A POLICE Community Support Officer has been cleared of indecently assaulting a vulnerable woman while on duty.
Keith Jones fought back tears of relief as he was discharged by Judge Niclas Parry.
The prosecution alleged he went to the woman’s flat in Wrexham, said he wanted to search her for drugs, got blue gloves out and fondled or tweaked her breast.
The woman in her late 50s, described as vulnerable with mental health and drug problems, told a jury how he removed one of her breasts from her bra and played with her nipple.
Jones, 58, of Gredington Close, Wrexham, denied indecently assaulting the woman in October 2012.
When the unanimous not guilty verdict was announced, after a half-hour retirement by the jury at Mold Crown Court, Jones said: “Thank God that’s all over. It has been hanging over me for 20 months.”
Asked about his future, he said that he had tried not to think about it, but was now looking forward to trying to get his life back to normality.
Jones was supported by family and friends who cheered and applauded when the verdict was announced.
He added: “Common sense has prevailed. Thank God for that.”
The jury was told that at about 6pm on October 3, she answered a knock on the door and Jones was there.
She invited him in because he was dressed as a police officer and assumed he had visited her because she was classed as a vulnerable adult.
Prosecutor Jayne La Grua said: “She thought she could trust him as a police community support officer (PSCO).”
During a conversation, she said he asked her if she had any drugs on her and she sarcastically replied ‘Yes thank’”.
He said he would have to search her and asked her to stand with her arms outstretched.
It was alleged that he patted her shoulders, arms, sides and waist before pulling her jumper up.
“He took one of her breasts from the cup of the bra and held her nipple between his finger and thumb and fondled it.
“In her own words, he tweaked it,” Miss La Grua claimed.
In her evidence, the complainant said she regarded him as a pervert.
Giving evidence in his own defence, Jones said he called on her to check on her welfare but he denied he indecently assaulted her.
He said there had been no physical contact at all when he visited her at her flat in the Wrexham area.
He had been on routine patrol and stopped to chat to neighbours of the complainant.
One of them had said the woman was crying and he told them he would pop upstairs to see if there was anything he could do.
The defendant said he knew who they were talking about.
She had been arrested at that stage but released without charge and a member of her family had been prosecuted.
That day, he said, he knocked on her door.
“She came to the door and I think I introduced myself along the lines ‘I am Keith, your local PCSO’,” he said.
The complainant had said “you had better come in” and he followed her in to the flat.
She sat in a chair and he stood leaning against the door jam.
They chatted and she said someone had been trying her door handle at night and also made allegations about some kids smoking cannabis on the communal stairs.
“That was new information to me,” he said.
“We are tasked to do follow-up visits.
“After the previous drug raid, it was just to see that everything was alright and I had been told about her being upset and crying.
“I had a duty to go and see if she was ok, if anything did happen.”
He believed that she was edgy and confused.
“She did not seem to really know who I was,” Jones added.
“I explained to her that I was a PCSO, not a policeman – or I tried to.
“I said if she had any problems give me a ring and I’d do my best to help.”
It was then he put his card on the table in her flat.
He had never been any closer than eight or nine feet to her.
When he mentioned the earlier raid, she had said “you can search me any time” – which he took to mean he could search her flat any time.
But he said he was not there to do that, he did not have the powers to do it, and that he was only there to check that she was ok and to see if she needed any help.
Before he left, they chatted outside and he offered her a mint.
He said he had been wearing his PCSO uniform and he did have his police-issue blue gloves which they used for evidence gathering.
But he had not put them on in the flat, he said.
He had later made a pocket notebook entry about his visit and said that he would call again to check on her.
Nicholas Clarke, defending, said that the complainant had taken drugs, had mental health problems, and was clearly confused about what had taken place.
At home last night, Mr Jones said: “I still don’t know how it all unfolded really. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
But he said he held “no malice” against the woman who alleged he had fondled her.
Mr Jones said the months following the initial complaint against him in October 2012 had been ‘horrendous’.
“They have been horrendous every day but you know you have done nothing wrong,” he said.
“There’s just a sense of relief and that commonsense has prevailed. I expected commonsense to come and for the case to be seen as what it was.
“I hold no malice against the lady but it should have never have got as far as it did and put us all through this.
“It’s been absolute hell, for my wife Wendy and my children and the whole family.
“I’m glad it’s all over and I’m looking forward to going to back to living a normal life.
“I enjoy my job but I’ve not got a clue about the future going forward.”