Beds, Herts & Bucks

Police officer jailed for arranging sex with runaway teen

PC Leigh Brightman Image copyright Hertfordshire Police/BBC
Image caption Leigh Brightman "knew perfectly well" of his teenage victim's vulnerabilities, the judge said

A police officer has been jailed for four years for arranging to have sex with a runaway teenage girl whose disappearance he was investigating.

Leigh Brightman, 37, of Tennyson Avenue, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, discovered the girl, who was 15, may have been working as a prostitute.

He then contacted her to discuss sexual services and arranged for a taxi to bring her to his house.

Brightman pleaded guilty to three counts of misconduct in public office.

The teenager told the Old Bailey said she was left feeling "dirty, ashamed, but partly stupid" after her interaction with Brightman in August 2014.

'Suffered psychologically'

The prosecution said it was not their case the two had sex even though they met at his house and he hid the fact he was a police officer.

He claimed he was handed an escort card, during a troubled period in his marriage, and had no idea he was contacting the missing girl.

She told the court she had "suffered psychologically" and "will always have trouble trusting people" as a result of the encounter.

The jury heard Brightman also had sex with two other women he met while on duty, one in her 20s, the other in her 40s.

The older woman said he was "flirtatious" when they met in 2012 after she reported being harassed by a former partner. They began having sex but when she grew concerned he was not investigating her complaint he begged her to keep quiet.

The younger woman met Brightman as a drug-addicted teenager and was reintroduced some years later. They began to have consensual sex, often when he was in uniform.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The case was heard at the Central Criminal Court, also known as the Old Bailey, in London

Kevin McCartney, defending, said: "There can be no doubt that if he could rewrite or undo what he has done, he would."

Judge Mark Lucraft QC said: "It's clear that when you contacted her, you knew perfectly well who she was, her age and her vulnerabilities."

A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said Brightman "betrayed the trust placed in him by targeting such vulnerable victims".

Brightman also admitted to two counts of downloading indecent images of a child between 2011 and 2014.

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