A married police officer who tried to rape a woman in her home after using his warrant card to gain her trust has been jailed for five years.
Ernesto Ceraldi, 44, who has since resigned from Greater Manchester Police, was sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to attempted rape and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at an earlier hearing.
The court heard his victim was throttled, punched and had her hair pulled during the attack.
Ceraldi denied assaulting his victim in his police interview and claimed any sexual contact was consensual, but pleaded guilty at court.
David Traynor, prosecuting, said the dog handler met his victim in a pub on April 1, where he told her he was a police officer and showed her photos of his police dog.
Ernesto Ceraldi, 44, who has since resigned from Greater Manchester Police, was sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to attempted rape and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at an earlier hearing
The victim invited him back to her home in Rossendale, Lancashire, where they drank wine and engaged in consensual sexual activity, before sitting on the sofa and talking together.
Mr Traynor said the victim described a stage when the defendant’s attitude ‘changed all of a sudden’ and he began to demand she perform a sexual act on him and grabbed her hair.
He pushed her against a wall, causing a picture to fall and smash, and put his hand around her throat, the court heard.
Mr Traynor said: ‘The pressure was horrific, she nearly stopped breathing.’
He said Ceraldi repeatedly punched her and there was a struggle before she ran to the back door and escaped, being pursued by the defendant who was completely naked.
Mr Traynor said: ‘She was absolutely terrified and she thought he was going to kill her.’
Ceraldi denied assaulting his victim in his police interview and claimed any sexual contact was consensual, but pleaded guilty at court
Outside, Ceraldi pinned her against a wall, where a neighbour heard her screaming and helped the victim into her house where they phoned police, the court heard.
The court heard Ceraldi was found by police sleeping naked on the sofa of his victim’s house, with his leg through the arm of a jacket.
Following the attack blood spatters were found on walls of the house and hair extensions which he had pulled from her head were found on the floor, Mr Traynor said.
In a statement read to the court, the victim said: ‘As a police officer I should have been able to trust him without a shadow of a doubt. If I cannot trust a police officer with 21 years of service, who can I trust?’
Julian King, defending, said Ceraldi had a wife and two adult children.
He said: ‘The actions of the defendant were out of character, they were isolated in nature and engaged through, what must be an aggravating feature, the substantial consumption of alcohol.’
The court heard his victim was throttled, punched and had her hair pulled during the attack. Pictured: Preston Crown Court
Ceraldi had previously been given commendations for his police work in the Salford riots in 2011 and at the Uefa Cup final in 2008, he said.
Judge Simon Medland QC said: ‘You and your victim had happily been in each other’s company and I have no doubt that your having mentioned you were a police officer and shown the victim pictures of your police dog must have filled her with confidence.’
He said Ceraldi, who had been consuming alcohol for a substantial period of time, lost his ‘self control’ .
The judge said he behaved in a way which was ‘aggressive and coercive and violent’ and included blunt force trauma and squeezing the victim’s throat.
He said: ‘It terrified the victim and she was in genuine fear for her life.’
The judge said he believed Ceraldi had shown genuine remorse and said a ‘very significant’ feature of the case was that he pleaded guilty at a plea and trial preparation hearing, having previously denied the offences.
He said Ceraldi would be subject to sexual offence notification requirements for the rest of his life and to a restraining order.