A woman said she "should have been able to trust" a police officer who attacked and tried to rape her in her home, a court has heard.

Ernesto Ceraldi, from Darwen, who has now resigned from Greater Manchester Police, was jailed at Preston Crown Court this morning.

He was off duty on the night when he went back to the woman's house before attacking her.

Prosecuting, David Traynor said Ceraldi, who was a specialised dog handler, was off duty and with some friends in The Coach pub, Edenfield, on April 1 when he met his victim.

The woman was also with a group of her friends, and they all started chatting over a drink, with the victim describing Ceraldi as “charming”.

Ceraldi, who is married and has two adult children, told the victim he was a police officer and photos of his police dog which led him to gain her trust.

The pair decided to go back to her house and shared a bottle of wine before engaging in sexual activity, most of which had been consensual.

Lancashire Telegraph: The Coach pub in Edenfield. Pic: Google Street ViewThe Coach pub in Edenfield. Pic: Google Street View

The victim said she would try and stop Ceraldi when he was pulling on her hair, spitting on her and putting his hands on her throat.

He would stop for a while but then start again.

After this ended, the pair went back to sitting on the sofa together when Mr Traynor said that Ceraldi’s attitude suddenly changed.

Mr Traynor said: “She couldn’t understand why he was acting in that way. She told him to stop.”

He began demanding oral sex, grabbing her hair and pulling her towards him. He started slapping her before he put his hands around her neck and started strangling her.

Mr Traynor added: “The pressure was horrific, she nearly stopped breathing thinking ‘this is not good’.

“The defendant then started to punch her in the face and pushed her into the sofa.”

He kept asking for her to perform oral sex on him and she reminded him about his wife and children.

He pushed her onto the sofa with her head down on the cushions.

Mr Traynor said the victim was “absolutely terrified” and thought he was “going to kill her”.

After a struggle, she managed to push Ceraldi away and ran towards the door, grabbing her phone.

While scrambling to unlock the door, he managed to catch up with her and started to pull her hair again but she managed to escape the house in just her vest, followed by a naked Ceraldi.

Mr Traynor said: “She was screaming ‘help me help me’.

“Luckily, one of her neighbours heard her pleas and helped out.”

The neighbour brought the woman to safety and they called the police who found Ceraldi asleep on her sofa with his leg through the arm of a jacket.

Her blood was splattered across the apartment, which her friends later cleaned up for her, and the woman’s hair extensions on the floor.

In a victim personal statement read by Mr Traynor, the woman described how she is worried she will never be able to trust again.

The statement read: “Upon first meeting him, I found him to be very pleasant and charming – how very quickly that changed.

“Will I ever be able to trust someone again?

“As a police officer, I should have been able to trust him without a shadow of a doubt.

“If I can’t trust a police officer of 21 years, who can I trust.”

Ceraldi, of no fixed abode but from Darwen, had served 21 years with Greater Manchester Police before he resigned after admitting the offences.

The 44-year-old, represented by Julian King, said he was “ashamed, shocked and devastated” by his actions and was remorseful.

Mr King said: “The actions were deeply out of character.

"They were isolated in nature and engaged through the substantial consumption of alcohol.”

Mr King said Ceraldi had been having issues in his marriage at the time of the incident and he has since opened up to his wife and children about what he did.

Ceraldi had no previous convictions and had never received a disciplinary in his two-decade long career in the police.

While he was a serving officer, he had served at the UEFA 2008 cup final at the Etihad Stadium and the Salford riots in 2011.

Ceraldi pleaded guilty to attempted rape and assaulting the woman on May 4.

Judge Simon Medland QC said he believed Ceraldi’s remorse was genuine but that his actions on that night were “aggressive, coercive and violent”.

Judge Medland said: “You were a man of exemplary character – that is shown beyond doubt.

“This behaviour by you is therefore out of character. That having been said, this is a grossly serious set of offences.

“You and your victim had been in each other’s company and I have no doubt that your having mentioned being a police officer and showing her pictures of your police dog must have filled her with confidence.

“For a substantial period of time, nothing untoward occurred. You continued drinking and consensual sexual behaviour took place.

“Regrettably, during that towards its latter part, you lost your self-control and behaved in a way that was aggressive and coercive and violent.

“It terrified the victim and she was in genuine fear for her life.”

Judge Medland said the attack was “substantial and prolonged” as he jailed Ceraldi for five years and four months.

He has also been made subject to a sexual offender notification requirement for the rest of his life and a restraining order has been put in place to protect the victim.

Det Insp Carole Langhorn said: “This was an abhorrent crime committed against a woman in a place where she was entitled to feel safe.

"The appalling and sustained violence used by Ceraldi while the victim was in her own home – somewhere she was entitled to feel safe - was particularly shocking in this case.

“This offence – committed by a man she believed she could trust – has had a profound impact on her. I hope she can take some sense of comfort knowing that he is now behind bars.

"Even when Ceraldi is released he will be subjected to the notification requirements and will therefore be monitored by the authorities.

“We have carried out a thorough and detailed investigation to ensure Ceraldi is brought to justice and I would like to thank my colleagues, and those from the Crown Prosecution Service, for their professionalism throughout this case.

“Lancashire Police are committed to protecting women and girls from harm and investigating the perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes.

"We are very much victim-focussed and put the victim at the forefront of everything we are doing. We do not intrude into the personal life of the victim and will only look to obtain evidence that is pertinent and necessary to the investigation.

"For instance, we would only ask for a victim’s mobile phone if we believed it contained evidence relevant to the investigation and would only then download messages between the victim and the offender.

“I hope today’s outcome and having the knowledge of the sensitive and professional way that we approach our investigations will encourage other victims of sexual violence and abuse to come forward. They will be listened to, they will be believed and we will gather the evidence to put the perpetrator before the courts.”

Howard Gough, District Crown Prosecutor with CPS North West’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit said: “Ernesto Ceraldi carried out a vicious attack on a woman in her own home; a place where she should have been safe.

“I would like to commend her courage in coming forward and speaking about her ordeal, I hope that as Ceraldi begins this prison sentence she can begin to put the trauma behind her and start to move on with her life.

“The CPS are committed to prosecuting those who use violence to control and abuse women and hope this woman’s bravery inspires anyone who has suffered sexual or violent abuse to come forward and see their attackers brought to justice.”