28 July 2023

Former Met officer jailed for sexually assaulting woman in sea after stag do

28 July 2023

A former Metropolitan Police officer has been jailed for sexually assaulting a woman in the sea following his stag do.

Ex-sergeant Laurence Knight, 34, is said to have met the woman, a stranger, in Brighton city centre in the early hours of July 17 2021.

Prosecutors said they walked to the beach together, stripped down to their underwear and ended up in the sea, where sexual activity took place.

Knight, of Leyton, east London, was charged with rape and sexual assault following the incident, and denied both charges.

He was found not guilty of rape by a jury at Southwark Crown Court in June but convicted of sexual assault.

He was jailed for two years at the same court on Friday and will be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

A restraining order was also put in place barring him from contacting the complainant.

Knight had been suspended from the Met and he has now left the force.

A misconduct hearing has been scheduled for August 3 to determine whether he acted in gross misconduct and if dismissal would have been justified.

In July 2021 the woman had been out for dinner and drinks and was with a friend when they came across a “jovial” group of men who seemed confused about where to go, as they were on a night out and the pubs were closing, the court heard.

In her police interview she told officers Knight wanted to go into the sea and she did not wish to but he persuaded her, telling her “it was his stag night, he was meant to be having fun but it was turning into a rubbish night”.

Jurors heard that the defendant looked as though he was going to cry so the woman said yes and took off her dress because she did not want it to get wet.

Knight went behind the woman in the water and moved her underwear, which is when the alleged sexual activity took place, the court was told.

The woman said she “repeatedly” told Knight to “stop” and reminded him that he was “getting married in two weeks”, jurors heard.

Afterwards, jurors heard, the woman got dressed, told her friend what had happened and called 999.

She claimed a friend of the defendant told her: “Larry wants me to tell you that he’s sorry.”

She said she has experienced a range of feelings since that night, including feeling sick and being unable to sleep or eat properly.

In his evidence to the jury, Knight claimed it was the woman who suggested going into the sea and she who first touched his penis.

He said he then touched her vagina for a few seconds, thinking it was consensual, before she made the comment about his imminent wedding and they returned to the shore. He denied he had any intention to penetrate her.

Asked during cross-examination why he went into the sea with her, he replied: “Quite honestly, I quite enjoyed having the attention. It was a very spur-of-the-moment request from her, it was not discussed before.

“Having had some alcohol and being the stag and being the one that everything was deflected towards, I suppose the phrase is ‘peer pressure’.”

Asked who the peer pressure was coming from, Knight said: “I may have applied it myself.”

The court heard that he tried to send the woman a Facebook message on July 21 that year, saying: “You are not (the woman) that went for a dip in the sea on Friday whilst her guy friend looked after her bag?”

The defendant, who worked for a charity and as a teacher before joining the police, told jurors he had sent the message “to acknowledge I was embarrassed. She was younger, perhaps less mature, and she was the one that stepped in and stopped it going any further”.

He said he later deleted the message because he became worried that his fiancee would see it.

He also told jurors his “initial reaction” to his arrest was believing he was being subjected to “an extended prank from the stag do”.

Jayne Cioffi from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “As a police officer Knight clearly understood the concept of consent and realised that, without consent, he would be committing a sexual assault, but set what he knew aside for his own selfish reasons.

“He persuaded his victim to go into the water with him and then callously took advantage of a woman he had just met.

“It was immediately clear to her friend as soon as she came out of the sea that something terrible had happened. She called the police immediately and, when officers arrived at the scene, they found her crying and hyperventilating.

“Knight said he had just wanted a bit of last minute fun on his stag night but his actions have had a devastating impact on his victim and, as a police officer, he would have been only too well aware of that.

“I would like to thank the complainant for reporting what had happened to her.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox