Policewoman jailed after falsely claiming prosecutors had dropped rape case

Officer told alleged victim that the CPS had decided not to pursue the case, when she had never passed the file to them

A policewoman who told an alleged rape victim her case had been dropped, when she hadn't even passed the file on to prosecutors, has been jailed for four months.

Pc Hannah Notley, 30, also lied to her superiors.

On Friday she was sentenced at London's Southwark Crown Court. She had already pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct in public office.

From Benfleet in Essex, Notley had been, Judge Alistair McCreath said, "a thoroughly good police officer." She had taken on detective duties working as a sexual offences-trained officer at Essex Police CID, when in July 2011 a woman reported a rape allegation.

The alleged perpetrator was arrested and interviewed, and his mobile phone and computer examined.

But when Notley was later asked what had happened in the case, she told a superior the CPS had decided not to pursue it. She also told the alleged victim so.

This was compounded, said Zoe Martin of the prosecution, by the fact that she told the complainant that it had been dropped because her complaint came too long after the alleged offence.

Miss Martin said: "The alleged victim states that on the evening that she was telephoned by Ms Notley to say that there was no further action, she tried to take her own life.

"She said that she, in her own words, was 'gutted'."

The court heard Notley even gave superiors a name of a CPS lawyer who had taken the decision. The matter only came to light after an independent adviser allocated to the complainant pursued the matter and it transpired that the file was never sent.

The rape allegation was re-investigated, the court heard, and the alleged perpetrator has now been charged. He is due to stand trial in May.

In mitigation, Allan Compton, on behalf of Notley, told the court she was a "dedicated, respected and hard-working police officer", adding: "She loved the job and she was a credit to Essex Police."

He said Notley had been "beset with guilt" over her lie, and had not gained from it.

The court heard Notley had been suffering from difficulties in her personal life - she had split from her fiance just weeks before their wedding, and had later suffered a miscarriage which coincided with her sister falling pregnant.

He told the court she had been deeply depressed at the time and had suffered some form of emotional breakdown, but it was never her intention to "bury this investigation completely".

The court heard that a letter from Notley's parents described her "slowly imploding before their eyes".

Motley wept throughout the sentencing hearing and broke down as she was sentenced, saying "I love you" to family members in the public gallery as she was led away.

Sentencing Notley, the judge said: "I have no hesitation at all in accepting that you were - apart from your dealings in the case which gives rise to this case before me today - a conscientious, hard-working and in all respects thoroughly good police officer."

He said he sympathised with Notley, and recognised that her life was in a "bad place", and she had lost her job.

But he said: "High duties are placed on police officers and a high degree of trust is reposed in police officers to perform their duties properly.

"The public expect that and the public are entitled to expect it.

"By your actions, and more importantly your failures, in this case, you let down the police force of which you were a member.

"You let down the wider public, but in particular you let down the complainant in the case yet to be tried."

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