Met police officer found guilty of sexually assaulting woman on Brighton stag do two weeks before wedding

29 June 2023, 15:00 | Updated: 29 June 2023, 15:12

Laurence Knight was found guilty of sexual assault, but not guilty of rape
Laurence Knight was found guilty of sexual assault, but not guilty of rape. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

A Metropolitan Police officer has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a stranger in the sea while on his stag-do in Brighton a fortnight before his wedding.

But Sergeant Laurence Knight, 34, was found not guilty of rape at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

He had denied both charges, claiming that his sexual contact with a woman he had met that night was consensual.

But was convicted of sexual assault by a majority of 10:2 after the jury deliberated for more than seven hours.

Knight, of Leyton in east London, had spent the evening with friends being entertained by strippers at an Airbnb to celebrate his stag do in July 2021.

Afterwards, Knight and his stag group went drinking with the 21-year-old woman on Brighton beach after meeting her in the city.

Read more: Spying by undercover Met Police officers on left-wing groups was 'unjustified', inquiry finds

Read more: Officers need to turn up to more crimes - and the idea of a police state in the UK is ‘nonsense,’ says police watchdog

Laurence Knight
Laurence Knight. Picture: Alamy

At the time, Covid restrictions were still in place, meaning many bars were shut.

Shortly afterwards, Knight, who is based at Stoke Newington police station in North London, persuaded the girl into joining him in the sea, after telling her he was having a "rubbish night".

Read more: Baroness Lawrence calls for ‘serious sanctions’ against Met officers who failed to investigate suspect in son's murder

Read more: Female Met police staffer 'woke up with colleague's penis in her mouth' after he 'smoked cannabis he stole from a raid'

Brighton beach is a popular tourist hotspot
Brighton beach is a popular tourist hotspot. Picture: Alamy

Maryam Syed, prosecuting, told the court earlier that Knight: "took advantage of this young woman who was clearly in drink."

Ms Syed said: "[The woman] tells police that when they get to the sea front, the defendant wanted to go into the sea, and she did not wish to do that.But he sought to persuade her, by telling her that it was his stag night, he was meant to be having fun, but it was turning into a rubbish night.

"She explained to police that he looked like he was going to cry, so she then relented and said yes.

"She did not wish to get her dress wet, so she went into the water wearing her underwear. She was not touching the defendant nor was he touching her at that point, they were simply treading water in the same area of the sea."

Read more: Handcuffed man, 25, guilty of murdering Met Police sergeant Matt Ratana with revolver in London police station

Sketch of Knight in court
Sketch of Knight in court. Picture: Alamy

The victim said in her police interview: "I was facing away from the shore and he kind of came up behind me and so we were both facing the same direction and he was behind me.

"I just remember it being really uncomfortable and it really hurt. I just said to him 'What', like, 'what are you doing, stop' and he didn't."

"He didn't reply to me at any point. He was just completely silent and I just kept saying, I literally just kept repeating: 'Don't', like 'What are you doing?'

"I said, 'You're getting married in two weeks. Just stop, don't do that' and he just didn't stop."

A member of Knight's group came up to the victim after the assault and said: "Oh, Larry [Knight's nickname] wants me to tell you that he's sorry."

Knight on his way to court
Knight on his way to court. Picture: Alamy

After Knight left, the complainant told her friends: "I think I need to call the police. It is an emergency, I don't really know."

Knight had claimed that the woman had first touched his genitals, before he touched hers for a few seconds. He said that she had reminded him about his upcoming wedding, at which point that they had returned to the beach.

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".

He was arrested on July 28 last year and was suspended from duties while the investigation took place. The Met have referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, and a misconduct hearing will take place.

Knight's sentencing date is yet to be fixed.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Jeremy Hunt was made Chancellor by Liz Truss

Jeremy Hunt says he is ‘trying to achieve the same things as Liz Truss’ and ‘denies long-term effects of mini-budget’

Drink-driving limits in England are set at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood

Doctors call for drink-drive limit to be cut to one beer or single glass of wine as BMA launches campaign

Phillips headshot

Mystery of 'Bushman' dad-of-three who went missing with children - before robbing bank at gunpoint

The PM accused Sir Keir of trying to "entrench his power" by lowering the voting age

Rishi Sunak accuses Keir Starmer of only wanting to lower voting age to 'entrench his power'

Pressure signals could be used to locate the missing plane

Major breakthrough in MH370 mystery as nuclear sensor picks up crucial sound

Sir Ian McKellen was taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen 'in good spirits' and expected to make 'speedy and full recovery' after falling off stage

Sir Ian McKellen has been taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen rushed to hospital after falling off stage during West End performance

Dario G star Paul Spencer

Dario G star Paul Spencer dies aged 53 following cancer diagnosis

Reform chairman Richard Tice was speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr.

'Take them back to France': Reform will have 'standoff' with French over illegal migrants if needed, says Richard Tice

The teen was helping cut the tree down as a summer job.

Pictured: Boy, 16, crushed by 30ft tree just a day after finishing final GCSE exam - as three arrested

Police hunt 21-year-old man following death of boy, 12 in shocking hit-and-run

Manhunt for Coventry hit-and-run suspect continues following death of boy, 12, as police urge public to 'do the right thing'

Parts of the UK face severe rainfall next week, dramatic weather maps suggest

Thunderstorms set to drench Britain with 10 days worth of rain failing in just three hours

Fury erupted after the cow was rammed by a police car

Let us not be hypocrites when we look at the shocking case of the runaway cow

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

Prince William seen at a procession for the annual Garter Day service

William beams during Order of the Garter procession as royals join King and Queen at Windsor Castle

The parkour runner damaged the UNESCO World Heritage Site building in Italy in a parkour stunt

Shocking footage captures parkour runner damaging UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy