A former police officer has been cleared of wrongdoing after being accused of having sex with a woman who “jumped on him in his squad car”.
Former Sergeant Lee Cocking, 41, was Acting Inspector for Weston-super-Mare Police and brought the woman home after she was kicked out of the Skinny Dippers nightclub after causing trouble Christmas Eve in 2017.
He had been prosecuted for the incident but was acquitted by a jury last year of a charge of misconduct in public office.
Mr Cocking denied any wrongdoing and said the woman jumped over the passenger and bumped into him.
The former officer was charged Violation of professional standards of conduct which, if proven, would have been gross misconduct.
He told the panel during a two-week police misconduct hearing that he felt numb and walked into one “complete panic” as she undid his pants and attempted to have sex with him.
The panel was never heard from the woman because she refused to attend the trial.
Mr Cocking retired from the force in July following his diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a fatal accident in 2015 in which a young girl died.
Former police officer Lee Cocking (pictured) has been cleared of wrongdoing after he was accused of having sex with a woman who “jumped on him in his squad car”.
Deputy Chief Constable Nikki Watson, from Avon and Somerset Police Headquarters in Portishead, said she was “disappointed” but respected the verdict.
“The hearing was chaired by a legally qualified chair who is independent from the police.
“We fully respect the authority of the Chairman but are disappointed that after careful consideration of all the evidence they have ruled that the allegations of dishonesty and discreditable conduct have not been proven.
“Police officers and personnel are expected to maintain the highest professional standards at all times.
“We always felt that the former officer’s actions on December 24, 2017 fell short of those standards and were not what the public would expect of their police service.
“Since 2017, we have invested significant time and resources in both criminal and misconduct investigations.
“The officer concerned is no longer employed by Avon and Somerset Police.”
Ex-Sergeant Lee Cocking brought the woman home in his squad car (pictured) after she was kicked out of Skinny Dippers nightclub after causing trouble on Christmas Eve 2017
The panel’s chair, Anna Vigars, did not disclose the panel’s reasons for releasing Mr Cocking, but a statement behind the decision is expected to be released soon.
She said they would not comment further until they read the panel’s full statement, which gave the reasons why they acquitted him of wrongdoing.
Ms Vigras added: “We find no wrongdoing as far as Mr Cocking is concerned. It is important to say that we recognize that this process has been difficult for all involved and we are all grateful for the sense in which it was handled by all parties.’
Last year, after an 11-day trial, Mr Cocking was acquitted by a jury of a criminal charge of misconduct over the 2017 incident. A previous jury trial in Cirencester had not reached a verdict.
The jury at the time heard the woman say she did it “three pints of cider followed by a series of gin and tonics” and was very drunk, but she knew they were definitely having sex in his car.
She told the court that she suffered from a friction burn on her skin while attempting to have sex in the car, adding: “All I can remember is that we fought in the car.
“He was in the driver’s seat and I was sitting on top of him with my back against the steering wheel. My leg was next to the door and we got out to have sex. It was in total darkness.’
Ray Tully QC, who defended Mr Cocking at the trial, suggested the woman had straddled the officer and “told him to line up and be a man to have sex with you”.
He suggested the woman slow the vehicle on arrival at Knightstone Island in Weston-super-Mare because she had said she wanted to be dropped off there.
During the police misconduct hearing, the panel was told the woman had never claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the former officer and that the sex was consensual.
A request by Mr Cocking’s lawyer, Ray Tully, to have her anonymity removed so that her name could be used publicly was denied by the panel.
Mr Cocking was charged with having “sexual relations with a vulnerable member of the public” while on duty and giving “untruthful answers” about his medical history to a police officer in custody, which would have amounted to gross misconduct if there was evidence, it has been claimed.
The woman, whose name can’t be released for legal reasons, was kicked out of Skinny Dippers nightclub before meeting Mr Cocking in his car
He broke down in tears at Gloucester Crown Court last year after she was acquitted by the jury.
The trial was heard offering the woman a ride home in the unmarked silver Vauxhall Astra police car, which she accepted.
She had been kicked out of the Skinny Dippers nightclub and was causing trouble outside the building.
He said it felt like an “outer body experience” when the woman suddenly thrust herself on him.
Mr Cocking suffered from PTSD and claimed he was mentally unable to resist the woman’s sexual advances.
She pulled down her jeans and knickers, undid his fly, and then began “spreading” him in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
Mr Cocking, who was a police officer for 20 years, pleaded not guilty to misconduct of judicial or public office by willful misconduct in a manner amounting to abuse of public office.
His lawyer said Mr Cocking felt he had been a victim of sexual assault himself.
He claimed that while driving, she suddenly touched the side of his left leg, then giggled and apologized.
‘She yelled at me to pull up just before the old toll road. I pulled over, expecting her to just get out.
“But she leaned towards me, head forward and lips pursed as if she was leaning in to kiss me.
“I raised my hand to stop them. I told her she couldn’t do that as I would get in trouble.
“It came as a shock and my anxiety skyrocketed.
“I was terrified when the lives of so many of my colleagues were shattered with similar allegations. I just wanted to bring her home so I could come home myself.”
He drove on, but their demands “became louder and louder.”
He said his mind was “racing” and that if he stopped, “she would complain.”