Police helicopter officer avoids sack over sex films
A police officer who failed to report the filming of a couple having sex in their garden from a police helicopter has been given a final written warning.
Matthew Lucas, 44, was onboard South Yorkshire Police's aircraft when the 12-minute footage was captured in 2008.
He demonstrated a "passive awareness" to the incident and failed to report it, a misconduct hearing was told.
A panel ruled his failure amounted to gross misconduct and his position was "hanging by a thread".
The four-day misconduct hearing in Sheffield was told Mr Lucas and his colleagues had been requested to attend to reports of a stolen scooter.
The panel heard the father-of-two, of Chapeltown, did not fly the helicopter and may not have been involved in the actual recording on 28 July. But his colleague Adrian Pogmore, who was also onboard the aircraft, made the decision to film the couple having sex.
'Loss of confidence'
Giving the verdict, panel chairwoman Louisa Cieciora told Mr Lucas: "It must be right that members of the public have to be confident in police when officers are using a resource which is capable of invading their privacy that it is operated properly.
"It is suitable to the extent that public confidence will be retained in the force to give a final written warning to the officer that his career in the force is hanging by a thread.
"There was harm caused to the wider aims and objectives of the police, in that such conduct can lead to a loss of confidence in the police force."
Mr Lucas was also cleared of two other separate misconducts relating to recordings from the aircraft, one of a couple sitting in a naturist campsite in 2008 and the other of people sunbathing naked in 2012.
His colleague Lee Walls, 49, from Aston, Sheffield, was also cleared of misconduct by the panel in another incident in 2007 when he was onboard the helicopter while a naked woman was caught sunbathing on camera, alongside her two teenage daughters, who were in bikinis.
The pair were acquitted of misconduct in a public office by a jury following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court in August 2017.
Mr Pogmore, who was involved in all four incidents, was jailed for a year after he pleaded guilty to four counts of the same charge before the trial.
Ms Cieciora said Mr Lucas's misconduct had been aggravated by supposed inconsistencies between the account he gave to the misconduct hearing and the one he gave during the trial.