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22 December 2014, 15:28
A former Cambridgeshire sergeant who admitted a string of serious sexual offences has today (Dec 22) been jailed for 14-and-a-half years.
Nick Lidstone, 54, who was based at force headquarters, pleaded guilty to 13 offences at Norwich Crown Court last month and was sentenced this afternoon at the same court.
They were: three counts of rape, three counts of indecency with a child, two counts of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, two counts of assault by penetration, one count of sexual assault, one count of indecent assault and one count of taking indecent photographs of a child.
He was arrested on June 26 and dismissed for gross misconduct on December 9 by the Chief Constable.
DCC Alec Wood said: "The sentence handed out today reflects the horrendous nature of Lidstone's crimes, which were committed over a prolonged period of time.
"We want the public and our own employees to feel confident about raising concerns about the conduct of our officers and staff. We will always investigate these cases thoroughly and ensure any offenders are brought to justice."
Lidstone pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecency with a child, two counts of indecent assault, one count of sexual assault and one count of assault by penetration and these will lie on file.
A judge has questioned how he was allowed to keep his job and carry on abusing a girl despite being caught taking photographs of children eight years earlier.
He was given a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to a minor public order offence at North and East Hertfordshire Magistrates' Court in 2005. Because he was not charged with a sexual offence, his name was not placed on the sex offenders' register.
His abuse of the girl escalated and all of the most serious attacks happened after this offence, the court heard.
Sentencing him to 14 and a half years for the latest offences, Judge Anthony Bate said he had used his victim as a "sexual toy". He placed Lidstone on the sex offenders' register for life.
He added: "You have one previous conviction which has two worrying aspects: firstly, the nature of the offence and secondly, the fact you were convicted under public order legislation when quite clearly these were serious sexual offences.
You had armed yourself with a covert camera and were found taking pictures of children. Why on earth you were not charged under the sexual offences act, I do not know.
Whoever took that decision, it allowed you to carry on as a police officer."
The judge added that because he was convicted of a public order offence, nobody had looked more closely at Lidstone's relationship with children and a chance to detect his abuse was missed.
Despite undergoing therapy to address his sexual deviancy, Lidstone carried on abusing his victim who suffered significant psychological harm.
Judge Bate said that Lidstone's apparent cooperation with therapy showed how he was able to "manipulate experts" into believing he had an ordinary sex life.
It was not until last month when he admitted the abuse that he was dismissed from his role at the force's headquarters after 30 years of service.
Prosecutor Andrew Shaw said the pictures taken in 2005 were of "young children" and there was some doubt over whether the worst of the images were found.
Kerry Broome, mitigating, said Lidstone had agreed to undergo counselling in order to keep his job.
His role with the police had not involved regular contact with children.
Lidstone, from Heslerton Way, Barrington, Cambridgeshire, pleaded guilty to 13 offences - including three counts of rape, three counts of indecency with a child, various sexual assaults and taking an indecent photograph of a child - in November this year. He denied six other counts, which were left to lie on file.
Mr Shaw told the court Lidstone started grooming the girl when she was nine. He would expose himself to her, show her pornography and take indecent photographs.
"This was serious sexual assault,'' Mr Shaw said. "The abuse was more or less continuous and culminated in rape when she was a young adult."
His victim was unable to make a statement to the court, saying she was so distressed that even the thought of it made her physically sick.
One witness who knew the victim described how her life had been "ruined".
"She has never been able to integrate or make friends,'' he said. "He has shown himself to be lying and manipulative.''
Dressed in a black suit, Lidstone broke down in tears in the dock as details of his abuse were read out.
Referring to the latest offences, Miss Broome said her client had been ``infatuated''.
She said that, with expert help, there was no reason he should pose any further danger to the public.
"He is very well aware of the shame he has brought on the police force and his 30 years of service are over,'' Miss Broome said.
Speaking after Lidstone was dismissed last month, Deputy Chief Constable Alec Wood said: "This was an appalling crime where the victim was put through a horrendous ordeal over a prolonged period."