A police officer who won a national award for bravery has been jailed after abusing his position to have sex with a vulnerable woman.
Lee Wilcox, 45, was off-duty when he went to the woman's house in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, after earlier being called out to a domestic incident at her home.
Wilcox, who has since resigned from his position with South Yorkshire Police, described the incident as a “moment of madness”.
He pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office and was jailed for nine months at Leeds Crown Court today.
Wilcox had been a police officer for 23 years and had received a number of commendations during his career, including a Police Bravery Award in 2007 for rescuing a man from a burning building.
The court heard that in May last year, he was called to an incident in which a 34-year-old woman was threatening to jump from a window ledge.
Kitty Taylor, prosecuting, said Wilcox coaxed the woman from the ledge and went to the hospital with her.
He later said he had developed a rapport with the woman and police were told he joked with her that she should try a dating website called uniformdating.com.
In June, he was called to a domestic incident at the same woman's house during the early hours of the morning.
When he finished work at 7am that day, he called the woman to find out if she had resolved the dispute and then went round to her house, still wearing his police uniform.
Wilcox, who was based in Doncaster, stayed at the house for around 30 minutes and the pair had consensual sexual intercourse.
The woman, who had a history of mental health problems, later told the police what had happened and Wilcox was arrested and charged.
Nick Worsley, in mitigation, said the former police officer was having marriage problems at the time of the incident and was at a low ebb.
He said he “deeply, deeply regrets what happened”.
Mr Worsley said: "This is not a man who is a sexual predator, this is a man who has ended up deeply upset in his home life and has finally allowed it to impinge upon his professional life."
Sentencing Wilcox, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, described the high regard the former officer was held in by his seniors and colleagues and said he was seen as a role model.
He said: "But in June of last year, you set all that aside and in a moment of madness, ignoring all that you knew about what was acceptable and unacceptable, you took advantage of your position as a constable."
Judge Collier said Wilcox was aware of the woman's vulnerability because of the dealings he had with her during the course of his job.
He said: "It was in that circumstance you took advantage of your position, which was clearly one of power. That's how she would see you.
"You abused your position and your power and you went to her home again when you came off duty and there you had sex with her.
"It was a serious abuse of your position and a serious abuse of a vulnerable person.
"I accept it was a one-off incident. I accept that one day has ruined your life and undoubtedly caused further damage to a vulnerable person."
Judge Collier said he had to impose a jail sentence on Wilcox.
He said: "It has to be made clear to all constables, if they abuse their position in this way inevitably prison will follow."
Temporary deputy chief constable Andy Holt, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "South Yorkshire Police will not tolerate anyone abusing their position or undermining the faith or trust the public have in the police.
"The force will take serious action against anyone who falls below SYP standards and we will pursue prosecution when a crime has been committed."