A rogue cop who raped two women and used his position to abuse five more has been given two life sentences and branded a public danger.

Northumbria Police constable Stephen Mitchell must serve seven-and-a-half years behind bars before he can even apply for parole, but was warned he may never be released.

The uniformed predator targeted vulnerable victims he met through his work at Pilgrim Street police station in Newcastle.

At the city's crown court today Mr Justice Wilkie told him: "I am satisfied it is likely, if you were at large, even though you would not hold a position of authority such as being a police officer, you would remain a danger to women.

"The duration, intensity, severity and compulsive nature of the conduct of which you have been found guilty is such that, if at large, you would be likely to commit similar offences in future.

"You targeted a series of young and vulnerable female drug addicts, who committed minor thefts and who passed through your hands, they were , as you well appreciate, living chaotic lives of desperation, committing minor offences prolifically to maintain their addiction.

"As with any member of the public who is arrested, they were entitled to be treated professionally and properly, whatever their offence, and to be kept safe from harm whilst in custody.

"You sought to achieve the opposite of that, you used methods which were abusive or corrupt in themselves or which involved a gross distortion of proper police practice to try to maintain them and get them to do your bidding in order to provide sexual pleasure for yourself."

The judge warned Mitchell, who remained expressionless during the hearing while flanked by four prison guards, he may never be released from jail.

The judge said: "I am satisfied that you are a manipulative and driven person and the fact that you would not be a police officer would not significantly diminish the risk of harm you would pose to adult women, which is assessed in the pre sentence report as high.

"You will only be released, if at all, after the parole board has concluded that it is safe in the public interest for you to be released on licence, that may not be for many years, if ever."

The predatory sex pest, a divorced dad who was born in Glasgow, had worked with the force for just a year when he carried out the first attack.

The 42-year-old denied a total of 26 offences of rape, indecent assault and misconduct in public office and was tried by a jury last year.

After a five week trial, and almost a week of deliberations, jurors found him guilty of two charges of rape, three of indecent assault and six of misconduct in public office.

The offences, against a total of seven women, happened over a five year reign of terror beginning in 1999.

During his police service the trusted officer handcuffed and raped one woman after tracking her down when she moved home to get away from his four year campaign blackmail and threats.

He raped another woman, who he initially offered to help get her children back then threatened to plant heroin in her home, in his car and covered her mouth as she screamed in terror.

As well as the rape victims, Mitchell, who left the army in 1991, had a series of sickening sexual encounters with women he would offer to help - then demand sexual favours in exchange.

Prosecutor Paul Sloan had told jurors: "The prosecution case is that the defendant deliberately targeted vulnerable females; that he employed specific tactics to take advantage of and to exploit their vulnerability, whether by flattering them, or by helping them or by pretending to help them, or by blackmailing them.

"The prosecution case is that it was the gratification of his own sexual desires which motivated this defendant, he being confident throughout that not one of the women would report him because who would believe the word of a thief or drug addict against that of a serving police officer?

"Indeed, on many occasions, he actually said that to a complainant."

Mitchell joined Northumbria Police in 1998 and on completion of his training was posted to the city station.

Even before this spectacular fall from grace Mitchell had come to the attention of his bosses.

In 2007 Mitchell admitted a breach of the police code of conduct in relation to an incident the previous year where he had sex with a woman he came into contact with through his job.

The woman had turned up at Pilgrim Street station "confused, distressed and clearly drunk".

The woman had somehow lost her keys and Mitchell and another officer were tasked with getting her home safely.

The initial part of the incident was handled professionally and without problem.

But after Mitchell finished his shift that night he turned back up at the woman's home and had sex with her.

In 2006 Mitchell had been fined three days wages after the force found out he had been using the police computer to look up friends of his estranged wife.

Throughout the trial, Mitchell, who was regularly flanked by around four prison guards, denied the allegations entirely.

He told jurors he was in Glasgow because of his father's murder when one of the attacks were said to have taken place.

Mitchell's father James Mitchell had been bludgeoned by neighbour James Drummond after a long running feud.

Drummond was jailed for eight years for culpable homicide, later reduced to five years, by a court in Scotland.

During the trial it emerged Mitchell had secretly taped a conversation he had with Detective Chief Inspector Chris Sharman in March 2009.

During the conversation Mitchell appears to be told he can influence whether or not the investigation team "stop digging".

Mitchell's defence team claimed the conversation amounted to a deal whereby if he resigned the allegations would "go away".

Toby Hedworth QC, defending, said the fact Mitchell did not accept the "get of of jail free" card proved his innocence.