A disgraced former police officer who groped two young colleagues on a Christmas night out has walked free from court.

Lee Morgan was caught on CCTV feeling the bottoms of the two women during a night out in Yarm last December.

The 46-year-old was dressed in a red Mickey Mouse Christmas jumper at the time of the assaults, a court heard.

The former control room inspector at Cleveland Police had previously claimed he had no recollection of the events of the evening after an investigation was launched following a complaint about his sexually inappropriate behaviour.

In November he was barred from ever working for another police force in the country after he was found guilty of gross misconduct following his admissions of guilt at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

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Today, Newcastle Crown Court was told the married father-of-three resigned from the force after 23 years as an officer, having an unblemished career up to this point with a number of commendations for his work.

Morgan, from Ingleby Barwick, was the most senior officer present at the night out when he groped the two women, named only as witnesses A and B.

Witness A felt two or three taps on her buttocks but when she turned around, she said no-one was there.

John Harley, prosecuting, said: “She assumed the defendant had been responsible for the touching, he had been behaving in a loud and over-friendly manner.”

She felt annoyed, “like a line had been crossed”, the court was told.

She later saw the defendant with witness B and thought he was being over-familiar with her as well, Mr Harley said.

Pub CCTV also caught Morgan squeezing witness B’s buttocks.

Neither of his victims supported the prosecution, and neither said they had suffered psychological harm as a result of what he did, the court heard.

Jane Waugh, mitigating, read references which said Morgan’s behaviour that night was out of character and that he had lost his career in public service during which he had displayed “exemplary conduct”.

Miss Waugh said: “This is truly a fall from grace, this is a man who had an excellent career and was very well thought of.

“He has now lost his good character.”

Morgan had taken measures to control his drinking, his legal counsel said.

He felt shame for what he did and he had a five-day stay in hospital after attempting suicide, Miss Waugh said.

Judge Sarah Mallett said: “I have read character references on your behalf and it is clear your behaviour on this evening was totally out of character.”

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The offences took place on December 15, 2021, when Morgan admitted he intentionally touched a female aged 16 or over and that touching was sexual when she did not consent and you did not reasonably believe that she was consenting.

Morgan declined to attend the disciplinary hearing in November but Roger Whiteley, the ex-officer’s welfare representative, read out a statement on behalf of Morgan.

“I have made stupid mistakes through intoxication, mental health and bad decision making, which often go hand in hand.

“I have done wrong but the punishment far, far outweighs the crime.”