A POLICE officer who left a woman with “serious psychological problems” after he raped her following a night out has been jailed for seven years.

Richard Hale, 35, attacked his victim in Peel Place, Carterton, after overpowering her in his bedroom on December 3, 2001.

Sentencing Hale at Oxford Crown Court yesterday, Judge Peter Ross said the mental scars the Thames Valley Police traffic officer left on his victim had contributed to the break-up of her marriage.

The court heard Hale, of no fixed abode, picked his victim up from Cheltenham and they visited a pub in Witney and a club together.

Judge Ross said shortly afterwards the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, decided Hale was “not the person for her” but he had decided he was “going to engage in sexual activity with her and decided that would take place consensually or non-consensually.”

The woman told a friend about her ordeal the next day but did not report the incident to police until June 2012.

Hale, who joined the force in 2003, was convicted of one count of rape at Oxford Crown Court on October 12.

Speaking before Hale was sentenced Tanya Ossack, defending, said apart from the offence the police officer had “a life of exemplary conduct.”

She said: “Since that day he has no convictions, no cautions and no criminal activity.”

Ms Ossack added that as a police officer he would face a tough time in prison.

Sentencing Hale, Judge Ross said: “The events of the night of December 3, 2001 have had an utterly corrosive effect on her and her relationships.

“Ultimately it seems that the serious psychological problems this caused led to the ending of her marriage.

“It is awful that your actions so many years before contributed to the end of what was an otherwise loving marriage.”

Judge Ross said he appreciated the case had had a detrimental effect on Hale’s health and that the effect of his sentence would be “disproportionately greater” due to his status as a police officer.

But he added he had no option but to sentence him to seven years in jail, of which he must serve at least half.

Judge Ross also praised Thames Valley Police for their work in bringing Hale to justice.

Assistant Chief Constable Jason Hogg said: “The sentencing of Hale reflects the seriousness of the offence which has been committed.

“For the public to have confidence in the force it is vital that everyone is aware that all allegations which are reported to Thames Valley Police will be taken extremely seriously and the force will investigate to ensure offenders, whoever they may be and regardless of any positions they hold, are brought to justice.

“While the conviction of Hale is in no way a reflection of the conduct of the vast majority of officers, there is no place in the force for those who commit offences of this nature.”

The force was unable to supply a photograph of Hale as it said it did not have one.

A misconduct investigation by its professional standards department is ongoing.