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Police officer on trial accused of raping and impregnating woman after night out drinking

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An off-duty West Yorkshire police officer is on trial accused of rape five years after making a 21-year-old woman pregnant at the end of a night out drinking.

Ben Lister, 35, initially denied having intercourse with the woman over the August bank holiday weekend in 2016 but admitted it after DNA tests on her baby.

At Bradford Crown Court, the judge, Recorder of Bradford Richard Manson QC, warned the jury not to compare the case to the false arrest and murder of Sarah Everard by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens.

Police officer Ben Lister walks Bradford Crown Court on Monday.
Image: Police officer Ben Lister (R) walks to Bradford Crown Court on Monday.

“Please do not let the publicity that has surrounded that case influence your decision,” he said.

“There is no suggestion this defendant […] abused his position.”

The case against Lister, he told the jury, “has nothing to do with the fact he was a police officer at the time”.

The jury of 10 women and two men heard Lister and the woman were sleeping on separate sofas at the end of an evening out.

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Prosecutor Richard Woolfall told the court “This defendant went on to take advantage of that young lady, who was very drunk.”

He said Lister pulled the woman off the sofa as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

“It must have been while she was out of it, asleep, when he went on to have intercourse,” he said.

The jury was told the woman messaged Lister the following day to ask if intercourse had taken place and he messaged back saying it had not.

When she realised she was pregnant, Mr Woolfall said that initially she had lied to friends and family, saying someone else was the father.

“For a time she was in denial about how her baby had been conceived […] and that her baby was a product of rape,” he said.

After the baby was born and a DNA test identified Lister as the father he admitted having sex with her that night.

“The defendant denies he raped her, but says she was never drunk to the point that she didn’t know what was going on,” Mr Woolfall said.

“His case is that what took place was consensual.”

Lister denies rape, and another charge of assault by penetration, and the trial is expected to continue until Thursday.