A FORMER Somerset Police Community Support Officer who sexually abused a vulnerable 14-year-old girl has been jailed for eight years.

Lawrence Dunn, 48, who was a PCSO based in Bridgwater, abused the girl over a two-year period – and even engaged in sexual activity while in police uniform in a patrol car.

One of Dunn’s jobs was to visit schools to give crime awareness advice and counselling to children.

Dunn, of Axbridge Close, Burnham, first met his shy victim during an official visit and he then approached her at the school gates and arranged to meet again later, Exeter Crown Court was told today.

He started abusing her at her home when her parents were away and took her to remote lay-bys in the countryside where he forced her to take part in sex acts with him.

The victim’s friends became so worried about her contact with him that they reported it to teachers and the police.

She was too frightened to tell the truth at the time and lived with her secret for three years before coming forward last year. Dunn resigned from the Avon and Somerset force during the initial investigation in 2008.

Dunn was convicted of six counts of sexual activity with a girl under 16 and two counts of attempted sexual activity with a girl under 16 at an earlier hearing.

He was cleared of a further count of attempted sexual activity with a child under 16.

Judge Erik Salmonsen today ordered he should remain on the sex offenders’ register for life and made a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans him from unsupervised contact with children.

Judge Salmonsen told Dunn: “The aggravating factors are that your victim was vulnerable and you knew that. This was the very highest and grossest breach of trust.

“It is hard to imagine a man with a greater degree of trust than someone wearing the uniform of a police officer where your responsibility was to protect the victim. “Instead, you perpetrated these crimes, because you could.

“You did so using your uniform and using a police car. There was intimidation and coercion. She was scared. In my judgment there was submission on her part rather than free agreement.”

The judge said the girl had feared Dunn would cause trouble for her family if she rejected his advances.

He said: “She said she wanted to run but thought it would make matters worse and feared you could be violent towards her.”

The girl’s head teacher described the victim as a ‘kind and considerate girl but one who was vulnerable and regarded school as offering a sense of security and continuity”.

Rebecca Bradbury, defending, said: “My client has lost his good character and his job and the respect of the community. His house could be repossessed and he will be released with no job and possibly no home.

“His parents are elderly and infirm and he had been looking after them. He had sought to protect them from these proceedings and has had the difficult task of explaining why he is no longer able to support them.

“The consequences have been far reaching for him and his family.”