A former Hertfordshire chief inspector and detective superintendent has been jailed for possessing extreme pornography.

Stuart Cheek, 44, was also sentenced for using the police computer system to find out information about someone he knew without a “legitimate policing purpose”.  

Cheek, who joined Hertfordshire Constabulary when he became St Albans’ new chief inspector in 2018, was jailed for a year after appearing in court on Wednesday (November 9).

Hertfordshire’s assistant chief constable Matt Nicholls said Cheek’s actions were “totally unacceptable”.

The officer was found to have files classed as extreme pornography on his personal phone when it was searched by specially trained officers.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the illegal images - which include scenes of pornographic acts likely to cause serious harm and bestiality - were sent and received via WhatsApp Messenger under the display name ‘Cheeky’. 

Cheek was also convicted of one count of unauthorised access to computer material on several dates, following an audit which found he accessed files on police systems without a legitimate policing purpose. 

Cheek, who transferred to Hertfordshire’s domestic abuse investigation and safeguarding unit in 2018, before being promoted to superintendent for the community safety and crime reduction unit at the force’s HQ, was suspended from duty in July 2020, before resigning from the force two years later.

He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges facing him but later changed his plea.

District crown prosecutor Clare Forsdike said: “Stuart Cheek knowingly shared and received files that contained images of illegal extreme pornographic acts.  

“The sharing and viewing of images of extreme pornography is not a victimless crime. At the CPS we are determined to secure justice for these abhorrent crimes, whoever the perpetrator.”

She also said Cheek “abused his power” and had “no right” to access the information he did on the police computer.  

Assistant chief constable Nicholls added: “The public quite rightly expect the police to uphold the highest standards and, in this instance, when matters came to light, an investigation was immediately launched.

“The actions of this former officer are totally unacceptable and betray the trust that was placed in him by this force. I hope that our robust and zero tolerance approach reassures the public that swift action will always be taken when allegations emerge.”