Soham detective who faced child porn case is jailed for fake alibi

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The family of the Soham murder victim Jessica Chapman have condemned their "betrayal" by a police liaison officer who was jailed yesterday for creating a false alibi while facing child pornography charges.

The family of the Soham murder victim Jessica Chapman have condemned their "betrayal" by a police liaison officer who was jailed yesterday for creating a false alibi while facing child pornography charges.

Detective Constable Brian Stevens, 43, made up the alibi when he was being investigated over allegations that he downloaded child porn on to his laptop. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

His friend Louise Austin, 32, an executive case officer for the Crown Prosecution Service, helped provide the alibi and was also found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice at the Old Bailey. She was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, at the end of the two-week trial.

Following his conviction, Stevens was accused by former colleagues of "playing the Soham card" during the trial.

In the witness box, he spoke emotionally of his intimacy with the Chapmans as he tried to present himself to the jury as an honest police officer.

He even recalled breaking the news to Sharon Chapman that her 10-year-old daughter had been found dead when, in fact, that task fell to another family liaison officer, PC Gaye Mallows.

A statement from Sharon and Leslie Chapman and their daughters Alison and Rebecca said yesterday: "The use of our grief as part of Brian Stevens' defence in his trial has left us with a sense of betrayal."

They added: "We asked him [Stevens] to read a poem on our behalf at the celebration of life service at Ely Cathedral, and now seeing him convicted has forever tainted what should have been a poignant reminder of our daughter Jessica's life."

The allegation against Stevens stemmed from an earlier case in which he had been accused of downloading indecent pictures of children in June 2002.

Stevens was arrested at his Cambridgeshire home in September 2002, after his name came up in Operation Ore, a UK-wide investigation of paedophiles using the internet.

Indecent images of children were found on Stevens' laptop and he was charged - but the case was later dropped after it emerged that other officers could have downloaded the images. Three charges of indecent assault by Stevens against two underage girls were also dropped at the same time.

But, before the case collapsed, Stevens had claimed he was more than 100 miles away from the computer at the time the images where downloaded.

He claimed to have spent the night at Louise Austin's home comforting her after she was dumped by her boyfriend.

That was exposed as a lie, however, after mobile phone records and credit card transactions were found to show his movements.

The prosecution said he and Austin had concocted the false alibi as an insurance policy to make sure he "got off the hook".

Sentencing the pair, Judge Gerald Gordon said they would both lose their jobs as a result of the convictions.

A Cambridgeshire Police source said: "His actions since his arrest have been disgusting; he has tried every possible means of escaping.

"The fact that he included in his defence references to private meetings with the Chapman family is a gross betrayal. The Chapman family have always been a private family. It was disgraceful."