Douglas Macdonald: Disgraced South Yorkshire cop who had relationship with girl is Afghan war veteran
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Former South Yorkshire Police officer and veteran Douglas Macdonald was revealed to have had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl, at a misconduct hearing last week.
The girl, referred to as 'Miss A' during the hearing, was vulnerable, unhappy at school and had a background of self-harming when the pair began communicating.
It emerged that he approached Miss A online in May 2017 and, in the two-year ‘relationship’ that followed, exchanged sexual and nude photographs with her and showed her "forceful" pornography.
Macdonald, who previously served in Afghanistan and was once viewed as a hero helping the community, was shown at the hearing to have used social media to approach children online by posing as a modelling agent.
He first met Miss A in person in November 2018 after she went missing from her family home. Instead of acting as a protector, he picked her up in the police car, made sexual comments and continued online contact that evening.
Daniel Hobbs, counsel for South Yorkshire Police's professional standards department head, Detective Superintendent Delphine Waring, said: “On that very evening, the former officer contacted Miss A and, on video call over Snapchat, showed her the pornographic video he was watching while he was m***********."
He went on to explain the graphic nature of Macdonald's communication with Miss A, including him asking the teenage girl "if she ever looked at older men and wanted to f*** them".
After serving in the army for eight years straight after leaving school, Macdonald joined Nottinghamshire Police as a PCSO and ultimately moved to the South Yorkshire force in 2016.
Throughout the period when the pair were in contact - May 2017 until August 2019 - Macdonald was between the ages of 30 and 32, and Miss A between 14 and 16.
In August 2019 Miss A, at that point aged 16, reported him to Crimestoppers. Macdonald threatened to kill himself if she did not retract the report and blocked her, leaving her "picking up the pieces," it was claimed.
In the same month, Macdonald talked to The Star about his role in Project Nova, where he supported veterans who had been arrested or were at risk of arrest, saying: "It’s not about veterans getting away with committing crimes.
"It’s about looking for missed opportunities to help and getting in touch with those we may have missed before to ask how they’re getting on and if there’s anything we can do to help.
"They are processed the same as anyone else, but military service can be taken into account if there are any mental health issues, just as a mental health condition would be taken into account for anyone else."
In 2019, he was also part of a nationwide drive to prevent young people being groomed by gangs to become drug runners. He added: "The best part of my job is getting to know people in the community and being able to have a positive impact on their lives."
At his misconduct hearing, Macdonald was alleged to have a "clear sexual interest" in children and adolescents, with almost 1,000 images of young girls in bikinis or underwear found on his Instagram cache upon his arrest in November 2020.
Nine allegations were proven and found to have amounted to 'gross misconduct' at the hearing, and if Macdonald had still been serving, he would have been dismissed.
His details have now been added to the College of Policing's 'barred' list.
He resigned from the force on December 31, 2022, after eight years of service, but has faced no criminal prosecution.
A CPS spokesperson said: "We take all allegations of sexual communication with a child seriously and do not underestimate the courage it takes to make a report to the police. We will always prosecute when the evidence provides a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to do so, in line with our legal test.
"In this case we considered the evidence referred to us by South Yorkshire Police and concluded it did not meet our legal test for a prosecution.
"After the complainant asked for a further review, a prosecutor with no previous knowledge of the case carefully examined all the evidence available and came to the same decision. We sent the complainant a letter setting out our reasons in December 2021."
It was claimed the ex-cop had an "established process" he deployed to make contact with children, where he set up Instagram pages which purported to be modelling pages.
Having drawn them in, he moved the conversation over to Snapchat because he felt it provided "a more secure platform from which he (could) have conversations with children and adolescents".
Miss A said in an interview with police: "He said that when I am 16 he is going to have sex with me, so he kept messaging me. I genuinely thought we were in a relationship and that when I was an adult, we would be together."
Prior to his misconduct hearing, MacDonald gave the response: "I don't wish to attend the upcoming hearing. I don't wish to defend the allegations made against me regardless of my belief in them."