A POLICE officer was found guilty of grooming a vulnerable 15-year-old girl.
PC Simon Ferns looked on open-mouthed as jurors delivered a unanimous guilty verdict after three hours of deliberation.
Ferns, 43, a community ward manager for Clatterbridge in Wirral, had denied grooming the sexually active teenager throughout his week-long trial.
He sat staring into space as his barrister discussed a date for sentencing and was heard to whisper: “I’m gobsmacked,” as he was ushered out of the room by supporters.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Ferns met the girl, then aged 13, when he took over patrolling the patch where she lived.
He was frequently called to her house because of anti-social behaviour carried out by her family and gave her his personal mobile number.
The court was told she had been in trouble with local girls after accusations of stealing their boyfriends.
In his defence Ferns told the court the girl got drunk on vodka and slept around and at one stage was taken home by a female colleague when she was caught performing a sex act.
He claimed he was trying to “keep her on the straight and narrow” by saying he could be her boyfriend but jurors disagreed and found that he had been grooming her.
Neil Fryman, prosecuting, accused Ferns of being “infatuated” with the teenager and mocked his claims to be helping her.
He said: “You are hoping against hope that this story of yours will be believed.
“You were blinded by the infatuation you had.
“You were like a fireman going and spraying lighter fuel on the fire.
“You were infatuated with her to such an extent that you would do anything to keep what you had going.”