Police officer cleared of three rape charges

A police officer accused of raping and sexually abusing vulnerable women was cleared of seven of the 26 charges he faces today.

Pc Stephen Mitchell, 42, was found not guilty of three counts of rape, two of indecent assault and two of misconduct in a public office.

The jury at Newcastle Crown Court is continuing its deliberations on a further two counts of rape, four of indecent assault and 13 of misconduct.

After three days of deliberation the jury was told by Mr Justice Wilkie he would accept majority verdicts on the remaining charges.

During the five-week trial the court heard Mitchell preyed on heroin addicts who had been arrested.

The police officer said his 16 accusers were liars and opportunists.

The judge sent the jury home to continue deliberating on Tuesday, as the court will not sit on Monday.

Mr Justice Wilkie told the jurors: "Obviously we have reached a very crucial stage of this trial and it is important I press on you that you do not discuss this trial with anyone."