A POLICE officer accused of rape and a string of other serious offences was offered a “get out of jail free card” and told his own force would stop investigating him if he quit, a court was told yesterday .
PC Stephen Mitchell’s barrister said his client had covertly recorded a conversation with DCI Chris Sharman in which he was encouraged to step down in return for a promise to “stop digging”.
In the recording, senior investigating officer DCI Sharman is said to have told Mitchell that if he was charged, he will “probably be front page of the national newspapers and they are horrible”.
Mitchell was also told he was “running the risk of going to jail and going on the sex offender register”, Toby Hedworth QC said. He told jurors that the offer to stop digging if Mitchell resigned was the equivalent of a get out of jail free card from the board game Monopoly.
But, he said, by not taking up the offer and fighting the claims, Mitchell had shown he was innocent.
Mr Hedworth said: “What it means is: ‘Resign and this will go away’.
“DCI Sharman said ‘the ball’s entirely in your court, we are digging and if you want us to stop digging there are options available to you’. The alternative was spelled out: ‘Arrest, charge and front page of the national papers, jail and the sex offender register’.
“If you are guilty and are given the alternative of a Monopoly-style get out of jail free card, you would jump at the chance and have the matter brought quietly to a close and resign.
“If are innocent what else can you do but fight it, fight for your life.”
Newcastle Crown Court heard the recording was made by Mitchell during a meeting with DCI Sharman in March last year. Mr Hedworth made the allegation against Northumbria Police during his closing speech in Mitchell’s trial. Prosecutors claim the recording was not an offer of having the matter dropped.
Mitchell, 42, formerly of Whitley Bay, is accused of five counts of rape, six of indecent assault and 15 of misconduct in public office.
He is said to have attacked vulnerable women he met while on duty and based at Pilgrim Street Police Station, in Newcastle.
Mitchell denies all the charges. The trial continues.