Police officer Stephen Hardy jailed for 26 years for raping a child

A police officer has been jailed for 26 years for raping and sexually assaulting a child.

DC Stephen Hardy of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) used his teenage victim as a "puppet or sex object", Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said during his sentencing on Wednesday.

The 46-year-old was found guilty of 20 offences, including six of rape, following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Trevor-Jones said: "You have never shown one iota of remorse for your behaviour.

"The indictment reflects a highly calculated and cynical course of grooming behaviour."

He described the detective constable as having a "devious" personality with a "sinister streak".

He added: "You have been a long-serving police officer. That is a career which will now inevitably end.

"You would have been well aware of the widespread and lasting trauma that victims of sexual abuse suffer and yet you gave no thought to that and that is an aggravating factor."

The judge said he considered the defendant to be dangerous and sentenced him to an extended licence period of six years.

Vanessa Thomson, prosecuting, said the victim, who was in court with members of her family during the hearing, reported the abuse to police in 2020.

She described the defendant as "a controlling and manipulative man".

In a statement which was read to the court, the victim said she was not sure she would ever be able to fully trust members of law enforcement.

She said: "I maintain a deep fear of authority figures, despite overcoming that fear to report these crimes. His position in the Greater Manchester Police force has deeply affected me."

She said the abuse had permanently affected her mental health and left her scared for her future.

Laura Nash, defending, said Hardy continued to deny all the offences and that he would "inevitably" find his prison sentence "harder than most" because he was a police officer.

A woman said "love you" as Hardy, wearing a grey suit, was taken down from the dock.

Following Hardy's conviction in July, GMP said he was suspended from duty and would face disciplinary proceedings.

Head of the force's Professional Standards Branch Detective Chief Superintendent Mike Allen said: "Given Hardy contested the indictment he faced at the crown court, we were unable to proceed with hearing such matters within the regulated police disciplinary system. He was nevertheless suspended from GMP.

"Now that Hardy has been convicted, he will face disciplinary proceedings, and as the public would rightly expect, he will not be paid a wage by GMP during the time it takes for his case to be heard."