Brit cop banned from police after texting domestic abuse victim she was fit
A police officer has been barred from the force after being found guilty of gross misconduct for sending thousands of 'flirtatious' messages to victims of domestic abuse after he'd been called to their homes to help them.
A misconduct panel heard that former Greater Manchester Police officer Richard O'Connell had formed personal and sexual relationships with vulnerable women he'd met while responding to emergency calls between 2011 and 2018.
O'Connell, who had been in the force since 2006, told one woman he wanted to be her 'fella in a fun way' and another that she was 'really good looking'.
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The misconduct hearing at GMP headquarters heard how the police officer had even formed a sexual relationship and had a child with one woman he met through his duties, Manchester Evening News reports.
The panel heard that O'Connell pursued a relationship with the woman, referred to as 'Ms A', after attending her address in response to a 999 call in 2011.
Ms A was a victim of domestic violence and was classed as a vulnerable woman, who also had mental health and alcohol issues.
Despite being aware of this, O'Connell was described as behaving in an 'over-friendly' and 'flirtatious' manner with the woman and later returned to her home after initially responding to the emergency call, this time in his own car and not in uniform.
The misconduct panel found that "the officer asked Ms A out on the very day he met her in the course of his police work."
He began a relationship with Ms A and they had a child together in 2012.
The hearing was told that the officer later interfered in an investigation against him by contacting Ms A and concocting a story.
In November 2020, O'Connell pleaded guilty to offences contrary to section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 at Liverpool Crown Court after being found to have accessed police systems to view information about Ms A, which he had 'no policing purpose to do'.
The panel then heard that O'Connell had inappropriately contacted five other victims of domestic abuse he had met while on duty.
They heard that he told a victim, referred to as 'Ms B' that she was 'really good looking' and that 'under different circumstances' he would love to have 'bought her a drink in Yates'.
The officer exchanged 402 messages with Ms B, 240 from her and 162 from him, but claimed to have been mostly drunk when contacting her.
The panel heard Ms B had become increasingly concerned about the messages and told her mother and work colleagues about it.
A third 'vulnerable victim', referred to as Ms C, treated the police officer as a 'friend' and 'didn't find the messages uncomfortable' or 'think he'd done anything wrong," the hearing was told.
There were 430 'very friendly' voice calls and text messages between the officer and Ms C, 206 from Ms C and 224 from the officer. The panel heard how in one conversation O'Connell referred to her as 'fit' and having a short skirt.
Another woman, referred to as Ms D, was said to be a long-term victim of domestic violence and met O'Connell after reporting an incident with an ex-partner in 2017.
The pair then exchanged 2,448 messages in the next 10 months, 1,353 from Ms D, 1,095 from the officer, and 359 phone calls.
The panel concluded that the messages were 'clearly flirtatious' and 'not sent for policing purposes', with one message including the officer telling her he wanted to be her 'fella in a fun way'.
In 2018, the officer attended an incident involving a woman, referred to by the panel as 'Ms E', and her child.
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The panel was told he then sent her a message telling her his name was Richard as well as another message saying "I miss you".
Ms E said the messages, 24 in total, made her feel uneasy and uncomfortable at first and that she later found the message about him missing her "horrible".
The panel then heard about a 'very vulnerable' woman, referred to as 'Ms F' who saw the officer in relation to an allegation of assault in 2018.
She recalled that messages he had sent to her were 'random' and 'out of the blue, saying she found it strange and 'over familiar'.
In his defence, O'Connell told the hearing that he had a drinking problem and sent many of the messages while drunk, but provided no medical evidence to support this.
The officer has left the force but would have been dismissed if he was still serving, with the panel concluding that his behaviour constituted to gross misconduct and placing him on the barred list.
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