'No one would believe a junkie' - PC who raped and abused drug addicts jailed for life
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Communities
A rogue policeman was jailed for life today after being convicted of raping and sexually assaulting vulnerable women.
Pc Stephen Mitchell preyed on women he met while on duty from his base at Pilgrim Street police station in Newcastle.
He was given two life sentences at Newcastle Crown Court and told he would not be eligible for parole for at least seven and a half years.
Mitchell, originally from Glasgow, raped and sexually abused heroin addicts, shoplifters and a disabled teenager by offering them help while in custody, then demanding sexual favours afterwards.
Mitchell, 42, formerly of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, told one of his victims that if she complained, "no one would believe a junkie".
During a five-week trial in December, the Pc claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by the criminal underworld, and labelled his accusers liars.
But after nearly a week of deliberation, a jury convicted him of raping two women and carrying out three further indecent assaults.
Mitchell was convicted of two rapes, three indecent assaults and six counts of misconduct in a public office against seven female victims.
Sentencing, trial judge Mr Justice Wilkie said Mitchell presented such a danger to women that he might never be released from prison.
He said the officer had broken the bond of trust that existed between the public and the police. Mitchell was a sexual predator who "ruthlessly exploited" his victims for his own pleasure and "degraded them repeatedly".
He said: "You succeeded so well you were able to treat them as sex objects over a period of months, and in some cases, years.
"So cowed and downtrodden by their experiences of life and by your influence were those seven women that they did not report what you had done until they were given the opportunity to do so by the police investigation into your activities years later."
He said Mitchell would serve at least seven-and-a-half years in jail before being considered for parole.
"Thereafter, you will only be released, if at all, if the parole board has concluded it is safe and in the public interest for you to be released on public licence.
"That may not be for many years, if for ever."
The judge had ordered psychiatric and sex offender reports before passing sentence.
In the court's public gallery, some of Mitchell's victims wept as he was led into the dock.
Short, stocky, and wearing a goatee beard, Mitchell remained impassive as the judge passed sentence.
During a five-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court, the Pc claimed last month he was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by the criminal underworld, and labelled his accusers liars.
But a jury found for his victims, and after nearly a week of deliberations convicted him of raping two women and carrying out three further indecent assaults.
Many of his victims were too intimidated to face the rogue Pc during the trial.
They were allowed to give evidence from behind a screen.
Mitchell had a hold over one of the women for three-and-a-half years, even trying to keep her on heroin after she had quit.
Her ordeal ended only when she went into hiding after he raped her in handcuffs at her home.
Mitchell promised the addict, who is now in her 30s, he would help her regain custody of her children in return for favours.
He locked her in his patrol car and raped her after she was arrested for theft.
He paid £20 for sex after arresting a 27-year-old heroin addict on suspicion of shoplifting.
He told another, a 21-year-old heroin addict "You see what you do to us", and groped her while she sat in a patrol car in Newcastle.
Mitchell claimed the women colluded against him after a rumour which he said had been made up by one claimant was picked up by others in a close-knit criminal fraternity.
He said: "These people will grab any opportunity they can."
The rogue cop was nicknamed "Pc Cucumber" because of his cold, callous demeanour during the three-year investigation into his sex crimes.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Sharman, who led the inquiry, said: "He was a clever, manipulative, devious individual. I have never seen anything like it in interviews. He showed no emotion whatsoever.
"It is not every day you get a knock on the door to say you are being charged with a series of rapes and indecent assaults.
"He was utterly emotionless and showed no remorse."
Mr Justice Wilkie praised the police for the "patient and professional way in which they investigated the case and coaxed these very damaged women to give their evidence in court".
He said: "It's of the highest importance that when such people do make complaints of ill-treatment, which are well-founded, that they are taken seriously and properly investigated."
Northumbria Police apologised for Mitchell's "evil" actions.
It said serious failings had led to the Pc being free to attack drug addicts and shoplifters after arresting them.
The force faces paying millions of pounds compensation to Mitchell's victims.
Outside court, the prosecution service's Crown Advocate Paul Simpson said: "Stephen Mitchell is a sexual predator who used and abused his position as a police officer to prey on vulnerable women.
"The sentence today reflects the seriousness and gravity of the offending.
"It also recognises that Stephen Mitchell still is a danger to women.
"I would like to pay tribute to the victims in this case.
"They came and supported the prosecution, gave their evidence, and, in doing so, had to relive the darkest days of their lives."
Northumbria Police said Mitchell had resigned from the force.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Jim Campbell said: "I continue to offer my unreserved apologies to anyone who has been subject to criminal or inappropriate behaviour by Mitchell during his time as a serving officer with Northumbria Police.
"The public quite rightly expect that the officers and staff of Northumbria Police adhere to the highest possible standards of professional conduct and place immense trust in them.
"Mitchell, acting alone for his own abusive purposes, completely abused this trust and is now where he deserves to be - behind bars for a considerable period of time.
"Following his conviction he resigned from the force.
"We are also seeking authority to apply for a forfeiture of Mitchell's police pension.
"I want to again pay tribute to the victims in this case and thank them.
"Without their courage and support we could not have succeeded in bringing Mitchell to justice.
"I hope today's sentence will now allow them to move on with their lives."