A disgraced rapist police officer claimed to have been looking at indecent images of children – to help him with post-traumatic stress.

Former traffic cop Richard Hale, 41, was handed a seven year jail sentence in 2016 for raping a woman after overpowering her in his bedroom in Carterton in 2001 – two years before he joined Thames Valley Police.

He continues to maintain his innocence to the charge.

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On Thursday (April 27), Oxford Crown Court heard that Hale was released from prison on licence in April 2020, within weeks of the first national lockdown being imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mitigating, Lyall Thompson told Judge Ian Pringle KC: “All found that [lockdown] very difficult to come to terms with.

"It must have been even harder for someone who had been in custody for approximately three-and-a-half years.”

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His client had described it as like ‘going from one type of prison to another’, Mr Thompson said.

A former roads policing officer who had seen crashes on a ‘regular basis’, he suffered from ‘significant post-traumatic stress disorder’, the court was told.

He experienced nightmares, headaches and ‘intrusive thoughts’.

It was suggested that this was one of the reasons why he was looking at indecent images of children.

A small number of child sex abuse images in categories A to C were found on his digital devices together with prohibited images of children and extreme pornography.

Sentencing, Judge Pringle told Hale: “You say that you started to access images because it would deal with the pain you felt from some of the trauma you underwent when you were serving as a police officer.

“I frankly find that explanation difficult but I’ve read a report about you; a trauma therapy report. You went and got trauma therapy off your own back; at least that says something about you.”


He said: “Make no bones about it, by accessing these images you create a market and that market then takes young children and has them grotesquely abused for your pleasure.

“I hope that you remember that if you are ever tempted to look at such images again.”

Hale, of Peel Place, Carterton, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to possession of indecent and prohibited images of children and possession of extreme pornography.

The judge imposed 16 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years. Hale must do 120 hours of unpaid work and sex offender rehabilitation programmes.

When Hale was sentenced in 2016, then deputy chief constable - now chief constable - Jason Hogg said: "There is no place in the force for those who commit offences of this nature."

The force said it was unable to provide a photograph of Hale as it claimed it did not have one.