Police officer and wife acquitted of sex charges

A police officer and his wife were today found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman after the prosecution offered no evidence against them.

Sgt Nicholas Clarke and Joanne Clarke had been due to stand trial at Hereford Crown Court charged with assaulting the woman in Worcestershire in June 2009.

But Sgt Clarke was formally acquitted of rape and his wife of sexual assault after the Crown accepted that recent inquiries into a text message sent on the complainant's mobile phone meant there was no reasonable prospect of convictions.

Mrs Clarke, a civilian police worker, pleaded guilty last February to supplying and possessing cannabis during a party at the couple's home in Rednal, Worcestershire, on June 26 last year.

Judge Toby Hooper QC, sentenced Clarke to a conditional discharge after hearing that her life had been "turned upside down" by the allegations against her.

Explaining the decision not to proceed with the allegation of rape and sexual assault, prosecutor Jonas Hankin said he had been made aware at the end of last week of further inquiries made into the complainant's handset and SIM card.

Mr Hankin added: "The result of that was that I was then in a position to put into context a text message sent by the complainant shortly after waking on the morning in question.

"It became clear to me that there was no longer any reasonable prospect of a conviction."

The defendants, both aged 49 and of Beacon Hill, Rednal, were charged in October 2009 after an investigation by West Mercia Police.

Outlining the facts in relation to the drugs offences committed by Mrs Clarke, Mr Hankin said she had supplied an amount of cannabis sufficient to make one spliff and had also stored a quantity of the drug worth around £200 on top of a wardrobe at her home.

Christopher Johnston, defending Mrs Clarke, told the court that a man attending the party had in fact rolled the spliff that she admitted supplying.

Mr Johnston said: "Had it not been for the other allegations in this case, it could well have been that the discovery of the cannabis could have been dealt with by a warning.

"Mrs Clarke has suffered a devastating experience over the last 16 months or so."

Passing sentence on Mrs Clarke, Judge Hooper told her: "Had it not been for the circumstances in which you were in fact arrested, it is clear to me ... that you would very probably have been subject to some penalty short of arrest and proceedings.

"You would very probably have been subjected to a warning or a caution."

Mr and Mrs Clarke are both understood to be suspended from their posts with the West Midlands force. Both left the court without comment.