A JURY was unable to reach verdicts in the trial of a Worcestershire police officer accused of rape and sexual assaults.

Michael Darbyshire, an officer with West Mercia Police, is now facing a retrial after the jury remained deadlocked despite hours spent deliberating.

As previously reported, the 55-year-old denies sexually assaulting then raping a woman he met in the White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath in November 2019.

He was also accused of sexually assaulting a second woman he met on dating site Match.com in August 2019. She claimed he put his hands down her knickers while making grunting noises after being invited into her home.

The panel retired at 12.07pm on Tuesday but, after seven hours and 38 minutes deliberating, had not reached verdicts.

As a result, Judge James Burbidge QC discharged the jury.

The majority direction had already been given shortly before 12.30pm on Wednesday in the hope it might break the deadlock. The jury therefore no longer had to reach unanimous verdicts - the court would be satisfied with verdicts upon which 10 or more of the 12 jurors were agreed.

At around 3.40pm, the judge asked them, given further time to deliberate, would they be able to reach majority verdicts. When the foreman answered 'no', the judge discharged them, telling them that it was no failure on their part that they had not been able to reach verdicts and thanking them for their efforts.

The Crown, represented by prosecutor Andrew Jackson, said they would be seeking a retrial.

This has been scheduled to take place on February 28 next year, but the judge said he would do his utmost to bring that date forward if he could.

In the meantime, Darbyshire was granted conditional bail which includes no contact with either complainant.

Darbyshire was represented at the trial by Earl Pinnock.