17 Dec 2009

Jailed Christchurch policeman to appeal

10:58 pm on 17 December 2009

A former police officer who was jailed for two years on Thursday has lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Nathan Connolly, 31, was last month found guilty of coercing a prostitute to have sex with him, but he maintains his innocence.

In an unusual verdict, Connolly was cleared of obtaining information to use against a prostitute, yet found guilty of using that information to coerce the woman to give him free sexual services.

That has now opened up the way for an appeal, which was lodged by his lawyer on Thursday.

In the meantime Connolly will remain behind bars. As a former police officer, he will be kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for his own safety.

Earlier in the day, Connolly was sentenced to two years jail for coercing the woman to have sex by way of threat. The sentence will also be appealed.

Connolly, who was aged 28 at the time of the offences, was working in a traffic unit when he coerced the woman into having sex with him in a patrol car instead of issuing her with $1000 worth of traffic fines.

He was wearing his uniform and driving a police car at the time.

He did not pay for sex with her for the next nine months.

Sentencing Connolly in the High Court in Christchurch on Thursday, Justice French said his actions not only damaged his personal life, but they also brought serious harm to the reputation of the police.

"That is something that strikes at the very heart of our legal system. It is imperative that we have faith in the integrity of our sworn police officers who are entrusted with the task of enforcing the law."

She said the sentence must be severe enough to act as a deterrent and Connolly would not be granted home detention.