A DISGRACED police officer who kissed and groped a vulnerable domestic abuse victim and ‘groomed’ others has been jailed for two years after being found guilty of misconduct in public office.

A jury of five men and seven women took less than three hours to unanimously convict PC Ihsan Ali on four counts of misconduct in public office in relation to four women after a seven-day trial at Preston Crown Court.

Judge Mark Brown, the Honorary Recorder of Preston, told Ali that his 'campaign of grooming and manipulative conduct for a sexual purpose' had damaged the reputation of Lancashire Police and undermined the public's trust in it.

Judge Brown said: "Over a period of many months there was a campaign of grooming and manipulative conduct for a sexual purpose. There can be no doubt the women's tryst in the police will have been adversely affected. On hearing about the case there can be little doubt the public's trust will have been significantly undermined. The police always require the support of the public to do its job effectively and you have tarnished the reputation of Lancashire Police."

Ali, who worked as an immediate response officer in Blackburn and Burnley until his arrest and subsequent suspension last year, will now face internal disciplinary proceedings later this year.

During the trial the jury was told how 40-year-old Ali initially went to the homes of his four female victims to legitimately investigate complaints they had made about being the victims of crime.

But in each case Ali, who lives in Cotman Close, Bacup, gave the complainants his personal mobile phone number and began sending them inappropriate texts with the intention of developing ‘emotional or sexual relationships’.

Prosecuting, Sarah Johnston said Ali sent his victims photographs of himself in a swimming pool, told one he wanted to be her bodyguard and told another he was looking for a new wife and she would make a good one.

Ms Johnston said: “It is through his role as a police constable that he came into contact with each of these four women. The particular circumstances of each of them being the victim of crime is what he used to initiate and further justify communication with them. He then takes advantage of their vulnerability to pursue emotional and sexual relationships with them.

“The public expects and deserves to have trust and confidence in their police officers and when police officers abuse their position for a sexual purpose, particularly in respect of vulnerable people, such behaviour does represent a fundamental betrayal of the public and the values for which the police service stands.”

The court heard how Ali went to the first complainant’s house in Burnley in May 2016 in relation to threats she had received from a former work colleague.

Ms Johnston said Ali texted the woman with updates on her case for around a week after the initial visit. But the prosecutor said Ali continued to message her on WhatsApp from his personal mobile until November 2016, which the victim thought was ‘strange’ and showed he was ‘after something more’.

In texts Ali sent he told the woman she ‘looked mmmm’ and that she was a ‘wonderful woman’.

She texted a friend saying: “How do you end up being stalked by someone when you go to make a complaint?”

In September 2016 Ali went with a colleague to investigate an allegation that her former partner of one of the complainants had breached his restraining order. The court heard Ali initially messaged the woman to keep her updated on the progress of her case but then started contacting her on his personal mobile number.

Ms Johnston said: “He told her he was looking for a new wife. He told her she would make a good wife.”

The court heard that in October 2016 Ali went to the home of an older woman in Whitworth who had made a complaint against her ex-partner.

After exchanging hundreds of text messages with the woman off his personal mobile phone, Ali went to the complainant’s house. After sharing a mutual kiss, Ali is said to have groped the woman and made sexually suggestive comments. When the woman asked him to leave Ali kissed her again.

In her statement to the police, the victim said she felt as if Ali had groomed her and had asked her to send photographs of herself to him.

The court heard Ali went to the final victim’s house in March 2017 to investigate an allegation of domestic violence.

After initially messaging her off his work phone to keep her updated about her case, Ali is said to have began sending her inappropriate messages on his work phone, including messages about using contraception.

One message read: “Even if there was a little trouble I reckon you would definitely be worth it.”

He also sent the victim photographs of himself in a swimming pool.

Ali, who is married, was arrested at the victim’s house after she had invited him round to confront him about his inappropriate behaviour.

In her opening statement Ms Johnston said Ali accepts he sent the women text messages but said his behaviour didn’t amount to misconduct.

Ali pleaded not guilty to four counts f misconduct in judicial or public office between May 26, 2016, and April 8, 2017.

He declined to take the stand to give evidence in the trial but he did call up three former colleagues as character witnesses.

Defending, Mark Monaghan said his client had always accepted his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct but not the criminal offence of misconduct in public office. He also said the conviction represented a 'huge fall from grace' for Ali and that at the time of his offending he was having problems with his marriage and conceiving a child.

Mr Monaghan said: "It is right that a police officer going into prison, not withstanding his physical size, sees the prospect of a custodial sentence understandably with a degree of trepidation."

Speaking after the hearing, Deputy Chief Constable Sunita Gamblin said: “Firstly I would like to thank and commend the victims in this case for having the bravery to come forward and report these allegations to us. Today’s outcome would not have been possible without them.

“Ali used his position to target women he knew were vulnerable and contacted them with the sole motive of trying to establish a sexual relationship with them.

“The public expect and deserve the Police Service to be professional and focussed on keeping people safe, especially those who are most vulnerable. Here is an example of an officer who has overwhelmingly breached the position of trust placed upon him. He has totally undermined the Police Service and the excellent work the vast majority of officers and staff do every day. “The abuse of position for a sexual purpose is defined by the Independent Office of Police Conduct as serious corruption and there is absolutely no place for such people in Lancashire Constabulary. We are committed to identifying, exposing and removing those who seek to exploit vulnerable members of our community and will continue to pursue criminal charges where appropriate.”