West Mercia Police officer barred after sexually assaulting sisters

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Leighton Phillips assaulted the girls on a train from Cardiff Central in February

A police officer who sexually assaulted two young sisters on a train while their father slept has been banned from serving, a misconduct hearing ruled.

Ex PC Leighton Phillips, 34, would have been sacked had he not already resigned, West Mercia Police said.

He was found guilty of assaulting the girls, aged 11 and 14, at a trial at Swansea Crown Court last month.

A gross misconduct hearing on Wednesday ruled Phillips would be banned from serving with any police force.

He had been with West Mercia Police for a year, based at Market Drayton police station in Shropshire, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham told the panel the girls had been standing near Phillips's seat on a packed train from Cardiff to Shrewsbury on 1 February when he began "stroking" their thighs.

'Drinking heavily'

When challenged by their father, the off-duty PC defended himself by saying he was a police officer, the chief constable said.

The misconduct hearing was told Phillips had been drinking heavily while watching a rugby match.

At trial, Phillips claimed any contact was "accidental", Chief Constable Bangham said, blaming his inebriation and swaying train.

The court sentenced Phillips to a two-year community order and ordered him to sign the sex offenders register for five years.

Had he not already resigned on 1 October, Chief Constable Bangham said he would have been dismissed.

"The conduct of PC Phillips brings discredit to the force and undermines public confidence in it," he said.

"Despite admissions to gross misconduct and his resignation, he has limited his regret to a one-line statement which reads, 'I am sorry this matter has caused embarrassment to the force and my family'.

"There is no mention of his victims."

Phillips will be placed on the College Of Policing barred list and will not be employable within the UK police service, Supt Rebecca Love, head of West Mercia Police's Professional Standards Department, said.

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