19 June 2023

Serving Met officer raped stranger in sea after his stag do, court hears

19 June 2023

A serving Metropolitan Police officer raped a woman in the sea off Brighton beach after his stag do, a court heard.

Sergeant Laurence Knight, 34, is said to have met the woman, a stranger, in the early hours of July 17 2021 while on his stag do in the city centre.

Prosecutors say the pair walked to the beach together, undressed to their underwear and ended up in the sea, where sexual activity is said to have taken place.

Maryam Syed, prosecuting, said that while in the sea the woman said to the defendant, who the jury heard is sometimes called Larry, “you’re getting married in two weeks”.

After the alleged incident, a friend of the defendant said to the woman “Larry wants me to tell you that he’s sorry”, the prosecution added.

The defendant and his group left and the woman called the police before meeting officers nearby.

Ms Syed said: “Both this defendant and [the alleged victim] were previous strangers to each other, but bumped into each other in the early hours in Brighton town centre.

“[The alleged victim] was with her friends, they were intending to head to the beach area and had been drinking earlier and had bought a bottle of wine and were intending to share it at the sea front.

“The defendant was in Brighton on his stag night. They had been in an Airbnb property and had been visited by strippers, they had then gone out to the bars in the Brighton area.

“In July 2021, social distancing was still in place – many bars were not open or had closed early.

“The group had been in the course of looking for somewhere to drink, met the group containing [the alleged victim] and indicated they were looking for somewhere to drink. The defendant and his group were complaining about the lack of choice.

“[The alleged victim] suggested that the bars in the beach area might still be open. The two groups ended up walking to the seafront together.

“As they moved forward they were chatting, the defendant’s group were unfamiliar with the Brighton area.

“As the interaction between the groups continued you will see, because police obtained CCTV, [the alleged victim] was helping them, she was being friendly.

“At various points she shares a bottle of wine with the defendant and one of his friends. At various points she hugs the defendant and one of his friends.

“There’s a point that she and the defendant hold hands then stop and continue walking separately.”

The defendant and the woman then go to the seafront. In the alleged victim’s 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”, Miss Syed added.

The defendant looked like he was going to cry, the prosecution told the jury, so the woman said yes and took off her dress as she did not want it to get wet.

Knight moved behind the woman in the water then moved her underwear and that is when the alleged sexual activity took place, Ms Syed said.

The woman asked the defendant “what are you doing” and said “stop” and he did not reply, she said in her police interview.

“I said you’re getting married in two weeks, just stop, don’t do that, and he just didn’t stop,” the prosecution said reading from the woman’s police interview.

The prosecution said the woman was then raped. The woman said during the interview she said “stop” and “don’t” to the defendant and she did not move, she said she thought she was in shock.

The woman said the defendant then got out of the water, then the woman got out, put her dress back on and went to sit by a friend.

She said: “I didn’t say anything and then the guy who I was in the sea with, his friend came over to me and said ‘oh Larry, Larry wants me to tell you that he’s sorry, Larry wants to say like, sorry’.

“I didn’t look up at him, I didn’t want to engage with any of them.”

The woman said she then told her friend what happened and called 999, the prosecution added.

Knight was arrested on July 28 2021 and provided a prepared statement in which he said the woman was being “flirtatious with all of them”. He said she suggested they go into the sea and said she reached behind and touched his genitals and said he did not penetrate her.

The defendant returned for a second interview on January 5 2022 and provided another prepared statement saying he moved her underwear and it was consensual, but then she said “aren’t you getting married” and he stopped.

The prosecution said the defendant “took advantage of this young woman who was clearly in drink”.

Knight, of Albert Road, Leyton, Waltham Forest, east London, who the Met said has been suspended from duty, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court where he denies charges of rape and sexual assault.

The trial continues.

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