‘Predatory’ police officer who had sex with vulnerable woman dismissed

‘Predatory’ police officer who had sex with vulnerable woman dismissed

A POLICE officer was dismissed from the PSNI after using his position of authority to have sex with a vulnerable woman while on duty.

The findings of a Police Ombudsman investigation have been released, which found the officer had sex with the woman at an industrial estate in Antrim while on duty in 2016.

The incident only came to light in 2019 when the woman called 999 to report it.

Concerned for her safety, police officers took the woman to Antrim Police Station where she revealed that she had been at the same station in 2016 to report a burglary when an officer made inappropriate comments and touched her sexually.

The woman told officers she had been experiencing a number of challenges in her life at the time and added that a short time after having consensual sex with the officer in a secluded area of trees in the industrial estate, he called to warn her not to tell anyone about what had happened.

In her report, following the investigation into the incident, Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said: “The evidence obtained during the course of the investigation was clear that this officer preyed on a woman who was obviously vulnerable.

“The incident occurred in a public space while the officer was on duty,” she added.

“He lied repeatedly to my investigators even when faced with mounting evidence of serious misconduct.

"In short his behaviour was reprehensible and ill befits the standards required of police officers.”

The officer was dismissed from the PSNI in 2022 following a formal misconduct investigation.

In her statement on the incident, Mrs Anderson added that the power imbalance between police and members of the public was often not fully recognised or appreciated.

“Police often come into people’s lives at a time when they are at their most vulnerable, and during such times those members of the public should be protected rather than exploited,” she said.

“Such behaviour is a fundamental betrayal of public trust. When proven, it is serious corruption and will not be tolerated.
“My office is investigating a number of cases involving similar allegations against other police officers.

“I would urge anyone who believes they have been targeted by a police officer for sexual gain to immediately contact my office so that their concerns can be thoroughly and independently investigated.”

Mrs Anderson added that the officer’s dismissal by the PSNI demonstrated that “predatory behaviour has no place in policing.”

Responding to Mrs Anderson’s report, which was released yesterday afternoon, Chief Superintendent Stephen Wright, Head of the PSNI’s Professional Standards department, said: “The officer's conduct in this case was completely abhorrent and a blatant contravention of the Code of Ethics.

“He was rightly dismissed from the Police Service in 2022, following a formal misconduct investigation and hearing.”

He added: “As a police officer, he was trusted with helping a woman whom he knew to be vulnerable. Instead of protecting her, he used his authority to take advantage of her.

“This was an appalling and despicable breach of trust and, as our panel found, amounted to gross misconduct.

“Such actions fall far short of the standards expected of police officers, and will not be tolerated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”