West Yorkshire police sergeant denies rape, telling jury ‘I know what consent is’

A police sergeant has denied raping a woman after a night out, telling a jury: “I know what consent is.”

Ben Lister leaves Bradford Crown Court.

Ben Lister, 36, described to jurors at Bradford Crown Court how he had sex with a woman at a house after going out for drinks with friends, but denied it was without her consent.

Lister said: “I know what consent is. I don’t recall a conversation in the build-up, can I have sex with her. That’s not a conversation I would have.

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“It’s in body language, the moment with someone, the build-up, the conversation.

“I wouldn’t just start to have sex with someone.”

Lister was asked by his barrister, Laura Nash, whether the woman had asked him to stop and he said “no”.

Ms Nash also asked whether the complainant had indicated she did not want to engage in sexual activity, whether she pushed him away or appeared unwilling to participate.

The defendant said “no” to each question.

Lister, who was a constable at the time of the incident in August 2016 but was a sergeant by the time he was arrested and suspended, said everyone on the night out had been drinking and when they arrived at a friend’s house, “everyone was drunk”.

He told the jury: “But no-one was out of it. No-one was falling over. No-one needed to be helped.”

He said the group were laughing and joking before everyone except him and the complainant went upstairs to sleep.

Lister said he and the woman began kissing, and then had sex.

Lister was asked about a later Facebook message from the woman saying “did I sleep with you last night?” and why he replied “no”.

The defendant said he had just split up with his partner, who was also a police officer, and wanted to get back with her, but feared her finding out about this one-night stand.

The jury has heard how the complainant became pregnant, had a child and DNA analysis showed Lister was the father.

Lister said that although he was surprised the analysis showed he was the father due to precautions he claimed to have taken, he accepts that he is the father of the child.

Lister said he had been a police officer in West Yorkshire since 2007 and had no previous convictions or misconduct findings against him.

Prosecutors have told the jury their case is that the woman did not consent to sexual contact with him and “for the bulk of it she wasn’t in any fit state to do so because of intoxication”.

The jury was told that the woman went to police in January 2020 and Lister was arrested and interviewed.

Lister, 36, denies one count of rape and one count of assault by penetration.