A police officer who left a woman fearing for her life while attempting to rape her will not see her prison sentence increased after appeals court judges concluded she was “not overly lenient.”
Ernesto Ceraldi, 44, who has since resigned from Greater Manchester Police, was jailed for five years and four months at Preston Crown Court in June after pleading guilty to attempted rape and assault which resulted in actual physical harm. .
The court heard that her victim was strangled, punched and her hair pulled out.
His prison sentence was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) under the unduly lenient sentencing regime.
On Thursday, the lawyers representing the AGO argued at the hearing that Ceraldi should have received an extension of his sentence for public protection and that the term was not long enough for his offense.
But, refusing to increase the sentence, Lord Justice Bean argued that the Crown Court judge had the right to come to the conclusion not to impose an extended sentence, and also to reflect Ceraldi’s early guilty pleadings in the general term.
The court heard that Ceraldi, from Darwen, Lancashire, was a police dog handler when he met his victim in a pub on April 1.
He told her he was a police officer and showed her pictures of his dog before she invited him to her home in Rossendale, Lancashire.
The couple drank wine and engaged in consensual sexual activity before sitting on the couch and talking together.
The defendant’s attitude “suddenly changed” and he started asking her to perform a sexual act on him and grabbed her hair.
He pushed her against a wall, causing an image to fall and break, and put a hand around her throat, the court heard.
Lord Justice Bean said the victim described the pressure on his throat as “horrible” and said he almost stopped breathing.
She said Ceraldi repeatedly punched her and there was a brawl before she ran to the back door and ran away, chased by the naked defendant.
The victim was “absolutely terrified and thought he was going to kill her,” the judge said.
Ceraldi pinned her against an outside wall, where a neighbor overheard her screaming and helped the victim enter her home, where they phoned the police, according to the court.
Ceraldi was found by police sleeping naked on the sofa in his victim’s house, with his leg tucked into the arm of a jacket.
Following the assault, blood splatters were found on the walls of the house and hair extensions – which he had pulled from her head – were found on the floor, the court heard.
In a statement on the victim’s impact, the woman said: “As a police officer I should have been able to trust him without a shadow of a doubt. If I can’t trust a police officer with 21 years of service, who can I trust? “
She also said she is now unable to leave her home at night and has nightmares about the attack and how “there could have been a completely different outcome” had she not been able to fend off Ceraldi.
Lord Justice Bean told the court that a report by a prison officer indicated that Ceraldi was “truly horrified” by his behavior and that Ceraldi said he “did not want any sympathy”, adding: “I have spent many years helping the victims and now I have created one ”.