Northampton officer on trial for rape claims girl 'technically' sexually assaulted him as he removed a 'wedgie'

PC Declan Gabriel is on trial for the alleged rape and sexual assault of a teenager while on duty.

PC Declan Gabriel is on trial for the alleged rape and sexual assault of a teenager while on duty.

A Northampton police officer accused of raping a teenage girl on duty told a jury he was adjusting his boxer shorts when the alleged victim made an advance towards him.

PC Declan Gabriel, who was based at Mereway police station, is accused of raping and sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl while on duty on the morning of September 21, 2015.

On Tuesday Northampton Crown Court heard how the alleged victim needed to be found a place to sleep that morning after having an argument with her mother.

But Gabriel, who was driving a single-crewed vehicle at the time, is accused of driving the girl to two lay-bys in the county and sexually assaulting her between around 4am and 6am.

Yesterday prosecutor Matthew Lowe told the court how Gabriel had switched his body-worn camera off for the duration of the two hours he was with the alleged victim.

The officer said this was because he did not consider the teenager "to be a suspect."

Mr Lowe then described how, after a second attempt to find the girl accommodation at her boyfriend's house had failed, he and the girl pulled over in Mereway, near to the the force headquarters.

He claimed this was so he could continue to observe passing cars for "traffic offences," while they awaited a return call from her boyfriend.

On the witness stand he admitted turning the conversation to a sexual nature at this point in the mornign, asking whether she and her boyfriend were having sex.This, he said, was "intelligience gathering," to assess whether the girl was being sexually exploited.

He denied the prosecution's claim that he made the girl touch a private part of his body at this point, though Gabriel admitted to being partially aroused during the conversation in the car.

He claimed this was how his "body reacted", adding that he was not attracted to the 17-year-old.

"You pulled into this lay-by to test the water with her didn't you," Mr Lowe asked him.

"Gabriel replied: "No I did not."

Mr Lowe continued: "You wanted to see what her reaction would be. You made sexual advances to her."

The policeman answered: "No absolutely not."

Shortly afterwards Gabriel drove around East Hunsbury, initially pursuing a van he claimed was speeding, before headed towards Blisworth with the girl in the passenger seat.

On-route he pulled over in a lay-by at Milton Malsor Crematorium and got out to stretch his legs.

Returning to the car, the defendant claimed he needed to "remove a wedgie," as his boxer shorts had become trapped uncomfortably in the act of sitting down. He reclined the drivers' seat, he claimed, and unzipped his trousers to gain access to the underwear.

"Do you think it was appropriate to start pulling your zip down?" the prosecutor asked.

Gabriel replied: "To be honest no, I don't think it was a smart thing to do. The smart thing to have done would have been to have got out the vehicle."

Gabriel, who was even made to demonstrate how he removed the uncomfortable boxer shorts in the courtroom, then claimed the 17-year-old reached across and put her hand down his trousers.

The prosecutor asked: "She sexually assaulted you?"

He replied: "Technically yes, but I didn't make that allegation at the time."

"Had she shown you any sexual interest up to that point," the prosecutor continued.

Gabriel replied: "no."

Recorder Nicholas Syfret is due to summarise the case on Monday, before sending the jury out for deliberations.