Prize-winning detective found guilty of drink-driving to the South Yorkshire police station he works at

A prize-winning detective has been found guilty of drink-driving to the South Yorkshire police station he works at.

Friday, 2nd March 2018, 3:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th March 2018, 3:15 pm
Robert Hunt receiving his Detective of the Year award in 2016

During a hearing held on Wednesday, Doncaster magistrates found that Detective Constable Robert Hunt, was drunk when he drove to Rossington Police Station in Doncaster just before 7pm on October 20 last year to meet with Detective Chief Inspector Jade Brice.

Richard Davies, prosecuting, told the court that Hunt's offending was brought to light when DCI Brice detected a smell of alcohol in the room during the meeting with Hunt, the point of which was to discuss misconduct proceedings being brought against him.

Hunt, 48, brought his 'acquaintance,' Inspector David Westwood, who works for West Yorkshire Police, to the meeting with him in his capacity as a representative for the Police Federation.

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The court was told that in addition to the smell of intoxicants, DCI Brice observed Hunt looking 'glazed' during the 20-minute meeting.

Mr Davies said: "Detective Brice believed he could detect intoxicants and said: 'Which one of you has been drinking?'"

Insp Westwood told DCI Brice he had drunk a shandy earlier that day, and after Hunt confirmed he had driven the pair to the station, he was arrested on suspicion of drinking with excess alcohol and was asked to take a breath test.

Hunt tested positive for alcohol during an initial breath test at Rossington Police Station, and during a second test at Doncaster Police Station he was found to be over the limit, with 50 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 mililitres of breath.

The legal limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 mililitres of breath.

Following the breath test, Hunt, who has worked for the police for almost 25 years, was remanded into custody at Doncaster Police Station.

When interviewed in the early hours of the following morning, Hunt provided a prepared statement in which he said he had consumed alcohol after arriving at, but before entering, the police station to give him some 'Dutch courage' ahead of the misconduct meeting.

Giving evidence, Hunt said he brought a plastic water bottle 'almost half full' with vodka with him to the meeting and drank the lot in 'two to three gulps' in his car when he arrived at the police station.

Hunt, who won South Yorkshire Police's Detective of the Year Award in 2016, said he consumed the alcohol after Insp Westwood had exited the vehicle and gone to the boot to pick up, and look through, his notes.

Hunt said he threw the bottle 'over his shoulder' into the back of his car after finishing all of the vodka.

Insp Westwood told the court that he did not see Hunt drinking alcohol, nor did he believe Hunt's behaviour, both before and during the meeting, had given him any reason to think he had been drinking.

Acting Police Sergeant, Ross Masters, told the court how he conducted a 'thorough' search of Hunt's vehicle on the morning of October 21, while Hunt was still in custody, and did not find a plastic water bottle or 'any container he could have drunk from' in his Ford S-Max vehicle.

After leaving Hunt's premises, the court was told how Hunt's wife, Susan Hunt, who had been present for the search, left PS Masters a voicemail in which she indicated she had found a plastic water bottle in Hunt's car after he had left.

PS Masters said: "She said there was a drinks container in the rear of the vehicle."

Hunt, of Clayworth Drive, Bessacarr told the court that he found the water bottle in the drawer of the driver-side rear door, while Mrs Hunt said she had found the water bottle in the drawer of the passenger-side rear door .

Both Hunt and Mrs Hunt said they found the bottle minutes after Hunt had returned home from custody.

Magistrates found Hunt guilty of driving with excess alcohol.

The lead magistrate told him they had reached this decision because they found it 'difficult to believe' that he firstly would have been able to consume the volume of alcohol he specified at the speed he said; and secondly that PC Masters would not have discovered the water bottle during his search of the vehicle.

Hunt was disqualified from driving for 12 months and was ordered to pay a fine of £738, costs of £620 and a victim surcharge of £73.

Hunt's solicitor, Gwyn Lewis, lodged an appeal against the magistrates' findings at the conclusion of the trial, which was accepted.

The magistrates agreed that Hunt's driving ban would be on hold until the conclusion of his appeal.

Hunt's appeal is due to be heard at Sheffield Crown Court at a date yet to be fixed.

Following the trial, a spokesman for South Yorkshire Police confirmed Hunt has been suspended from duties, pending the outcome of an internal disciplinary hearing.

Head of Professional Standards for South Yorkshire Police, Detective Superintendent Dave Barraclough said: “DC Hunt’s behaviour falls well below the high standards expected of our officers and he will be considered for internal disciplinary action.”