A married police officer slept with a domestic abuse victim while investigating her ex-partner, a disciplinary panel has heard.
PC Sean Ford, 49, posed as a ‘knight in shining armour’ after visiting the woman’s home to interview her and take a statement following the allegations of abuse, the hearing at Dorset Police headquarters heard.
After he left the woman messaged the officer on Facebook and invited him over for a coffee when he was off duty hours later.
The hearing heard the pair kissed and hugged on that first occasion which led to a passionate love affair.
At the same time PC Ford had been assigned as the investigating officer in the case of the woman’s ex-husband who had made counter allegations about her.
PC Ford’s involvement with the vulnerable woman was said to have amounted to a serious conflict of interest which could have affected the administration of justice.
The officer is now facing a disciplinary hearing in which he is accused of gross misconduct.
PC Sean Ford, 49, posed as a ‘knight in shining armour’ after visiting the woman’s home to interview her and take a statement following the allegations of abuse, the hearing at Dorset Police headquarters heard
PC Ford, who joined the police in 1998, denies the allegations.
The hearing heard how the woman, who can’t be identified, had been referred to police by her therapist who believed she was the victim of domestic abuse and controlling behaviour in August 2019.
The woman, referred to as Ms A to protect her anonymity, told police that she lived in fear of her ex-husband and felt suicidal.
PC Ford then interviewed him about counter allegations of emotional abuse against the woman and was assigned as an officer in the case.
Mark Ley-Morgan, making the case against PC Ford, said: ‘You do not need guidelines to remind you not to sleep with a suspect or victim.’
He told the hearing: ‘Ms A’s ex-partner denied the allegations against him and made counter allegations of historic abuse. PC Ford took his statement.
‘He alleged that she had been emotionally abusive and earlier in the year had kicked out at him, causing him to spill hot tea.
‘On September 18, 2019, PC Ford took a statement from Ms A at her home after her ex-partner tried to engineer a meeting with her.
‘It should have been known that she was vulnerable, and she should have been treated accordingly.
After he left the woman messaged the officer on Facebook and invited him over for a coffee when he was off duty hours later
‘At this point the officer knew she was a suspect and an alleged victim in a case.
‘Ms A later contacted PC Ford and asked him to come over. He went over with his dog and spent the evening with her off duty and there is reference to hugging and kissing.
‘The next day they exchanged messages in large numbers, including flirty, sexualised ones, and admitted intense feelings for each other.
‘Mrs A said, ‘I love you’, and PC Ford said it was a very special evening for him.
‘Three days after the officer took Ms A’s statement, they slept together for the first time.
‘Their relationship started a matter of hours after he was there taking a statement in an official capacity.
‘He is making entries on a log that relates to allegations about the woman he is sleeping with – that is a conflict of interest which had the potential to have a serious effect om the administration of justice.
‘He had a duty to disclose what he had done but he did not.’
Mr Ley-Morgan put to PC Ford that he presented himself ‘as a knight in shining armour’ to a vulnerable woman.
PC Ford responded: ‘I have not abused my position to have a relationship with her.’
The father-of-one, who had recently separated from his wife, said how he felt ‘nervous and excited’ when she asked him to come over.
He told the hearing he did not believe she was depressed or suicidal when they met but that she was talking about the past.
Ramin Pakrooh, mitigating, said PC Ford did not abuse his position.
He said: ‘PC Ford had two choices – either he could have exercised self-control and postponed pursuing the relationship or he could have communicated his relationship and stepped away from policing.
‘He accepts that he failed to do that but we do not accept that he abused his power.
‘The woman was vulnerable, in that she was an alleged victim of a crime, but she was not susceptible to being swept off her feet by a man in uniform.’
The hearing continues.
Source: Daily Mail UK