Essex police officer accused of groping vulnerable woman

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

An Essex Police officer is accused of groping a vulnerable suspect and trying to kiss her against her will.

An Essex Police officer is accused of groping a vulnerable suspect and trying to kiss her against her will.

Pc Neil Culham, 42, faces two charges of sexual assault against a Clacton woman who has mental health issues.

Culham, of Ardleigh Road, Dedham, allegedly groped the woman while driving her home from Clacton Police Station in November 2012.

Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday how he pulled the car over in an industrial estate during the late night journey and tried to kiss her, after placing his hand on her upper thigh.

Culham also allegedly fondled the victim’s breast, groped between her legs over her clothing, and took her hand and placed it over his genitals while in a side room at the police station when she answered bail in January last year.

The investigation into the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was later dropped.

Most Read

Culham, an officer of 12 years’ service, was placed on restricted duties when the allegations were made.

He denies the charges and the trial is expected to last around one week.

Jamie Sawyer, prosecuting, told the jury of six men and six women yesterday: “The allegations are unfortunately concerned with his employment, and she is a vulnerable person.

“She was exploited by Culham. He had power which he sought to propagate and he made the most of that.

“She got into a police car thinking she was perfectly safe, given this was a police officer offering to take her home. Unfortunately it was not the case that she was safe.”

Mr Sawyer said a tracking device in the car corroborated the victim’s description of the journey home, including a deviation from the route and stopping where Culham allegedly kissed her.

On the second occasion Culham said he was taking the victim into a soundproofed room with no cameras and said “Can you just stick your tongue down my throat and I will let you go”, the court heard.

He then told her she had nice breasts and kissed the top of one, before groping her and making her touch him and saying “Look what you have done to me”, Mr Sawyer said.

The court was shown a video interview of the victim yesterday.

During it the victim described Culham as “smarmy” and said about the first incident: “I felt shocked, anxious, awful.

“I could clearly feel his hand, and could feel his wedding ring.

“When he kissed me on the lips I pulled away. He had smelly breath. He tried to snog me, put his tongue in my mouth.”

The trial continues.