Rape accused Northumbria Pc 'victim of rumours'

Image caption, Mr Mitchell denies all the charges

A police officer accused of raping and sexually abusing vulnerable women has claimed he was a victim of rumours.

Northumbria Pc Stephen Mitchell, 43, of Glasgow, denies five counts of rape, six of indecent assault and 15 of misconduct in public office.

He told a court his accusers shared details of their allegations against him with each other.

The prosecution claims he promised "favours" for women in custody - and then demanded sexual favours in return.

One of the 16 complainants claimed Mitchell's three-and-a-half year hold over her only ended when she fled after he handcuffed and raped her at her flat.

'Small-knit community'

Mr Mitchell told Newcastle Crown Court the claimant came forward to police as a means of "self-preservation", the nature of which he could not divulge in open court.

He added: "From that moment onwards I suggest there has been a whole host of rumours going around which have been spread by (that complainant).

"She's telling certain people for a particular reason, and it's a very small-knit community in Newcastle city centre's criminal fraternity.

"I think it has been demonstrated that people have been talking about this on a number of occasions."

Mr Mitchell said that explained why some aspects of some of the women's complaints against him were similar.

"I know these people are not always truthful," he said.

"But you are?" asked Paul Sloan QC in cross-examination for the prosecution.

"Yes," replied the defendant. "These people will grab any opportunity they can."

The trial, which is in its fourth week, continues.

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