PC Simon Abell, 42, Nottinghamshire, has been handed a six-month sentence, suspended for one year, after he pleaded guilty to a single count of misconduct in public office.

The court heard that he sent inappropriate Facebook and text messages to a woman who he met in his capacity as an officer, between November 2011 and August 2012. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, initiated the contact after she was a potential witness in an earlier investigation, which was discontinued. A series of messages then began between the pair.

A friend of the woman handed in a disc of screenshots of the Facebook messages to the police and it was brought to the attention of the Professional Standards Directorate. Abell was suspended from Nottinghamshire police, and resigned in May this year after pleading guilty to the offence.

Judge Michael Stokes, who sentenced Abell, noted that the complainant had initiated the communication between the pair but said that Abell had “taken advantage” of the fact she was “undeniably vulnerable”.

Harpreet Sandhu, representing Abell, said he had shown “genuine remorse” and that “The regret is not for him but for those who he has placed in a precarious position due to his offending”.

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