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Police officer found not guilty of raping woman in Plymouth while on duty

A police sergeant has been found not guilty of raping a vulnerable woman after going to her home to take a statement after a domestic incident.

David Stansbury, 43, who was a Devon and Cornwall officer at the time, was accused of attacking the woman on three occasions in Plymouth 2009 and telling her: “I am the law.”

During a three-week trial at Bristol crown court, the woman said she was too frightened at the time to report Stansbury, believing that as a drug and alcohol user she risked having her children removed.

The rape allegations emerged when she was in the back of a police van after being arrested at a disturbance in 2020. Explaining why she had not gone to police earlier, she told detectives: “I felt ashamed of myself, I felt helpless, what could I do?”

Stansbury, of Ilminster, Somerset, was found not guilty of three counts of rape between 23 October and 30 November 2009.

He told the court that he did not rape the woman and said he did not remember her or the domestic incident.

The jury also heard that the complainant believed Stansbury had a birthmark or tattoo on the inside of his leg. Stansbury said this was not the case and he had shown the interviewing officer in 2020 that he did not have one.

Virginia Cornwall, prosecuting, alleged GPS data suggested he had returned to the complainant’s street multiple times.

The officer said he may have been on the alleged victim’s street after the domestic incident to “provide reassurance” to her and the community through an increased police presence.

Stansbury, who is now a Hertfordshire officer, told the court he believed he was a victim, adding: “She’s told a complete lie that’s completely ruined my life.”

He was cleared after the jury deliberated for six hours and 48 minutes. Judge William Hart thanked the jury, calling it a “demanding and tense trial for everybody concerned”. Stansbury appeared emotional as he left the courtroom.

Devon and Cornwall assistant chief constable Jim Pearce said: “We note the verdicts from the court and the acquittal of David Stansbury following reports of rape. We do not underestimate how difficult this matter has been for all of those involved in this case.”

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