Two West Midlands Police officers jailed for sexual misconduct with vulnerable women
Steven Walters and Anthony Ritchie worked as constables for West Midlands Police when they engaged in sexual activity with women they met while on duty
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Two disgraced police officers who engaged in sexual activity with women they met on duty have been jailed for a total of six-and-a-half years.
Walters got one vulnerable victim of domestic abuse to give him oral sex while on the radio to force control - because it "gave him a kick". A court heard Ritchie had sex with a grieving widow while wearing his police uniform and then asked her to lie to his bosses about the relationship.
The officers also both engaged in sexual activity with the same victim - firstly, Walters in October 2013 when he visited the woman’s home. Ritchie later began an inappropriate relationship with the woman, sent her explicit messages from his phone and had sex with her after he arrested her partner.
The pair denied misconduct in public office but were found guilty by a jury sitting at Birmingham Crown Court in July. Today (Thursday, September 21) Ritchie, of Tile Cross, Birmingham, was sentenced to four years in prison while Walters, of Swadlincote, Derbyshire, was jailed for two-and-a-half years. It is the second time Walters has been sent to prison for targeting vulnerable victims while he was serving with the force.
Sentencing, Judge Roderick Henderson described the victims as "brave women who came forward and stood up for themselves and their community". He told Walters: "These were sexual assaults made significantly more serious because you were a police officer on duty at the time. You undoubtedly exploited your position and expected to get away with it."
He told Ritchie: "You used them while they were in a vulnerable position. You had been subjected to disciplinary proceedings for very similar behaviour but you began these two relationships. You knew you were in the wrong but you persisted."
What was Birmingham Crown Court told about the crimes of Steven Walters and Anthony Ritchie?
The court heard Walters had abused his position to get two victims of crime to give him oral sex after he was sent to domestic incident alerts at their homes. In July 2013 the predator cop had gone to a property with a female colleague following a report that a woman had been attacked by her boyfriend.
The female officer dealt with the suspect while Walters took the victim into a bathroom. He complimented her tattoos and said "I bet it is something nice lower" before he unzipped his trousers and had the woman perform oral sex on him. The victim described Walters acting like a ‘predator’ and claimed he was ‘taking the p*ss’ out of her vulnerability.
In a second incident in October of the same year he attended another vulnerable woman’s home, this time alone. He also made comments about her tattoos and while he was on the phone to his control sitting on a sofa, he exposed himself and pushed the victim’s head down.
The victim said Walters appeared to get a kick out of talking to his colleagues over his radio "completely normally" while the sex act was taking place. He returned to the address the following day and asked the victim if she was OK but she did not let him in.
Steven Walters had been sentenced for sexual assault previously
Walters had previously been sentenced to four years in 2016 after admitting sexually assaulting two women in the space of two months the previous year. While on duty he gave one young female a lift home in the early hours and groped her leg during the journey. He attended the second victim’s home because her child had run away and while there had pushed himself against her, kissed her and put his hand down her underwear.
The court heard in July 2014 Ritchie had been given management advice about abusing his authority after asking a vulnerable woman out on a date. He vowed not to repeat it but by then had already met another vulnerable woman and he then began an illicit relationship with her.
He had attended her home in June 2014 to arrest her ex-partner but later returned holding a jar of coffee and invited himself in. After making comments about her appearance, he followed her into the kitchen and kissed her. They had sex multiple times, he sent her highly sexualised messages and Ritchie even met her stepmother. She fell pregnant and Ritchie had turned up in a police van and asked her if the baby was his.
The officer had also met another woman, a widow, in June 2014, after attending her house to arrest her son. They went to a pub and ended up having a sexual relationship. While the relationship was being investigated Ritchie had told her to lie to his superior officer and say she had met him by chance. The court was told Ritchie looked for women on Tinder where he described himself as a police officer.
‘The defendants’ conduct had a profound and lasting impact on each victim’s mental health and relationships’ - prosecution
Cathryn Orchard, prosecuting, said "It is clear from the victim personal statements that the defendants’ conduct has had a profound and lasting impact on each victim’s mental health and relationships. They have been left with a lasting and deep mistrust of the police. Each of the defendants exploited their positions for their own sexual gratification."
One woman, who had been the victim of both men, referring to Walters, said: "Immediately after the incident I felt grubby and physically sick. It was terrifying and I felt incredibly exposed. I had just come out of a long-term relationship. He has not shown a shred of remorse.
“I have attempted suicide a couple of times. I cannot trust police officers any more because of what he did. I do not understand why he did what he did. He has absolutely ruined my life." And referring to Ritchie she said "He did not want a proper relationship. he did not care about me at all. He only wanted me for sex."
Elizabeth Power, defending Ritchie, said he was remorseful and added: "He has lost everything. He has lost his reputation; his employment and he has brought shame on the police force and his family."