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AVON & SOMERSET POLICE: Officer’s sexual misconduct allegations proved

AVON & SOMERSET POLICE: Officer’s sexual misconduct allegations proved

The Portishead HQ of the Avon Fire and Rescue Service and Avon and Somerset Police. Stephen Sumner.

Wednesday 8 December 13:32

A predatory former Somerset police officer who manipulated a distressed victim into a year-long affair would have been sacked, had he not retired.

Married David Buckley had sex with the woman, Mrs AB, in Chard police station and in his patrol car, and when caught out told her to deny everything, a misconduct panel heard.

Three years prior, he abused his position to pursue an inappropriate relationship with an aspiring volunteer officer nearly 30 years his junior and threatened to prevent her ever becoming a police constable when they broke up.

He also used racist language towards a colleague he said was his children’s godfather, who had corroborated the young special constable’s claims.

The panel ruled that Mr Buckley would have been dismissed without notice and banned him from future policing roles – but he left the force with his pension intact after retiring weeks before misconduct proceedings against him began.

Representing Avon and Somerset Police, Elliot Gold said the former officer’s actions towards the two women was predatory and premeditated.

“The conduct was aggravated severely by gross dishonesty and deceitfulness in trying to ensure they don’t tell anyone about his actions,” he told the hearing at the Avon and Somerset Police HQ in Portishead on December 7.

“That demonstrates his knowledge that the behaviour he was engaging in was improper, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to persuade Mrs AB not to tell anyone and to fabricate a story with her, and with regards to the special constable, threats were made to prevent her ever becoming a police constable.”

He added: “This was an officer always on the lookout for an opportunity where there was a woman in a position of vulnerability. He would deliberately and ruthlessly seek to exploit them and to cause severe harm to those women for his own sexual gratification.

“This conduct was deliberate, intentional, targeted and planned. His behaviour was predatory.

“One woman is attempting to repair her relationship with her estranged husband. The special constable felt driven out … by misogynistic and bullying behaviour by an officer of this force.

“That will have a serious impact on public confidence.”

Mr Gold said Chard-based Mr Buckley manipulated Mrs AB’s vulnerability after she was involved in a collision in 2017 that injured her and her three-year-old son.

Their year-long affair started when the former officer went to her home to take a witness statement and began with him offering emotional support.

Mr Gold said: “When Mrs AB described sex with PC Buckley she said she thought he loved her. He showed her attention. On reflection, it was all for his benefit. Oral sex was always to him. He was always in control.”

The panel heard that the former officer told Mrs AB he was not willing to lose his job over their affair and made her delete their messages.

In May 2014 the special constable was 18 and then PC Buckley was her 47-year-old mentor. He was accused of subjecting her to controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour. It was always him who initiated sexual activity.

In a written statement, Mr Buckley, who did not attend the hearing, accused the special constable of lying about their relationship.

“I’ve always denied the allegations levelled against me. There is no evidence,” he said.

“I don’t have confidence in this process. The investigating officer was out to get me. This is a fait accompli.

“I don’t expect a proper outcome. There’s no fairness and no impartiality.”

Mr Gold said Mr Buckley’s criticism of the process was “calculated dishonesty, deceit, mistreatment and misdirection”.

His former friend, PC Stephen McCorry, said Mr Buckley did not speak to him for three years after he confirmed he had seen messages between him and the special constable indicating they were in a relationship.

While giving evidence in the investigation, PC McCorry revealed he had been racially abused by a woman he was arresting, and Mr Buckley used the same word to him on their next shift together.

“He came up to me and said ‘are you a P*** then?’ It was the first thing he said to me that night. I wasn’t happy. I told him he needed to watch what he said,” PC McCorry said.

He told the hearing he did not report the incident because the last time he did, he was treated like the problem, and “racist” colleagues had tried to get him into trouble.

“There was all sorts of bullying. There were racist comments being made,” he told the hearing.

“I didn’t expect support. I had no faith in the organisation to deal with it then or now.

“I was the underdog.”

Mr Gold said Mr Buckley’s use of racist language towards a colleague who felt unsupported had a “particularly unpleasant and profound effect”.

The panel found all allegations were proved and amounted to gross misconduct, and ruled that Mr Buckley would have been dismissed without notice if he had not already retired.

His name will be added to the barred list, preventing him from taking any future role in policing.


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