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Police officer jailed after saving child photo of rape victim he found 'attractive'

Martin Harris, jailed after pleading guilty to misconduct in public office, downloading and making indecent images of children Credit: Sussex Police/PA Wire

A sexual offences liaison officer who put himself in the role to gain access to rape victims for his own "personal sexual gratification", has been jailed.

Sussex Police constable Martin Harris took advantage of his position and hacked a victim's Facebook to send himself pictures of her because he found her "attractive".

He used a password the woman gave police to help investigate her attack and emailed himself the photographs, including one of her aged 13 in school uniform.

The 37-year-old was jailed for two years at Hove Crown Court after pleading guilty to misconduct in public office, downloading and making indecent images of children.

He joined Sussex Police in 2002 and volunteered as a sexual offences liaison officer for 10 years before applying for the role between 2014 and 2015.

Harris, who worked for Sussex Police, was dismissed by the force in January Credit: Sussex Police

Judge Christine Henson, sentencing, said: "You intentionally put yourself in this role to gain access to complainants."

The father, who has two young children, worked with vulnerable victims of serious sexual offences and child abuse.

He was trained to look after them and be their point of contact during police investigations, prosecutor Rachel Beckett said.

He was reported to the force's professional standards department after two police constables discovered graphic messages on his work phone which he had left in a pool police car on March 31 last year.

The court heard how, on April 3, he escorted a rape victim to the Saturn sexual abuse support centre in Crawley, West Sussex.

She handed over personal information including account passwords to assist with the investigation. Not long after, he signed into her Facebook account and a day later emailed himself pictures of her.

Harris, of Saltdean, East Sussex, also saved pictures of other victims he met during his work and those of female colleagues, the court heard.

When he was arrested in May, naked pictures of children as young as six and searches for graphic websites were also discovered.

He also doctored pictures taken from the account of a childhood love interest so they became more graphic and edited them to show him having sex with her.

Harris took advantage of his position and hacked a victim's Facebook to send himself pictures of her Credit: PA

At a professional standards probe, it emerged he paid a prostitute £150 for sex at the Ibis hotel in Brighton during his shift, set up adverts selling himself for sex on Craigslist for up to £30, and met people while he was on duty using a work car.

Judge Henson said he had an "established" and "entrenched sexual addiction" and accessed information for "personal sexual gratification" in a "gross breach of trust".

He told officers in an interview that he found the rape victim "attractive" and "liked the idea of seeing something you shouldn't be seeing".

He said he got a "thrill" from taking pictures as he could "get away with it" but denied having a sexual interest in children.

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

A disciplinary panel dismissed him from the force in January.

Pre-sentence reports found Harris was highly manipulative, able to groom those around him, had a considerably high risk of re-offending and no motivation to reform.

He was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years, a restraining order was put in place and the images and electronic devices were ordered to be destroyed.

Judge Henson added: "Other police officers must see how the court approaches misconduct in public office. It must be punished and it must be a deterrent sentence."