Greater Manchester Police officer’s sentence for 'vicious' attempted rape will not be extended

Ernesto Ceraldi's victim "feared for her life" during the attack in April 2022. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

A police officer who carried out a "vicious" attack on a woman before attempting to rape her will not have jail sentence increased - after judges said it was not 'unduly lenient'.

Ernesto Ceraldi was jailed for five years and four months at Preston Crown Court in June 2022 after pleading guilty to attempted rape and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The 44-year-old, who has since resigned from Greater Manchester Police, throttled, punched and pulled his victim's hair during the attack on 1 April 2022.

But following the sentencing, his jail term was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

Lawyers representing the AGO argued, at a hearing on Thursday 8 August, that Ceraldi’s sentence was not long enough for his crime and should be increased.

But, refusing to increase the sentence, Lord Justice Bean said the Crown Court judge was entitled to reach the conclusion not to impose an extended sentence, and also to reflect Ceraldi’s early guilty pleas in the overall term.

Ernesto Ceraldi was a dog handler with Greater Manchester Police when he carried out the attack. Credit: PA images

At his sentencing hearing in June, David Traynor, prosecuting, said Ceraldi met his victim in a pub on the day of the attack.

Ceraldi, who was a police officer at the time, showed his victim his badge and pictures of his police dog to gain her trust.

The victim invited him back to her home in Rossendale, Lancashire, where they had consensual sex, before sitting on the sofa and talking together.

Mr Traynor described how the defendant’s attitude “changed all of a sudden” and he began to demand she perform a sexual act on him and grabbed her hair.

He pushed her against a wall, causing a picture to fall and smash, and throttled with such force she "nearly stopped breathing", a court heard.

Ceraldi is said to have repeatedly punched her before she ran to the back door and escaped, being pursued by the defendant who was completely naked.

“She was absolutely terrified and she thought he was going to kill her", Mr Traynor said.

Ceraldi pinned the woman against a wall before a neighbour heard her screams. They helped the victim into her house and called the police, the court heard.

The dog handler was found by police sleeping naked on the sofa of his victim’s house, with his leg through the arm of a jacket.

The Court of Appeal judges concluded Ceraldi's sentence was “not unduly lenient”. Credit: PA images

Following the attack, blood spatters were found on walls of the house and hair extensions which he had pulled from her head were found on the floor, Mr Traynor said.

In a statement read to the court, the victim said: “As a police officer I should have been able to trust him without a shadow of a doubt.

"If I cannot trust a police officer with 21 years of service, who can I trust?”

Julian King, defending, said Ceraldi had a wife and two adult children.

He said: “The actions of the defendant were out of character, they were isolated in nature and engaged through, what must be an aggravating feature, the substantial consumption of alcohol.”

Judge Simon Medland QC said Ceralid behaved in a way which was “aggressive and coercive and violent” and included blunt force trauma and squeezing the victim’s throat.

He believed Ceraldi had shown remorse and said a significant feature of the case was that he pleaded guilty at a plea and trial preparation hearing, having previously denied the offences.

Lord Justice Bean told the court a report from a prison officer indicated Ceraldi is “genuinely horrified” by his behaviour, and that Ceraldi said he “didn’t want any sympathy”, adding: “I have spent many years helping victims and now I have created one.”

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