview, which was played in court, the woman told officers that she asked Stansbury what he was doing as he started to undress but was told “you have no say in that” and raped her.

The woman told investigating officers that she had told Stansbury “I don’t want to do that” during one of the alleged rapes.

He spotted that she had drugs in the house, told her that she should not be doing that and told her “I’m the law” before he raped her, she claimed.

The woman described herself as feeling “just frozen” afterwards and told officers in her police interview: “He got himself dressed. I remember he looked right in the mirror. He was making sure he was all right. He did not give a shit about me.

“Then he said ‘Oh, I will see you again’ and he left, slammed the door and was gone.”

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The woman told the officers she felt “helpless” and “ashamed” because her lifestyle of class A drugs and alcohol meant that no one would believe her claims of rape against an officer.

“A policeman has come in to my house. It is completely illegal and who am I going to tell?

“I felt horrible and sick and ashamed of myself.

“I felt that if I had not been doing cocaine, I could have told somebody. I felt helpless. I had no defence in that I was doing class A drugs with my kids in the property. Who is going to help me?

The allegations against Stansbury only came to light when the woman was in the back of a police van after being arrested at a disturbance in 2020, and told the officers she had been assaulted.

In an outcry that was caught on bodyworn cameras, she told those arresting officers that Stansbury was supposed to help me but he “came back and back and back” and raped her.

The officers said her claims would be taken seriously and woman did not go to the police earlier because she was afraid that as a drug and alcohol user that her family would be taken away.

In her interview about the alleged rape, she told officers that she had not forgotten the incident and had told only a couple of people about it.

Edward Parker was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court (Ben Birchall/PA)
The case is taking place at Bristol Crown Court (Ben Birchall/PA)

Being that close to a police uniform, complete with its sound and textures, made her panic.

She added: “I do not think I did anything to deserve what was happening to me. I had done nothing wrong. The fear – it brought it back – the sounds, the smell and everything, it made me want to scream.”

Prosecutor Virginia Cornwall told the jury the arrest has “rewakened” the trauma of the alleged rape.

In opening the case, Ms Cornwall said: “This defendant, a serving police officer made a choice to exploit a vulnerable young woman for his own sexual gratification.

“He abused, the Crown says, his position of trust as a police officer having attended the home of the woman in response to a 999 call.

“He made a choice to exercise over her the power and control that his role as a uniformed officer gave him, in effect. He returned to her home and raped her after he went to help her as a serving officer in response to that call.”

The woman was “terrified”, “upset and vulnerable” when she first called the police for help, according to Ms Cornwall who said Stansbury’s actions afterwards showed “confidence and arrogance of returning on subsequent occasions, confident that she would not report it.”

She added: “He never thought for one moment his behaviour would see the light of day.”

He now serves with Hertfordshire Police but is currently suspended from duty.

The hearing was adjourned to Wednesday at 10am.