Ex-police watchdog chief raped and molested girls at leisure centre, court told

The former head of the police watchdog raped and indecently assaulted two 14-year-old girls while working as a lifeguard at a leisure centre more than 30 years ago, a court has heard.

Michael Lockwood, 65, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of 17 charges, three rapes and 14 indecent assaults, relating to the children between 1979 and 1986.

It is claimed that while in his 20s, he repeatedly raped one of the girls in a storeroom at a leisure centre near Hull, in East Yorkshire.

He pulled another girl into a male toilet cubicle at the centre where he kissed and sexually touched her, it was claimed.

Jurors heard it was “common knowledge” among fellow lifeguards who sang about them being “locked in the lavatory” together.

Opening the trial on Thursday, prosecutor Jonathan Polnay KC said Lockwood had worked at the leisure centre while a student at Hull University and later, after he got a job as senior auditor at Humberside County Council.

He went on to have a “distinguished” career in local government before becoming director general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which is the police complaints watchdog for England and Wales, the court was told.

The first woman to come forward was a “naive and inexperienced” 14-year-old schoolgirl when she met Lockwood at the leisure centre in the 1980s, jurors heard.

Lockwood would give her a lift home in his Ford Capri car, which she thought was “incredibly cool”, the court was told.

Mr Polnay said: “The imbalance is obvious in everything, age, money, experience and power.”

After Lockwood first kissed the girl on a walk after dark, she thought they were in a “proper relationship”, the prosecutor said.

He kissed her again and touched her breasts when he dropped round the corner from her home in his Capri, it was alleged.

The defendant took matters further and led her to a chemicals storeroom at the leisure centre where he kissed and touched her and made her engage in a sexual act, it was claimed.

He later indecently assaulted and raped her in the storeroom, jurors were told.

Central Criminal Court stock
The trial is being heard at the Old Bailey (Nick Ansell/PA)

The complainant, who is now in her 50s, said that it “just happened and I didn’t resist”, Mr Polnay said.

He told jurors: “At the time, (she) was a child. She trusted Mr Lockwood. She was worried if anyone found out what had happened she would be in trouble and would be banned from the leisure centre – a child’s thought as to what was being done to her.

“The prosecution say what happened was very far from consent. (She) did not consent to sex with the defendant. She submitted, not consented, to his control.

“The age – her a child in third form, him a grown man of 26 – all of the circumstances, and therefore the serious power imbalance, all points to this.”

Lockwood is accused of raping the child twice more, Mr Polnay.

The woman went to police after events in her life caused her to go over what happened in her past in 2020, jurors heard.

Following his arrest, Lockwood initially denied knowing her, later suggested she was “obsessed” with him.

He insisted the allegations were untrue, saying: “I know for certain that I never had sexual intercourse with anyone in the leisure centre.

“I do not recall there being a store cupboard on the ground floor, there may have been but I would never have jeopardised my career or job by having sexual intercourse with anyone anywhere at a public place.”

A second woman, who was also 14 when she met Lockwood, came forward after reading reports about the sexual allegations in a local newspaper.

She first met him at the leisure centre years before the first complainant, the court was told.

They got chatting and one day he pulled her into a male toilet cubicle and kissed her, it was claimed.

He allegedly went on to sexually touch the girl again in the same toilet.

Mr Polnay said: “It was pretty much common knowledge amongst the lifeguards that this was going on on Mr Lockwood’s break.

“On one of occasion the other lifeguards started singing a song about it with the lyrics (girl’s name) and Mike got locked in the lavatory’.”

Mr Polnay suggested that the singing may have prompted Lockwood to move his encounters with the girl to a storeroom.

When the girl was aged 15, Lockwood engaged in sexual activity with her on the back seat of his mother’s car, it was claimed.

In a police interview last year, Lockwood said he was “shocked and upset” at her allegations.

He accepted they had been in a sexual relationship but insisted that at the time he believed she was over 16.

Lockwood, of Epsom, Surrey, denies three counts of rape and six counts of indecent assault relating to the first complainant between October 1985 and March 1986.

He has also pleaded not guilty to eight indecent assaults on the second complainant on dates between August 1979 and August 1981.

The Old Bailey trial before Mr Justice Bennathan continues.