This pedophile law enforcement officer spotted groping a ‘vulnerable’ 13-year-old girl in her school uniform after grooming her online was today jailed for 21 months.
PC Andrew Gouge, 34, had just passed his Sergeant’s exam when passers-by realized he and the youngster were not father and daughter and raised the alarm.
He first met the victim on an internet chatroom and, after exchanging Blackberry Messenger details, they met up on a number of occasions, usually in public parks.
Kathy Hirst, prosecuting, told Woolwich Crown Court: ‘It seems that they made contact towards the beginning of this year because by February they had swapped Blackberry Messenger pins in order for them to be able to contact each other in that way, and also they were emailing each other.’
The court heard Gouge, who is estranged from his wife, had never sought to hide his real age from his victim, but visited the chatrooms under the pseudonym ‘Josh Little’.
During the course of law enforcement interviews, the victim, now 14, told officers that she had met Gouge on four occasions in parks in Orpington, Kent.
Ms Hirst said: ‘Most of the time, she said, they spent talking, on the third meeting there had been some physical contact including kissing.’
She told how on the fourth meeting, members of the public spotted the pair and called the cops after becoming concerned about the nature of their relationship.
Ms Hirst continued: ‘Clearly on that occasion the activity was witnessed by others, they had been kissing, and also that he was observed to have his hand up her school skirt, and resting under her skirt.’
One witness said she had thought the pair were father and daughter before noticing that they were behaving awkwardly.
Ms Hirst said: ‘She went home and called her father who suggested that she should phone the police if she was unhappy and perhaps take a further look.’
After going back to see Gouge and the young girl ‘snogging’ with his hand up her skirt, the woman called the law enforcers.
Another witness saw the same scene moments later after hearing schoolchildren talking about seeing a girl in school uniform kissing an older man.
Two officers who had been on patrol in Bromley arrived at the scene and caught Gouge in an embrace with the 13-year-old.
‘He was in fact recognized by one of the officers as being a local officer,’ said Ms Hirst.
Both the pedophile and the girl initially told officers they had only met that day with the Gouge claiming the youngster had come across him ‘lying in a field’.
However, after further investigations officers discovered the truth and went to the young girl’s house to speak to her.
Ms Hirst said: ‘She said that he had sent a picture of him with no top on and she said that she had sent him a picture of her bottom that was partly covered by a t-shirt.’
She also reluctantly revealed that they’d had sexually explicit conversations which had involved him asking for oral sex.
Sentencing Gouge to 21 months imprisonment, Judge David Tomlinson said: ‘You were a serving police officer at the time of those offenses.
‘Indeed you been in the police force for some 10-and-a-half years and I accept, as I am told, about your service in general.
‘You had the status of Acting Police Sergeant by the time of these unhappy events. Your police station at Bromley was local to where you met this child.
‘It seems that she was already in a fragile and vulnerable state when you made contact with her.’
He added: ‘Though there was no particular relationship with the girl and you owed her no specific duty of care, you were in a position of trust within the community as a whole.’
Gouge, of Grays, Essex, admitted one count of meeting a child following sexual grooming and sexual activity with a child.
Dressed in a maroon t-shirt and jogging bottoms, Gouge sat with his arms crossed and showed no reaction as his sentence was read. He is currently suspended from the Met and is facing disciplinary proceedings.
Detective Chief Inspector Pete Thomas, of the Met’s Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said: ‘Andrew Gouge has shown himself to be someone who has targeted, groomed and exploited a vulnerable young child for his own sexual needs.
‘His conduct has caused significant harm and the investigation highlights the need to remain vigilant to the risks posed by social media and the internet in order to safeguard children.
‘The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to protecting children and bringing sexual predators like Gouge to justice.’
Commander Allan Gibson, the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, said: ‘Gouge signed up to protect and serve his community; but seriously failed in that commitment and has caused untold harm to the victim, her family and his own friends and colleagues.
‘He has tarnished the reputation of both the organisation and his colleagues. All members of the police service are expected to behave impeccably whilst on and off duty. Gouge did no such thing.’
Gouge will also be subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and a Restraining Order.