Diplomatic protection officer jailed for sex on duty

Ricci Giff arrives at Southwark Crown Court
Image caption Giff had been "foolish" and "unprofessional", the court heard

An armed diplomatic protection group police officer who left his patrol area to have sex with a woman, has been jailed for nine months.

Ricci Giff, 38, an officer with SO6, whose job included guarding Downing Street, disappeared while on duty on three occasions, in late 2011.

Each time, he met Melissa Ramsden, 37, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Married Giff, of Sandy, Bedfordshire, admitted three counts of misconduct in a public office.

On one occasion the pair met in the Peel Centre, at the Metropolitan Police's training centre in Hendon, north London - five miles from his patrol area.

Left radio on

She signed in under a false name.

On other occasions he went to Ms Ramsden's flat in Kilburn, north-west London, during night shifts.

His unattended police motorcycle was once found outside the flat by officers who raised the alarm in case he was in danger, only to see him come out and ride off.

Judge Anthony Pitts told Giff that what he did during their meetings was not important, but the fact he was unable to respond if there had been an emergency was.

The court heard Giff did leave his radio on while he was with Miss Ramsden, but the judge said: "It probably in fact made it quite difficult for you to respond quickly if you were in the middle of making love to her during these periods.

"[SO6] is a job of some responsibility and importance.

"Of course, most of the time there would not be an emergency.

"But, you are there as part of a unit in a designated area, on call ready to respond immediately to what may be an incident of extreme urgency. That is your job."

'Potentially catastrophic'

The court heard Giff met Ms Ramsden on other occasions, including one December 2011 shift when he was on duty outside Downing Street but on a legitimate break from his 12-hour shift.

After the shift he went to her flat and she posed for photos, including one in which she was naked apart from Giff's uniform utility belt, containing his firearm and Taser stun gun.

Ms Ramsden, who had a history of depression, was found dead at her flat on 22 December, days after their last meeting.

Their relationship was not the cause of her suicide, the court heard.

Claire Howell, prosecuting, said: "There were large periods of time where he was trusted to be within the patrol area ready to respond if required.

"He, more than anyone else, would have appreciated the potentially catastrophic results if anything had happened and there was a delay in the response time."

Richard Atchley, representing Giff who has two young children, said he apologised for his actions, especially to his wife and colleagues.

He said: "He has paid a high price for his foolish and unprofessional behaviour," he added, saying Giff never missed a check during his motorcycle patrol in the capital.

Giff, who has served for 15 years, remains a police officer pending disciplinary proceedings.

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