Former Lancashire detective spared jail after admitting misconduct with vulnerable women

A former detective constable who exploited four women has walked free from court after a judge heard no-one else could care for his one-year-old child during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Stuart Lunt, 36, from Appley Bridge, Wigan, admitted inappropriate contact with the vulnerable women who he met in the course of his duties with Lancashire Police as either complainants or witnesses.

He has been sentenced to 18 months in jail, suspended for two years - he must also perform 250 hours of unpaid work.

The married father-of-two gained their trust and used it to his advantage as he attempted to engage in sexual relations with them and did so with one of his victims, Liverpool Crown Court was told.

Laura Nash, defending, asked Judge David Aubrey QC to consider "exceptional circumstances" in suspending a custodial sentence in what she said were "exceptional times".

Miss Nash explained that Lunt's wife was a designated key worker who was employed as a deputy manager at a pre-school nursery.

The couple were still living together with their children, aged six and one, but Lunt had been staying at home with the younger child, she said.

Immediate members of the Lunt family were also unable to offer assistance during the movement restrictions because they were in the vulnerable category range, the court was told.

Miss Nash also pointed out as a first-time offender and police officer that the Prison Service faced an "incredibly difficulty" in managing him in a custodial setting through the coronavirus pandemic.

Sentencing Lunt, Judge Aubrey, said: "In the particular circumstances of this case, and at a time of deep concern, in the judgment of the court the balance weighs just in favour of suspending the custodial sentence."

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to misconduct in a public office.

The defendant, who was based at Chorley and joined Lancashire Police in June 2015 after 12 years of service at Greater Manchester Police, resigned from the force last week.