A predatory South Yorkshire police officer who groomed a 15-year-old girl for a naked picture has been jailed for 18 months.
PC Daniel Cookson, based in Rotherham before his suspension, claimed the victim was lying. But a Sheffield Crown Court jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict in just over two hours.
Cookson’s supporters consoled each other in the public gallery as the shamed officer was led away.
A member of the victim’s family said outside court: “I’m glad the jury believed what she has been saying. It’s been a nightmare two years waiting for this to finally come to court. I’ve just sat there numb. We hope we can put this behind us.”
Another family member said: “He’s lied throughout the trial and called her a liar. He thought throughout the case that he could get away with it. He said he fell in love with her, it’s just wrong.”
Judge Michael Murphy QC said: “This is no doubt a serious case which involved grooming the 15-year-old.
“You told the court she had been lying. She was not lying.
“She confided in you with many anxieties that a teenage girl will have at that stage.
“This was an unhealthy relationship and she was an immature young girl that needed protection. You should’ve known that.”
The court heard Cookson got close to his victim on her 15th birthday and began exchanging messages with the schoolgirl before the texts became ‘more and more sexualised’.
But when she told him the relationship could not progress he said the only way it would stop would be if she sent a picture of herself to him, which she knew meant a naked photograph.
The court heard 569 text messages were exchanged between Cookson and his victim between August 14 and November 10 in 2013.
The offence came to light when the victim’s father saw a message on his daughter’s phone from Cookson.
Cookson – whose partner was pregnant with his child when he sent the messages to the young girl – was using his police issue Blackberry phone during the exchanges.
Stephen Wood, prosecuting, said: “This whole ordeal has had an immense impact on the victim and her family.”
James Gelsthorpe, defending, said: “This is a man of previous good character and now this has been lost.
“He recognises that an inevitable prison sentence will be imposed.
“He’s had seven unblemished years in South Yorkshire Police and this will now impact on him all the more inside prison.
“It will have a massive impact on his young family and he will carry this burden for the rest of his life.”
Cookson, of Dickens Road, Worksop, was also handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “A misconduct investigation will be considered by the force’s Professional Standards Department now that criminal proceedings have concluded.”
Detective Superintendent Terry Mann said: “Members of the public quite rightly expect higher standards and behaviour from our officers and staff and anyone who is found to have fallen short of those standards and be suspected of committing a crime will be thoroughly and professionally investigated.
“The force expects its staff to act with integrity and professionalism to ensure people receive a high quality service and have a police service they can be proud of.”