A “sex pest” police officer bombarded a woman he fancied with hundreds of unwanted WhatsApp messages, years after they last spoke when she reported a crime, a court has heard.
Married Sergeant Syed Ali sent nearly 500 messages to the woman during a 10-week period from May last year, instigating contact with her for the first time in five years before sending her a stream of texts and a picture of a topless Asian female.
The woman initially did not recognise the 46-year-old defendant, from Dagenham, east London, but told him to stop messaging her once she discovered his identity as the Metropolitan counter-terrorism police officer she had previously met as a witness.
But Ali continued to send her messages of a sexual nature, including around 450 texts between July 13 and 23 2020.
He pleaded guilty to one count of harassment without violence and was handed a suspended prison sentence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, when the judge accused him of undermining faith in the police.
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 said Ali’s contact was “repeated, sustained, and had sexual undertones”.
Ali, who has since resigned from the police after 19 years’ service, was handed a six-week sentence, suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to complete 200 hours’ community service, and was handed a three-year restraining order not to contact the woman.
Prosecutor David Roberts said Ali sent messages from his work phone which were “unreciprocated” and left his victim feeling anxious and vulnerable. Ali later deleted the messages.
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.
In a statement, 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.”