Gwent Police officer accused of abuse told young girl he was ‘lonely’, court told
A serving police officer told a young girl he is alleged to have abused that he was lonely and wanted a girlfriend, a court has heard.
John Stringer, 41, who works for Gwent Police in south-east Wales is on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting the girl who is under 13, causing or inciting her to engage in sexual activity and causing her to watch a sexual act.
Giving evidence at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday, the girl’s father told the court how his daughter had described having “inappropriate” conversations with the defendant.
He told prosecutor Ian Wright: “There has been occasions where she has come to us and said how John has told her things about his private life that we thought were a little bit not quite right for a young girl.
“(She) told us how John told her that he was lonely.
“He would also talk to (her) about how he didn’t get on well with his ex-mother-in-law, which we thought was inappropriate for a young girl.”
The girl’s mother also gave evidence on Tuesday and told the jury: “She would say that he’d said he wanted a girlfriend and that he missed his previous partner.
“She would say to me that he would chat to her about his loneliness and that… he was lonely without a girlfriend, and I would say you don’t need to have those conversations it’s not really appropriate.
“I would query why an adult will tell a small child that they were lonely,” she added.
The parents said that although they felt uncomfortable hearing about the conversations between their daughter and the defendant they did not confront him.
The court previously heard how the allegations came to light after the girl made a disclosure to a teaching assistant.
In a statement written by the aide and read to the court by Mr Wright she said the girl had approached her in the playground and told her “John sits next to me and puts a blanket over me and puts his hand here”.
“She said he showed her videos as well.”
She added: “I did not ask any leading questions but I did ask her if she had told her mum and dad and she said she hadn’t.
“I asked how long it had been going on for and she said ‘quite a while’.”
The jury previously watched the girl’s interview with police during which she told an officer that Stringer had touched her inappropriately under a blanket and her clothing and would show her pornographic videos with half-naked women in them and ask her to “mimic” the actions of the performers.
She told them there had been a break in the alleged offending during two of the Covid-19 lockdowns and that when the restrictions eased the sexual abuse resumed.
A transcript of Stringer’s police interview in which he repeatedly denied the girl’s account of events was read to the court by Mr Wright and the officer in the case (OIC) Detective Constable Abbie Voice.
The final witness of the day was a friend of the defendant’s who said she had known him for 24 years but had lost contact with him for time when he moved to New Zealand to play rugby.
The woman, who works as a mental health care practitioner, told the court: “He’s always been quieter.
“He’s always been a private man.
“He’s very focused and motivated and very into his sports.”
She added that she had “no concern at all” about Stringer’s behaviour around children.
Stringer, who is from Cardiff and was known to the girl, has pleaded not guilty to all five charges against him.
The charges in total include two counts of sexual assault by touching, two counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and one count of causing a child to watch a sexual act and are said to have taken place between December 2019 and July 2021.
The trial continues.
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