A judge branded a serving police officer a “disgrace” as he sentenced him to 18 years and three months in prison for raping a girl under the age of 13.
James Ford, 31, of Hertfordshire Police, was found guilty of 10 counts of sexual abuse against the same child following an earlier trial at Cambridge Crown Court.
The judge in the case, Mr Justice Simon Bryan, described it as a “horrific catalogue of serious sexual offending against a young child”.
Ford, formerly of Bishop’s Stortford, was also found guilty of carrying out an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, in that he “deliberately wiped his phone by factory resetting his Samsung mobile phone”.
The judge said that jurors were satisfied that Ford had wiped his phone as he “knew or suspected material relating to the offences” was on it.
He said this was consistent with the girl’s evidence that Ford was “pointing (his) phone at her while acts of sexual abuse were going on”.
The judge described the girl’s evidence as “incredibly credible”, adding: “Her graphic descriptions of your offending are as harrowing as they are convincing.”
Addressing the defendant, the judge said: “As a serving police officer you, of all people, should have protected society against sexual abusers, and you acted as a perpetrator of such vile crimes yourself.”
He told Ford he was a “disgrace to your office”, adding that his conduct “overshadows the countless occasions when brave officers behave with honour and propriety, and demand the greatest of respect from the public”.
The judge sentenced Ford to 18 years and three months in prison with an extended licence period of one year.
The defendant must serve two thirds of the custodial term before he can be deemed eligible for release on licence.
He was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order until further order and given a restraining order in respect of the girl.
The bearded defendant showed no reaction as he was led to the cells.
Ford was found guilty of four counts of rape, four of sexual assault and two of causing or inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity.
The offences, which had been denied by the defendant, happened between 2019 and 2021.
Hertfordshire Police said Ford, who joined the force in December 2019 and was originally based in East Hertfordshire as a uniformed response officer, was suspended from duties last November.
The girl’s mother said, in a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor Isobel Ascherson: “You should be able to trust a police officer.”
She described Ford as a “disgusting excuse of a human being”, adding: “No prison sentence is ever going to be long enough for what happened.”
The woman described her child as a “sweet, innocent, chatty, friendly girl” but said that she is “no longer the happy, sociable girl she was before”.
“No child should have to go through what she has,” she said.
Fiona Robertson, mitigating, said Ford has no previous convictions.
“He has only himself to blame but these convictions mean he’s irrevocably lost his career,” she said, adding that his former career as a police officer and the “nature of the allegations will cause him difficulty in prison”.
Hertfordshire Police said that when allegations emerged, the case was independently investigated by specialist officers based within the Child Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit (CAISU) at Cambridgeshire Police.
The matter was also referred to police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, and the force’s Professional Standards Department.
Hertfordshire assistant chief constable Genna Telfer said she was “disgusted” by Ford’s actions, adding: “He will face a fast track hearing for dismissal.”