Serving police officer, 43, tried to rape woman he met in pub after showing warrant card

Ernesto Ceraldi showed his police warrant card to gain his victim's trust. (Lancashire Police)
Ernesto Ceraldi showed his police warrant card to gain his victim's trust. (Lancashire Police)

A serving police officer has been jailed for five years and four months after he admitted to attempting to rape a woman he had met at a pub.

Ernesto Ceraldi, 43, showed his warrant card to gain the woman’s trust before entering the woman’s home in Rossendale, Lancashire, in the early hours of 2 April.

The victim’s neighbour called police after hearing her screaming at 1.30am before spotting Ceraldi naked outside her house, Preston Crown Court previously heard.

Ceraldi, who has served 21 years with Greater Manchester Police, was off duty on a night out with friends when he met the victim on 1 April.

David Traynor, prosecuting, said Ceraldi told her he was a police officer and showed her photos of his police dog.

The victim invited him back to her home where they drank wine and engaged in consensual sexual activity, before sitting on the sofa and talking together.

David Traynor, prosecuting, said the victim described a stage when Ceraldi's attitude “changed all of a sudden” and he began to demand she perform a sexual act on him and grabbed her hair.

He pushed her against a wall, causing a picture to fall and smash, and put his hand around her throat, the court heard.

Traynor said: “The pressure was horrific, she nearly stopped breathing.”

He said Ceraldi repeatedly punched her and there was a struggle before she ran to the back door and escaped, being pursued by the defendant who was completely naked.

Ernesto Ceraldi was jailed for over five years at Preston Crown Court. (PA)
Ernesto Ceraldi was jailed for over five years at Preston Crown Court. (PA)

Traynor said: “She was absolutely terrified and she thought he was going to kill her.”

Outside, Ceraldi pinned her against a wall, where a neighbour heard her screaming and helped the victim into her house where they phoned police, the court heard.

The court heard Ceraldi was found by police sleeping naked on the sofa of his victim’s house, with his leg through the arm of a jacket.

Following the attack blood spatters were found on walls of the house and hair extensions which he had pulled from her head were found on the floor, Traynor said.

In a statement read to the court, the victim said: “As a police officer I should have been able to trust him without a shadow of a doubt. If I cannot trust a police officer with 21 years of service, who can I trust?”

Julian King, defending, said Ceraldi had a wife and two adult children.

He said: “The actions of the defendant were out of character, they were isolated in nature and engaged through, what must be an aggravating feature, the substantial consumption of alcohol.”

Ceraldi had previously been given commendations for his police work in the Salford riots in 2011 and at the Uefa Cup final in 2008, he said.

Judge Simon Medland QC said: “You and your victim had happily been in each other’s company and I have no doubt that your having mentioned you were a police officer and shown the victim pictures of your police dog must have filled her with confidence.”

He said Ceraldi, who had been consuming alcohol for a substantial period of time, lost his “self control” .

The judge said he behaved in a way which was “aggressive and coercive and violent” and included blunt force trauma and squeezing the victim’s throat.

He said: “It terrified the victim and she was in genuine fear for her life.”

The judge said he believed Ceraldi had shown genuine remorse and said a “very significant” feature of the case was that he pleaded guilty at a plea and trial preparation hearing, having previously denied the offences.

He said Ceraldi, of no fixed address, would be subject to sexual offence notification requirements for the rest of his life and to a restraining order.