A policeman who falsely accused a street cleaner of sexually assaulting a child after a row about his garden hedge has been jailed for three years.
PC Hitesh Lakhani, 42, claimed he saw the council worker beckon a five-year-old girl into some bushes in Uxbridge, west London, while her mother walked ahead on 5 September 2018.
The Metropolitan Police officer, who was off duty, said he saw the cleaner pull his shorts down and make the child touch him.
He claimed the girl was able to escape when her mother called for her.
Lakhani took a photograph of the cleaner and handed it to police, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Police then shared the image on social media to identify the man before CCTV footage proved the sexual assault didn’t happen.
CPS Senior Crown Prosecutor David Davies said Lakhani had made the false report after an argument about his garden hedge trimmings spilling on to the street.
The officer was jailed for three years at Kingston Crown Court on Friday after he was found guilty of perverting the course of justice in December last year.
Mr Davies said: “This was a baseless accusation against a hard-working man by a serving police officer.
“Hitesh Lakhani called 101 alleging he had witnessed a sexual assault that he knew did not happen. This was a spiteful act over a disagreement about hedge trimmings in his front garden spilling on to the street.
“A police investigation found no trace of sexual crimes being reported in the vicinity, various inaccuracies in Lakhani’s account and CCTV evidence from a neighbouring house, which proved the sexual assault could not have happened.
“The most worrying aspect of this case was that Lakhani, as a police officer, presented as a credible witness to a serious allegation where there was an identified suspect.
“The implications for this victim could have been profound, but we were able to prove Lakhani’s account was entirely fictional and unfounded.
“I hope this prosecution serves as a reminder that nobody is above the law.”
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