'Sex pest' police sergeant sent nearly 500 texts to woman who reported crime

12 May 2021, 14:52 | Updated: 12 May 2021, 20:36

The ex-policeman barraged the woman with hundreds of messages, the court heard
The ex-policeman barraged the woman with hundreds of messages, the court heard. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A "sex pest" police sergeant bombarded a woman with nearly 500 unsolicited WhatsApp messages years after the pair last spoke when she reported a crime, a court has heard.

Married policeman Syed Ali, 46, sent hundreds of texts to the woman during a 10-week period beginning in May 2020.

It was the first time they had spoken in five years and was followed by the ex-copper barraging the victim with a raft of messages and a picture of a topless Asian female.

The woman did not initially recognise Ali, from Dagenham, east London, but she demanded he stopped contacting her after working out he was a police officer she had previously met.

However, the defendant continued to send her texts of a sexual nature, including around 450 messages between 13 and 23 July last year.

The 46-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of harassment without violence and on Wednesday was handed a suspended prison sentence at Westminster Magistrates' Court, where the judge accused him of undermining faith in the police.

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Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring told Ali: "You only had contact with this complainant because of your role as a police officer.

"You abused that trust.

"It undermines public confidence and there is a risk that people will stop reporting crime.

"If she (the victim) is in the position again, she may think twice about reporting a crime to police if she thinks that in five years' time that officer will become a sex pest - because that's what you were."

The judge added that the 46-year-old's contact with the victim was "repeated, sustained, and had sexual undertones".

He was handed a six-week sentence, suspended for 18 months, was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and was handed a three-year restraining order not to contact the woman.

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Ali, who had served as an officer for 19 years, has since resigned from the Metropolitan Police.

Prosecutor David Roberts said Ali sent messages from his work phone which were "unreciprocated" and left his victim feeling anxious and vulnerable. The 46-year-old later deleted the texts.

Mr Roberts said: "She inquired, initially, who the defendant was. She referred to the defendant as creepy, and told him he shouldn't be contacting her."

In her victim impact statement, the woman - who was not thought to have been a direct victim of crime when she initially contacted police in 2015 - said: "Police are meant to look after the public, not make them feel uncomfortable."

In mitigation, the court heard that Ali's father had fallen ill at the time he began contacting the woman again and that the majority of the messages were sent after he had died.

The court heard that Ali is supported by his wife and is now looking for work.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman said: “The way in which Ali conducted himself is utterly shocking.

“This type of conduct has absolutely no place in the organisation and we are committed to bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.”