A FORMER police officer accused of rape and sexual activity with underage girls was "a textbook case of grooming", a jury was told.

David Waller, 34, denies all charges against him.

But during closing arguments, Matthew Bean, prosecuting, said messages which had been sent to a young teen offered an insight into Waller’s behaviour.

He told one of the seven complainants she was "beautiful" and to another he talked about his car, house and his job as a police officer, making her feel safe.

Another complainant had told how he made her feel "dead grown up" while one said he called her "my princess".

He even became friendly with one of his victim’s mothers in a bid to gain her trust and allow him access to her daughter, Mr Bean said.

He said a teenage girl had also described Waller’s home exactly when she told the jury how he had taken her back there and had sex with her, while constantly looking at the alarm clock on his bedside table as his parents were due to visit.

The defendant denied she had been at his house at all and claimed she had looked on estate agent websites to describe his home.

Waller claims the girls have invented their stories.

Mr Bean said the jury had to weigh up whether Waller was lying, or whether the seven complainants, none of whom knew each other with the exception of two of them, were lying.

But Nicholas Lumley QC, defending, said the former police officer’s life will “never be the same again” after he became a “soft target” for “easy allegations”.

He said: “The fact is that women, children, boys and men all tell lies and invent allegations.

“In extreme cases people cry rape. People say they have been raped when that just hasn’t happened.

“A number of people say they have been abused when they have not been touched at all, that happens.

“A lie has been told which cannot be untold. The tragedy we see is that these are easy allegations to make and are very difficult to disprove."

Judge Toby Hedworth urged the jury to “stay cool and detached” ahead of their decision.

He said: “Cases like this can give rise to emotions. I told you from the outset to remove any preconceptions people may have of victims or perpetrators.

“Get rid of your preconceptions, you must not let emotions or feelings of any sort influence you.

“Stay cool and detached. In that you will reach the right verdict.”

Commenting on the allegations, one of which dates back several years, Judge Hedworth added: “You should take these delays into account.

“The defence say if the allegations were true then they should have complained much earlier.

“When the complainants were asked for the reason they said they were too frightened and thought they wouldn’t be believed if they were the only ones.

“The passage of time takes a toil on the memory and be aware that it puts the defendant at a severe disadvantage.

“The defendant is of good character and does not have previous convictions but the relevance of that is entirely up to you.”

Waller, of Eastleigh, Thornaby, is accused of meeting some of his victims through his roles with Cleveland Police, as a flying instructor and through various amateur theatre groups between 2004 and 2016.

He denies one charge of rape, three counts of inciting underage girls to engage in sexual activity, three of meeting or attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, two counts of sexual activity with a child, and one of sexual assault.

He also faces a charge of misconduct in public office from his time in the police.

The trial continues.