Police officer jailed for arranging to have sex with runaway schoolgirl
A police constable who arranged to have sex with a 15-year-old runaway while investigating her disappearance has been sentenced to four years in prison.
The girl, who cannot be named, was reported missing by her mother during the summer of 2014. Leigh Brightman, 37, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, was asked to investigate the girl’s case.
When he found her, he discovered she may have been working as a prostitute. Without telling the girl he was a police officer, Brightman called and texted her to arrange for her to travel to his house by taxi so they could have sex, the Old Bailey heard.
He did not go through with his plan because he was “uncomfortable” about her age, Kevin McCartney, defending, told the court.
The judge Mark Lucraft said Brightman’s actions amounted to an abuse of trust. Sentencing him on Friday to four years in prison, Lucraft said: “It’s clear that when you contacted her, you knew perfectly well who she was, her age and her vulnerabilities.”
The victim, who sat in court with her mother, shook her head at the defendant’s account. In a statement read to the court, the girl said she had been going through the “very worst time” of her life when she met Brightman, and the incident drove her to self-harm.
“I’ve suffered psychologically, I’ve had trouble sleeping, and I’ve had horrendous flashbacks,” she said. “I felt dirty, ashamed, but partly stupid … I had no idea who he was because he had lied. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my old self, and I will always have trouble trusting people.”
Brightman pleaded guilty to three counts of misconduct in a public office on the day of his trial, and admitted two counts of downloading indecent images of a child between 2011 and 2014.
The court heard that he had sex with two other women whom he met through his police work, neither of whom can be named,.
He started a consensual relationship with a woman in her early 20s in 2009 after helping her in his role as a police officer. He paid her for sex during a relationship that continued for more than five years.
The other relationship was with a woman in her 40s, who said Brightman was “flirtatious” from their first meeting in 2012, when he was investigating her allegations of harassment by a former partner. Their sexual encounters began a week later.
When the woman grew concerned that her case was not being dealt with, Brightman begged her not to complain as he was preparing for his wedding at the time, the court heard.
McCartney said Brightman’s guilty pleas represented an acknowledgement that he had failed in his responsibilities as a police officer and as a person. “There can be no doubt that if he could rewrite or undo what he has done, he would,” he said.
Police officer arranged to have sex with missing schoolgirl
A police constable who arranged to have sex with a 15-year-old runaway schoolgirl has admitted misconduct in public office and been told he will face a jail term.
Leigh Brightman, 37, of Tennyson Ave, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, had been asked to investigate the girl’s disappearance and found her working as a prostitute.
The officer, who is now suspended from duty, then invited her to his home for sex, the Old Bailey heard.
He also had sex with two women he met during the course of his duties.
On the day his trial was due to start, Brightman pleaded guilty to three counts of misconduct in a public office between 2009 and last year.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC said a guilty plea would reduce the likely sentence to between three years and nine months, and four years.
Brightman, who had been suspended from Hertfordshire Police pending the outcome of his case, was caught after the 15-year-old girl told police about the plan to go to his house, the court heard.
When he was arrested in August last year, police found 117 indecent images of children on his laptop and one indecent film.
The judge described the girl as “particularly vulnerable person”, and said the officer’s conduct amounted to an “abuse of trust”.
The court heard Brightman’s other two offences involved a prostitute in her 20s and a woman in her 40s, who had gone to the police saying she was being harassed by an ex-boyfriend.
Brightman had already been formally acquitted of a rape charge, while two more counts of misconduct and one count of making indecent photos of a child are expected to lie on file.
The defendant had “marital difficulties” after finding out his wife had been unfaithful. The couple have since reconciled and Brightman’s wife has been very “supportive”, the court heard.
Judge Lucraft remanded Brightman in custody ahead of sentencing on 27 November.
The officer, pictured hiding his face outside the Old Bailey