Policeman guilty of misconduct over 'inappropriate' behaviour towards girls

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A police officer has been warned he faces a prison sentence after he was found guilty of two counts of misconduct in public office in connection with "inappropriate" behaviour towards two teenage girls.

Pc Keith Burgess was convicted at Guildford Crown Court with regards to his "sexualised" messages and actions towards two girls in 2014 and 2015 while working as a neighbourhood officer in Southampton, Hampshire.

The judge, Jonathan Black, ordered the jury to find him not guilty due to insufficient evidence of sending sexually explicit messages, three counts of sexual assault, a child grooming offence and two child pornography offences.

But the jury was left to consider the three counts of misconduct in public office of which they found him guilty of two counts relating to two girls.

The 42-year-old closed his eyes as the unanimous verdicts were announced.

He was cleared of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old in the kitchen of her home while her mother sat in the next room.

But he was found guilty by the jury of misconduct in relation to his behaviour towards her.

He was also found guilty of misconduct for sending "flirtatious" messages to a 17-year-old girl and asking for pictures of her in return.

Burgess denied any sexual motive behind sending money to a third girl, aged 15, and said it had been to "help her out" financially. He was cleared of misconduct and grooming in relation to her.

The defendant told the court he had a "very crude" sense of humour and some of the messages he had sent to the girls were "immature" but he had not intended to follow through with the suggested behaviour.

Judge Black released Burgess on conditional bail until he is sentenced on June 30.

He told him: "You have been convicted of two matters, you are a man of previous good character and you must realise you face a prison sentence for these matters.

"That means I need a report from the Probation Service both on the impact of a prison sentence and the probable length of such a sentence.

"I am going to ask the Probation Service to provide me with that report."

Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen, of Hampshire Police, said in a statement: "Keith Burgess was considered by the communities he served to be a trusted and respected police officer who was held in the highest regard.

"Many of the families he met in the course of his policing duty looked to him for help and support during their times of need.

"They welcomed him into their homes and trusted him to help, but he betrayed that trust in the most appalling way.

"We demand the highest standards from all our police officers and staff and the public can rightly expect us to robustly investigate any abuse of their position of power.

"There is no place in policing for those who ignore their professional duty and moral responsibility."