Somerset

PC sacked over Sports Direct basketball spat

Avon And Somerset Police HQ
Image caption An Avon and Somerset Police misconduct hearing found the officer guilty of gross misconduct

A police officer tried to claim a basketball not for sale in Sports Direct was his - then threatened to take a shop assistant to the police station when she challenged him.

The PC, whose name was redacted by a misconduct panel, insisted the ball was his, claiming "finder's rights".

He later filed criminal accusations against the shop manager in a bid to excuse his own behaviour.

The officer was found guilty of gross misconduct and sacked by the panel.

The hearing by Avon and Somerset Police was told the officer's son found the ball in the shop in August 2018.

When a shop assistant said it was lost property and not for sale, the officer claimed "finder's rights", showed her his warrant card and said, "You, me, down to the police station", leaving her upset and intimidated.

'Ridiculous'

The following day, the shop manager took the ball into Wells Police Station and complained about the officer's behaviour. In response, the PC accused him of theft and filed criminal accusations against him.

His behaviour was found by the panel to amount to misconduct and his subsequent dishonest reporting of crimes by the manager represented gross misconduct.

Chairman Derek Marshall said it was a "ridiculous and disproportionate spat" and the behaviour was "bullying, disrespectful and a wholly disproportionate and inappropriate misuse of his position of authority as a police officer".

He said the allegation that the officer "dishonestly tried to criminalise people for offences he knew had not been committed in order to excuse his own behaviour" was "just about the most serious thing an officer of the law can be accused of".

The PC, who had served with Avon and Somerset Police since 1993 and worked in the Mendip area, was dismissed without notice.

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