South Yorkshire Police officer’s career ‘hanging by a thread’ after failing to report use of force helicopter to film couple having sex in garden
A South Yorkshire Police officer who was on board the force helicopter on the day it filmed a couple having sex in their garden tried to play down his role to a jury.
PC Matthew Lucas and his fellow crew members were supposed to be attending reports of a stolen scooter when the footage was captured, a police misconduct hearing heard.
A panel at the hearing found him guilty of gross misconduct and handed him a final written warning after he failled to report the inapproriate use of the helicopter when it was used to film naked subathers at a naturists' camp site near Doncaster and a couple having sex on their patio on July 28, 2008.
The panel found although he was not flying the aircraft and didn't have direct control of the camera, he demonstrated a 'passive awareness' to what was going on and failed to report it.
The hearing heard he was on board the aircraft on the day along with convicted 'rogue police officer' Adrian Pogmore, who was jailed in 2017 after admitting four counts of committing misconduct in public office.
Dad-of-two PC Lucas, who had served as a police officer for around 20 years, was cleared of similar charges and his solicitor, Sam Green QC, had made a request for the hearing to be dismissed last week.
But independent chairman Louisa Ciecora said there was important evidence which was not disclosed at the criminal trial, including from Pogmore himself, about his involvement in the incident.
Finding him guilty of failing to report the misuse of the helicopter, she said: "The evidence provided to the criminal trial was simply not his best recollection that he had of the incident at the time, but a deliberate attempt to minimise his knowledge and involvement."
Announcing Mr Lucas should be given a final warning, Ms Ciecora said: “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.”
She added: “It is suitable to the extent that public confidence will be retained in the force to give a final warning to the officer that his career in the force is hanging by a thread.”
Eight other allegations against Mr Lucas, 44, some of which related to a separate flight in July 2012, in which a woman was filmed sunbathing naked, were dismissed.
His former colleague Lee Walls, 49, who has now retired from the force, was cleared of three allegations that his conduct amount to a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, in relation to a flight he was on in August 2007, in which a woman was also filmed sunbathing naked in her garden, with her teenage daughters, who were wearing bikinis.
He was also cleared of failing to report misuse of the police helicopter.