A cop who abused his position to "seek sexual favours" from teenage girls has had his sentence slashed by Appeal Court judges.

Keith Burgess, 43, who served on the Hampshire force, was locked up for two and a half years at Southampton Crown Court last June.

Jurors convicted him of two counts of misconduct in public office, but Burgess, of Cheviot Drive, Dibden, was cleared of sexual assault.

An officer with Hampshire Police since 2003, he sent messages to two young women - aged 16 and 17 - and was accused of groping one of them.

“The jury accepted her account of what took place between her and Burgess but were not sure that it was without her consent,” Mr Justice Edis said today.

Burgess worked extensively in the community in the Newton area of Southampton.

He was sentenced on the basis that “he sought sexual favours using his public office to do so”, the judge told London's Appeal Court.

Before his fall from grace, Burgess had a good reputation in the community, and presented glowing character references.

In the case of the 16-year-old, Burgess sent her “flirtatious messages” and asked her to send him selfies.

When the girl responded with a photo of herself in bed, he shot back a message saying she was “hot and beautiful”.

Burgess sent messages to the 17-year-old enquiring about “the type and colour of her underwear”, the court heard.

He told her that “she was gorgeous and beautiful”.

Burgess’s case reached the Appeal Court today as he challenged his sentence.

His legal team argued that 30 months was too harsh a punishment in light of his excellent previous character.

They also pointed out that “if it wasn’t for the fact he was a police officer he would not have committed any offence here”.

Mr Justice Edis, sitting with another senior judge, said: “The sexual contact which occurred between Burgess and victim A was quite extensive.

“That resulted from what can properly be described as grooming behaviour in her case, and that was an important aggravating factor.”

But he concluded that the 30-month sentence was “excessive”, failing to reflect Burgess’ distinguished career which is now in shreds.

An 18-month jail term “would suffice”, and the judge concluded: “That is a substantial sentence for a person in his position”.