Police sergeant denies rape as he tells court: ‘I know what consent is’

Defendant ‘took advantage of that young lady, who was very drunk,’ prosecution says

Lamiat Sabin
Thursday 07 October 2021 18:16
<p>Ben Lister at Bradford crown court </p>

Ben Lister at Bradford crown court

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A police sergeant has denied raping a woman after a night out, telling a jury that he “know[s] what consent is.”

Ben Lister, 36, denied that he had sex with a woman without her consent at the end of a night of heavy drinking at a mutual friend’s house during an appearance at At Bradford Crown Court on Thursday.

Mr Lister, from Bradford, was a constable with West Yorkshire Police at the time of the incident in August 2016, but was a sergeant by the time he was arrested and suspended.

In court today, he said: “I know what consent is. I don’t recall a conversation in the build-up, can I have sex with her.

“That’s not a conversation I would have. It’s in body language, the moment with someone, the build-up, the conversation. I wouldn’t just start to have sex with someone.”

He was asked by his barrister, Laura Nash, whether the woman had asked him to stop and he said “no”.

Ms Nash also asked whether the complainant had indicated she did not want to engage in sexual activity, whether she pushed him away, or appeared unwilling to participate.

Mr Lister replied “no” to each question.

He said that when they arrived at a friend’s house on that night, “everyone was drunk”, adding that “no-one was out of it. No-one was falling over. No-one needed to be helped.”

Mr Lister was asked about a Facebook message from the woman saying “did I sleep with you last night?” and why he replied “no”.

The defendant said he had just split up with his partner, who was also a police officer, and wanted to get back with her, but feared her finding out about the woman who has accused him of rape.

The jury has heard how the complainant became pregnant, had a child and that DNA analysis showed Lister was the father.

He said he could not see how he was the father because he had remembered “pulling out, for want of a better phrase”, adding that “it never crossed my mind that I could be the father.”

He later said: “I’m the father of that child, I accept that.”

Prosecutors have told the jury their case is that the woman did not consent to sexual contact with him and “for the bulk of it she wasn’t in any fit state to do so because of intoxication”.

Yesterday (6 October), the woman – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – told the jury that she did not remember having sex with Lister, but recalled trying to push him away from her as she felt “trapped”.

Richard Woolfall, opening the case for the prosecution, told the jury that Lister dragged the woman off a sofa while she was asleep before touching her sexually while she was drifting in and out of consciousness.

He said: “It is the prosecution’s case that this defendant went on to take advantage of that young lady, who was very drunk.”

The woman went to police in January 2020 before Lister was then arrested and interviewed, the court heard.

Lister denies one count of rape and one count of assault by penetration.

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