Two West Midlands Police officers guilty of misconduct in public office
Two West Midlands Police officers have been found guilty of misconduct in public office after engaging in sexual activity with women they met on duty
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Two "predatory" West Midlands Police officers who engaged in sexual activity with women they met on duty are facing jail after being found guilty of misconduct in public office.
Steven Walters, 55, got one vulnerable victim of domestic crime to give him oral sex while on the radio to force control because it "gave him a kick". His colleague Anthony Ritchie, 46, then had sex with a grieving widow while wearing his police uniform and then asked her to lie to superiors about the relationship.
A court heard the WMP officers both engaged in sexual activity with the same victim - Walters in October 2013 when he visited the woman’s home. Ritchie later began an inappropriate relationship with the same woman following his initial visit to her address in June 2014. He also sent messages from his personal phone and they had sex after he arrested her partner, who was then remanded in custody.
The pair denied misconduct in public office relating to three women but were today (Mon)found guilty by a jury sitting at Birmingham Crown Court. They will be sentenced on September 21.
Cathryn Orchard, prosecuting, had told the court how Walters first struck in October 2013 when he attended the home of a vulnerable woman while he was on duty. Miss Orchard said: "Whilst there he made comments about her tattoos. He kissed her and then had her perform oral sex upon him.
"In relation to Ritchie he attended the same victim’s home address while on duty on June 5, 2014 due to a domestic incident. Following that incident, he instigated an inappropriate sexual relationship sufficient to constitute gross misconduct."
In police interview the woman said Walters had come to her home in Kingstanding, Birmingham, because of problems she was having with an ex-boyfriend. She claimed after kissing her neck they were later sat on the sofa when he unzipped his trousers and "made me do stuff to him."
Miss Orchard said: "He got her to perform oral sex on him whilst he was on the radio getting a log number." She said the victim got the impression that "he must have got a kick out of that." She later began a sexual relationship with Ritchie having sex on at least five occasions. The court heard Ritchie also sent sexualised text messages to her including one which said "I could finish early if you promise to suck my c**k."
Miss Orchard said Walters went to the home of another alleged victim in Erdington, Birmingham, on July 14, 2013 after a report of a domestic incident. She said that while they were in a bathroom the woman had given him oral sex which had lasted between two to three minutes. She later described him as "a bit like a predator trying to take the p*ss out of my vulnerability."
Miss Orchard said Ritchie had attended the home of the third victim on June 23, 2014 in order to arrest her son but he was not there. She said the officer later phoned the woman to say that her son had handed himself in and afterwards begged her to let him come and see her.
They then began a sexual relationship four weeks later and her son subsequently made a complaint about it to West Midlands Police. Miss Orchard said: "He would come round to the house while on duty and try to have sex with her while on duty. On one occasion he did."
The court heard the woman ended the relationship when she found a text revealing he was having a relationship with another woman. She also said she later found his Tinder page on which he said he was a police officer and which made him appear ‘predatory’.
Miss Orchard said an investigation began after other officers had gone to the home of the alleged first victim on April 17,2018 in relation to a separate matter. Ritchie was previously been given "management advice" in relation to his contact with another woman, who had been the victim of an armed robbery, after obtaining her mobile phone number and texting her.
Walters was previously convicted of two sexual assaults when while on duty he had touched a woman’s bare leg in a police car after offering her a lift home. He also went to another woman’s home, after she had reported her son had run away, and kissed and then sexually assaulted her.
Rosemary Ainslie, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said after the case: “This was predatory behaviour from two police officers who abused their position of trust while on duty serving the public. Both Walters and Ritchie took advantage of vulnerable women after visiting them for police purposes.
“I want to commend the bravery of the women in this case for coming forward and providing the evidence to enable us to secure these convictions.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it carried out four separate investigations and found the pair ‘abused their authority for sexual gain’. IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “Abuse of power for sexual gain is a breach of the public’s trust, which seriously undermines confidence in the police service and discredits the profession.
"The actions of PC Ritchie and ex-PC Walters were quite rightly described as predatory during the trial and an aggravating feature is that they consistently targeted women who were in vulnerable situations and looking to the police for help.
“Both officers have behaved disgracefully and in PC Ritchie’s case our investigations established that while he was having a relationship with two women at the same time after meeting them through work, he was also going through a disciplinary procedure for inappropriate text messages sent to another woman he met while on duty.”