Coronavirus: Detective spared jail due to virus circumstances
A detective who tried to groom four women who were victims of crime has avoided jail because of restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stuart Lunt of Lancashire Police admitted misconduct in a public office in February at Liverpool Crown Court.
The 36-year-old, of Greaves Close, Wigan was sentenced to 18 months in jail suspended for two years.
Judge David Aubrey said Lunt would have been jailed but for the exceptional circumstances currently experienced.
He told the officer: "You have taken advantage of vulnerable women and exploited each and every one of them."
The judge said Lunt's actions were "akin to grooming" and the officer had "betrayed the badge you were wearing and taken advantage of those most in need."
The married father-of-two gained the victims' trust because of his role in the police force.
He used this to his advantage as he attempted to engage in sexual relations with them and did so with one of his victims, Liverpool Crown Court was told.
Laura Nash, defending, asked the judge to consider "exceptional circumstances" in suspending a custodial sentence in what she said were "exceptional times".
She explained that Lunt's wife, who is a designated key worker at a pre-school nursery, would need childcare for their two children if he was sent to jail.
Immediate members of the Lunt family would be unable to offer help following the lockdown because they were in the vulnerable category range, the court was told.
Sentencing Lunt, Judge Aubrey said: "In the particular circumstances of this case, and at a time of deep concern, in the judgment of the court the balance weighs just in favour of suspending the custodial sentence."
Det Ch Insp Jane Webb said: "I would like to thank and commend the victims in this case for having the bravery to come forward and report these allegations to us. Today's outcome would not have been possible without them.
Lunt has tendered his resignation from Lancashire Constabulary but will be subject to misconduct proceedings.