David Carrick, who believed his position as a Metropolitan police officer made him “untouchable” as he raped, assaulted and inflicted “irretrievable destruction” on at least 12 women before intimidating them into silence, has been jailed for life.
The firearms officer, entrusted to guard parliament and diplomatic sites after the Met missed clue after clue about the danger he posed, will spend at least 30 more years in prison for his 17-year spree of crimes.
Carrick, 48, stood in the dock at Southwark crown court, watched in person and via a video link by his victims, to be told by the judge that he was the latest high-profile example of a “malign” abuse of power by a man against women.
Carrick, who had pleaded guilty to 85 serious offences including 48 rapes, was finally brought to justice after a woman decided in October 2021 to report the attack on her, almost immediately after another Met officer was jailed for murdering Sarah Everard.
The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, who ordered Carrick to appear in person for sentencing, said: “You behaved as if you were untouchable. You were bold and at times relentless, trusting that no victim would overcome her shame and fear to report you. For nearly two decades you were proved right.”
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office confirmed that it had received multiple complaints about the leniency of the sentencing. He added: “The case will of course be considered for referral to the court of appeal.”
Victim after victim had told the court they were too scared to report him. The judge said Carrick had taken “monstrous advantage” of his position as a police officer, which gave him “exceptional powers to coerce and control” and that he had betrayed his oath to protect the public and caused “irretrievable devastation”.
Cheema-Grubb said of the women Carrick had attacked: “These women are not weak or ineffectual. They were victims of your criminal mindset. The malign influence of men like you in positions of power stands in the way of a revolution of women’s dignity.”
Media coverage of the single complaint in October 2021 that resulted in Carrick being arrested led others to come forward and allowed a case so compelling to be built that he eventually pleaded guilty.
Police believe more victims are yet to be discovered and their investigation into Carrick remains active. It is hoped the case signals to women that the risk of the police, prosecution service and courts failing them is outweighed by the justice it can bring.
The judge added: “It is remarkable that with one woman being driven to report an allegation against you, despite your position and power, others felt able to act. Even today, courage calls to courage everywhere and its voice cannot be denied.”
Carrick must serve a minimum term of 32 years minus the time he has spent in custody before he can be considered for release.
As the judge began her remarks, Carrick, in a dark grey jacket and tie, looked at her, but his gaze dropped to the floor as she detailed his crimes, his face expressionless.
Cheema-Grubb said the former Met firearms officer faced a “spectacular downfall” and would endure a “difficult time in custody”, which would last until he is 78 years old, at the earliest.
Carrick had pleaded guilty to 85 serious offences, including rapes, sexual assaults, false imprisonment, and coercive and controlling behaviour, which included locking the women in small cupboards and whistling at them as if they were a dog.
In all, he carried out attacks on 12 women between 2003 and 2020, all of which took place while he was a Met police officer. Some he met online via dating apps; others he attacked after at first appearing charming and luring them into relationships.
He joined the Met in 2001 and was selected in 2009 to carry a gun and guard parliamentary and diplomatic sites.
The Met has said he should never have been a police officer, with a series of women making complaints against him, yet the force failed to spot the danger he posed.
The government has ordered an inquiry into the Carrick scandal, and Cheema-Grubb said his position as a police officer was an aggravating factor: “This violent sexual offending against women commenced almost immediately after you became a police constable, and you referred to your job when offending.”
The judge said in one attack – the first he was sentenced for – he told a woman she was safe with him because he was a police officer, before raping her while holding a firearm to her head. In other attacks, he used police-issue handcuffs to restrain the women, and sent a photo of his police gun to another, warning her: “Remember I’m the boss.”
Cheeema-Grubb said Carrick used “police-issue items, to assert authority and force compliance”, as well as telling the women that any complaint against him – a serving Met officer – would be disbelieved, even telling one: “I am the law.”
The sentencing hearing heard powerful testimony from survivors on Monday, with one describing him as evil and others saying he destroyed their lives or left them feeling suicidal.
Cheema-Grubb said: “There is powerful and compelling evidence of irretrievable devastation in the lives of those you abused.
“Denial, anger, hatred, betrayal, shame, self-blame and fear of being labelled a victim, are common emotions. You have shaped their lives, deprived them of the ability to trust men and form relationships. Some have damaged mental health and suffer loneliness. They continue to question their own judgment. They don’t trust the police.”
She said Carrick had attempted suicide after his arrest out of self-pity rather than remorse. During his attacks, the sounds of the women suffering excited him, she said, and that he turned into a “monster” after drinking alcohol.
Carrick’s case has rocked already frayed trust and confidence in the Met, as one in an already long list of policing scandals.
After the sentencing, Ruth Davison, the chief executive of Refuge, which supports survivors of domestic violence, called for radical change and said: “This case further exposes the rank misogyny within the police force. Survivors who themselves were police officers spoke of the male-dominated culture in the police that protected this perpetrator.
“They spoke of their fear of not being believed, or mocked, if they reported the atrocious crimes that had been committed against them.”
The home secretary, Suella Braverman, said “the crimes of David Carrick are a scar on our police”, adding: “There is no place in our police for such heinous and predatory behaviour.” She did not mention any specific policing reforms and said she awaited the outcome of the inquiry.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “A major overhaul of police standards is desperately needed, but there has been a serious failure by Conservative ministers to take action. We owe it to the victims in this hideous case to take the strongest action on police standards.”
The Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, described Carrick as “evil” and acknowledged the damage to the force – Britain’s largest – which he vowed to reform. “He exploited his position as a police officer in the most disgusting way … We weren’t rigorous enough in our approach and as a result we missed opportunities to identify the warning signs over decades,” he said.
“I and tens of thousands of officers and staff in the Met are horrified by this man’s crimes and recognise this will shake Londoners’ trust too. We have let down women across London but we are more determined than ever to put it right.”
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, gave his backing to reforms under way under Rowley: “I want to reassure the public and all the brave officers and staff who want to speak out that under the new commissioner any allegation of misconduct will be taken seriously and handled sensitively.”
Peter Burt, of the Crown Prosecution Service, accepted that the criminal justice system had failed survivors of sexual violence, but that the jailing of Carrick showed the need for people to come forward.
He said: “We know there are victims of other rape and serious sexual offences out there and that many of you may be worried about being believed or whether you’ll ever see justice done. We hope seeing Carrick, a prolific abuser, manipulator and rapist, behind bars will encourage other women to come forward, knowing we will do all we can to hold the person responsible to account for their crime.”
Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, or 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html