Sussex

Police officer jailed after downloading child photo of rape victim

Martin Harris outside Hove Crown Court Image copyright EDDIE MITCHELL
Image caption Martin Harris was sacked after an internal investigation by Sussex Police

A police officer with "an entrenched sexual addiction" has been jailed for possessing indecent images of children.

Martin Harris took advantage of his work with victims of sex offences, even downloading childhood photos of a rape victim, Hove Crown Court heard.

Harris, 37, of Saltdean, Sussex, who admitted possessing and making indecent images and misconduct in public office, was jailed for two years.

Judge Christine Henson said his actions were a "gross breach of trust".

Harris, a police constable, who joined Sussex Police in 2002, volunteered as a sexual offences liaison officer for 10 years before applying for the post in the safeguarding investigation unit in Brighton.

Sex on duty

Judge Henson told him: "You intentionally put yourself in this role to gain access to complainants."

The court heard the father of two was initially investigated after colleagues discovered graphic messages on his work phone, which he had left in a pool police car.

Days later he accessed the Facebook account of a rape victim in his care after she gave him her password and sent himself images of her, including one in school uniform, aged 13.

During the internal professional standards investigation, Sussex Police discovered Harris had paid a prostitute for sex at a Brighton hotel while on duty. He also posted online adverts selling himself for sex and met people while on duty using a work car.

Image copyright EDDIE MITCHELL
Image caption Martin Harris (in the hat) worked with victims of sexual abuse

When he was arrested in May 2017 naked pictures of children as young and six were also discovered.

A disciplinary panel dismissed Harris from the force in January.

Adam James, defending, said Harris had a previously "unblemished and distinguished" career but his marriage had now broken down and his parents were "dismayed" by his behaviour.

He was sentenced to two years for misconduct in public office, two months for making an indecent image of a child and one month for possession of indecent images. The terms are to run concurrently.

He was also put on the sex register for 10 years.

Sussex's temporary Deputy Chief Constable, Laurence Taylor, said after the sentencing: "He has let down victims and his colleagues who carry out an enormous amount of good work with victims of serious offences every day."

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