Alleged rape victim denies being 'triggered' after seeing former IOPC chief on news

A woman has denied being "triggered" to make historic rape claims against the former head of the police watchdog after seeing him on the news.

Michael Lockwood, 65, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of sexually abusing two 14-year-old girls while working as a lifeguard at a leisure centre near Hull more than 30 years ago. The first alleged victim has claimed the former director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) raped her in a store cupboard at the centre three times.

She has also alleged he indecently assaulted her repeatedly, including when he gave her a lift home in his Ford Capri. Following his arrest, Lockwood initially denied knowing her, and later suggested she was "obsessed" with him.

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Giving evidence on Tuesday (Jul 9), the alleged victim, who cannot be identified, said she had been triggered by something someone said to her.

Former IOPC director Michael Lockwood. Picture credit: Jonathan Brady/PA WireFormer IOPC director Michael Lockwood. Picture credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Former IOPC director Michael Lockwood. Picture credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

She told jurors: "I was feeling emotionally vulnerable. I knew at some point I would need to deal with this. I knew it would be opening a can of worms."

Defence barrister Sarah Elliott KC suggested: "You had seen this person on the news and that was the trigger?"

The woman replied: "No, that's not correct. I may have described it as triggering seeing him but it was not the trigger event."

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Ms Elliott said: "I want to suggest to you the sequence of events may have been this: You see Michael Lockwood on the news because he had a public position and he is in the news a lot and he is a face you recognised because he did work at (the leisure centre) 40 years ago and it's after that you Google and decide he is the person you say you had sex with."

The woman replied: "No, that's not how it happened at all."

Ms Elliott asserted: "Once you had had your trigger you undertook quite a lot of research about Michael Lockwood ."

The woman, who is now in her 50s, said: "I was trying to establish it was him. I did not want to make a mistake. I had never heard of the IOPC before the trigger event. Once you have heard of the IOPC it is in the media quite a lot. People said to me 'Are you sure it's him? Are you sure it's him?'... I said 'Yes, it's definitely him."

The court heard that another girl who frequented the leisure centre had been "obsessed" with Lockwood and another lifeguard.

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The witness agreed the other girl had a "thing" for the defendant and that she was aware the girl had made a photo album of him at running events and sports competitions.

Ms Elliott suggested that part of the fun of going to the leisure centre was "looking at boys, like teenage girls like to do".

The witness was asked about having a crush on another lifeguard at the same leisure centre in the early 1980s.

She had a bracelet from Hull Fair with his name on it but she denied describing him as her boyfriend. The woman said that when she was 13 she had a lot of crushes on the likes of Simon Le Bon from the pop band Duran Duran . She also denied the suggestion she had later "bragged" that she had sex with a lifeguard.

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Referring to the defendant, whom she had known as Mike, she said: "I found the situation overwhelming. I did not know how to handle it. Often when I mentioned things to people I would then regret disclosing. I did not know what was going on."

Ms Elliott said: "Over the next few years you tell a number of people that you had a consensual sexual relationship with a lifeguard."

The witness replied: "I probably described it as consensual because that's how I thought of it. It was only when I had children that I started to realise it probably was not my fault. The awareness was growing that it was abuse and it was not a consensual relationship."

She denied that over the years she had "embellished" her story about a lifeguard.

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Ms Elliott said: "I suggest if you ever had any sexual activity in a store room it was not with Michael Lockwood."

The witness said: "I only ever had sexual activity with Michael Lockwood."

She told jurors she was unaware during that period that Lockwood was seeing someone else, who has since alleged she was also indecently assaulted by him.

She told jurors: "I had no idea (she) existed until March this year."

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The woman denied the suggestion that if there was sexual activity at the leisure centre it was with one of the other lifeguards, such as her earlier crush.

Ms Elliott asked about comments the woman made about feeling sick at destroying Lockwood's life because she could not get "closure" in her own.

The barrister said: "Was that you recognising you had wrongly accused Mr Lockwood? If something happened to you all those years ago I suggest it was not with Michael Lockwood and you had practically no contact with Michael Lockwood when you were at (the leisure centre)."

The witness replied: "That's not true. He took me to the store room. We had sex."

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Questioned by prosecutor Jonathan Polnay KC, the woman elaborated: "I recognised the impact it has had on his life, his job. I take no joy. I could not get closure without reporting and it was something I had to do. What happened back then were his choices, they were not mine."

Lockwood, of Epsom, Surrey , denies a total of 17 charges, including three counts of rape and 14 counts of indecent assault against two girls between 1979 and 1986.

The Old Bailey trial was adjourned until Thursday morning (Jul 11).