Man who posed as security officer given indefinite hospital order
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A man who posed as a security officer and told two teenagers he needed to search them in the changing rooms of a Guildford store in November 2019 was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order when he appeared at Guildford Crown Court yesterday (11 March).
Although Benjamin Cooley, 22, of Ferry Lane, Guildford, was not fit to enter a plea, the jury in the case found that he did commit the offences of attempted kidnap and breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
The incident took place on 20 November 2019 when Cooley approached the teenagers in Primark, telling them that he was a security guard and that he needed to search them in the changing rooms.
The teenagers accompanied him to the changing rooms but before Cooley could carry out the searches, he was challenged by a store employee.
Cooley then walked the teenagers to another area within the shopping centre and tried to get them into a cupboard to carry out the search. At this point, they became suspicious and asked for identification. When he couldn’t provide any, they left.
The victims reported the allegation to police who carried out a thorough investigation, resulting in Cooley’s arrest. He has been on remand since his arrest.
Cooley was already subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order issued against him in November 2017 and was subsequently charged with breaching the terms of this order.
Detective Constable Pete Coe, who investigated the incident, said: “Cooley posed as a security guard to try and lure these two teenagers into a secluded area and search them. Thankfully their suspicions were raised resulting in them challenging his claims and prevented any further offences from taking place. Cooley is a dangerous sexual predator who will now face being detained in hospital indefinitely.
“I would like to pay tribute to the two victims for their bravery in coming forward and providing evidence we needed to secure Cooley’s conviction. I hope that the sentence given to him will give them some form of closure, as well as sending a clear message that anyone who commits similar offences will be dealt with robustly.
“If you have been the victim of crime, we would urge you to report it to us straightaway – you will be taken seriously and your allegation will always be thoroughly investigated.”