Police officer jailed for assaulting girls

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The Independent Online

A policeman who became a national hero for catching one of Britain's most notorious serial killers was jailed yesterday for indecently assaulting teenage girls.

Police Constable Tony White was awarded the Queen's Gallantry medal for overpowering and arresting Donald Neilson, who became known as the Black Panther for a spree of armed robberies and murders in the early 1970s.

White was sentenced to three years for assaulting four girls who attended his private cadet corps camps in Nottinghamshire in 1996. White, 50, had denied using his authority and a mixed sex sleeping system to fondle the girls, who were 15 and 16 at the time, but was convicted at Derby Crown Court last month of six charges.

Judge Granville Styler told him: "There was a darker side to your character and you committed a serious breach of trust. You set yourself up as a mentor to these young women ...You knew they treated you like a father figure, some were from very poor backgrounds, and yet still you abused them."

The jury was told that the assaults happened at the cadet camps after White and his victims had been drinking. In each case White stroked and felt the girls, in two cases kissing them "passionately".

Since arresting Neilson in 1975, White has been a respected figure in his home town of Mansfield Woodhouse in Nottinghamshire, where he continued to serve as a police constable. A group of protesters outside court yesterday said White's conviction was a gross miscarriage of justice. One protester said they had proof White?s female victims had fabricated their stories.