BREAKING NEWS: Police officer acquitted of raping 17-year-old girl while on duty

PC Declan Gabriel has been acquitted of a rape charge and two offences of sexual assault
PC Declan Gabriel has been acquitted of a rape charge and two offences of sexual assault

A Northampton police officer has been cleared of rape and two counts of sexual assault after a jury returned a not guilty verdict.

PC Declan Gabriel, based at Mereway police station, was acquitted by a jury of seven men and five women on the charges of rape and sexual assault.

The jury in the case of PC Declan Gabriel was later discharged after failing to agree on a verdict on the charge of misconduct in a public office. The prosecution has 14 days to decide whether to seek a retrial.

During the trial last week Northampton Crown Court heard how the alleged victim needed to be found a place to sleep that morning after having an argument with her mother.

PC Gabriel, who was driving a single-crewed vehicle at the time, was accused of driving the girl to two lay-bys in the county and sexually assaulting her between around 4am and 6am.

But during the trial Gabriel maintained that he was "technically" the victim of sexual assault himself.

He said that while waiting in a lay-by near Milton Malsor Crematorium, he reclined the driver's seat and undid his trouser zip to remove his boxer shorts, which he said, were trapped uncomfortably.

It is at this moment he said the alleged victim reached inside his trousers. He then said he drove back to Mereway police station.