A prison officer sexually assaulted a young woman and used fake profiles to abuse her online. Christopher Gould, who worked at HMP Parc in Bridgend, tried to "control, dominate, and sexually abuse" the teenage victim, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

The 45-year-old from Maesteg used a range of fake social media accounts to "befriend" the victim and her friends. Gould was then able to monitor her whereabouts and whom she was with. On one occasion he pretended to be a disgruntled customer at her place of work and used a pseudonym to email a malicious complaint to her employer, which caused her to be fired from her job.

The sexual assault happened following a night out when the victim was feeling "upset and paranoid, thinking she was being stalked" because of the relentless online campaign against her. The person she turned to in her distress was Gould whom she believed to be a caring and trustworthy adult but was in fact the architect of that campaign. After giving her a lift home he sexually assaulted her.

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In her personal statement, read out in court, the victim said: “He tried to destroy me and my life. It led to me having a deep mistrust of others – something I worry will take a long time to overcome. I felt sick, I couldn't eat, I would hyperventilate, and went into a downward spiral. It has left me constantly looking over my shoulder for danger... I want Chris to know he loses his power over me. I refuse to allow his twisted, abusive, and controlling behaviours to dictate my future."

Gould, of Cwrt Coed Parc, pleaded guilty to controlling, coercive behaviour and malicious communications. He denied sexual assault but a jury found him guilty. He had no previous convictions though he received a caution for theft in 2016.

His barrister Owen Williams said Gould was a prison officer for seven months. He resigned when the allegations were made and later found employment in insurance but was dismissed from that job following the jury's guilty verdict. Mr Williams added: "Throughout his adult life he has worked consistently. He is living with his parents in their home. He provides care to them because both to some extent are elderly and unwell."

The judge said Gould was "completely obsessed and infatuated" with the young woman, and had tried to "control, dominate, and sexually abuse" her. He imposed a jail term of four years. Gould will serve half that time in custody and the remainder on licence. He must pay a £190 victim services surcharge.

Detective constable Cath Moore of South Wales Police said: “This was a complex case where the victim showed tenacity and courage to come forward and make a complaint. After a prolonged investigation we were able to link the social media and email accounts back to Christopher Gould. It takes tremendous courage and bravery for victims of sexual offences to revisit what are traumatic times in their lives, especially as the offences often remain hidden from family and friends. My message to victims out there is that it is never too late to come forward and report matters. We will fully support you and do everything we can to bring abusers to justice.”

A South Wales Police spokesman added: "If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, we’re here for you. When you are ready we can offer support to you. Please follow this link."