Police officer Nick Lidstone was this month jailed for admitting a string of child rape and sex offences but the court heard that he kept his job eight years ago despite being caught taking images using a spy pen.

Cambridgeshire chief constable Simon Parr said: “At the time of the offences in 2005, the case was reviewed and the then-deputy chief constable decided Lidstone be placed on restricted duties.

“If we were faced with the same decision today, a more severe sanction would be imposed.”

During the hearing, in which the jury heard that Lidstone groomed his nine year old victim, Judge Anthony Bate was incredulous that Lidstone had remained a police officer.

He told the court: “Why on earth you were not charged under the sexual offences act, I do not know.

“Whoever took that decision, it allowed you to carry on as a police officer.”

Following the Tesco spy pen incident Lidstone received a conditional discharge.

He pleaded guilty to a public order offence, but because it is not a sexual offence his name was not placed on the sex offenders register.

As part of his agreement he began counselling – but all of his most serious offending happened in the years afterwards.

This month at Norwich Crown Court Judge Bates sentenced Lidstone to 14 and a half years behind bars after the 54 year old confessed to 13 offences that included three counts of rape, three of indecency with a child, various sexual assaults and taking an indecent photograph of a child.

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