Police inspector sexually assaulted two female colleagues at Christmas party

A police inspector who sexually assaulted two female colleagues at a drunken Christmas party has been handed a suspended jail term.

CCTV showed Lee Morgan, 46, was dressed in a red Mickey Mouse Christmas jumper when he squeezed the women’s buttocks while they were in a pub in Yarm, Teesside, in December 2021.

The ex-control room inspector admitted two counts of sexual assault and was handed a six-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, as well as having to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

Newcastle Crown Court was told the married father-of-three had to resign from Cleveland Police after 23 years as an officer, having an unblemished career up to this point with a number of commendations for his work.

Morgan, from Ingleby Barwick, Teesside, was the most senior officer present at the night out when he groped the two women, named only as witnesses A and B.

Witness A felt two or three taps on her buttocks but when she turned around she said no-one was there.

John Harley, prosecuting, said: “She assumed the defendant had been responsible for the touching, he had been behaving in a loud and over-friendly manner.”

She felt annoyed, “like a line had been crossed”, the court was told.

She later saw the defendant with witness B and thought he was being over-familiar with her as well, Mr Harley said.

Pub CCTV also caught Morgan squeezing witness B’s buttocks.

Neither of his victims supported the prosecution, and neither said they had suffered psychological harm as a result of what he did, the court heard.

The events of the night out were passed on to police supervision and an investigation was launched, leading to him being charged.

Morgan offered guilty pleas on the basis that he had no recollection of committing the offences, having drunk a significant amount that night.

Jane Waugh, defending, read references which said Morgan’s behaviour that night was out of character and that he had lost his career in public service during which he had displayed “exemplary conduct”.

Miss Waugh said: “This is truly a fall from grace, this is a man who had an excellent career and was very well thought of.

“He has now lost his good character.”

Morgan had taken measures to control his drinking, his barrister said.

He felt shame for what he did and he had a five-day stay in hospital after attempting suicide, Miss Waugh said.

Judge Sarah Mallett said: “I have read character references on your behalf and it is clear your behaviour on this evening was totally out of character.”

A police disciplinary hearing in November found Morgan was guilty of gross misconduct, and had he not already resigned he would have been dismissed.

The hearing barred him from working as an officer again.