Sex cop spared jail

PC Simon Abell
PC Simon Abell

A Pc who sent sexually inappropriate texts and Facebook messages to a woman he met in his capacity as a serving officer walked free from court today.

Intelligence officer Pc Simon Abell was handed a six-month sentence, suspended for one year, at Nottingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office at an earlier hearing.

The court was told he sent inappropriate texts and Facebook messages between November 4, 2011 and the end of August 2012 to a woman he met in his capacity as a police constable.

Sentencing the 42-year-old, Judge Michael Stokes, Recorder of Nottingham, said: “You have pleaded guilty to a single offence of misconduct in a public office, which is always a serious offence.

“You were at the relevant time, and had been for over 20 years, a serving police officer.

“It is always a matter of regret and gravity when a police officer offends in this way.

“A police officer is in a position of trust in relation to all members of the community who he serves.”

The court heard Abell, who was based at Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, had been a serving officer for 23 and a half years.

The judge said: “It is quite inappropriate for a police officer to be engaging with someone who started as a potential witness in this sort of sexual innuendo.”

The court heard the complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, initiated contact with the officer in 2011 by sending him a Facebook message after being a potential witness in an earlier case.

She asked him in the Facebook message, sent on November 5, whether he remembered her.

Father-of-two Abell, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, replied: “Hi of course i remember a sexy lady like you. I remembered you in an instant xx. I was coming to see you, as i remember, then you didn’t invite me lol.”

A flurry of texts and Facebook messages between the pair then commenced.

The court heard that he had met the woman when she was a potential witness in a police investigation but at the time of the offences that case had been discontinued.

The matter came to the attention of the Professional Standards Directorate in September 2012 after a friend of the complainant handed a CD with screenshots of Facebook messages between Abell and the woman into Mansfield Police Station.

Abell, who appeared in the dock wearing a blue shirt, striped tie and black trousers and was seen to hold his head in his hands at times during today’s hearing, was arrested in January 2013.

He was suspended from Nottinghamshire Police and resigned in May this year after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office at Nottingham Crown Court.

The 42-year-old pleaded not guilty to two further misconduct charges of sexually inappropriate behaviour between November 4, 2011 and December 31, 2011, and on August 2, 2012.

The prosecution agreed that no further action should be taken against the officer, who has been suspended by his force, on the further charges.

In mitigation today, Harpreet Sandhu said: “He had not only lost his occupation but he had effectively lost his reputation. He is lucky that those who know him have stood by him”.

Abell’s partner and ex-wife were in court for the sentencing.

Mr Sandhu added that his client had shown “genuine remorse”.

He said: “The regret is not for him but for those who he has placed in a precarious position due to his offending”.

The judge noted that the complainant had initiated the contact but said she had been “undeniably vulnerable” and that Abell had “taken advantage” of that vulnerability.

He handed Abell a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.

The former officer was also ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work for the benefit of the community over the next 12 months.

Speaking after today’s hearing, Detective Superintendent Jackie Alexander, head of the Force’s Professional Standards Directorate, said: “Abell should have been there to protect vulnerable people and uphold the law but instead he abused his position and failed to meet the high standards of integrity and professionalism that we expect from all our officers and employees.

“We need to acknowledge that in all professions there will be a minority of individuals who try and use their position for abuse or sexual exploitation, and sadly this will, on occasion, also include these who work in policing. It is only by acknowledging this fact, and ensuring that where there is any suggestion of abuse a transparent and professional investigation is conducted, that we can then reassure the public that we continue to deserve their trust and confidence.

“Simon Abell not only acted criminally towards a vulnerable person, but he also let down the vast number of officers and staff who are committed to helping and supporting people in their time of need. I hope that this case does reassure the people of Nottinghamshire that we are actively committed to identifying and rooting out these kinds of behaviour when they occur.”


A former police constable will stand trial today (2nd January) accused of selling personal data from her force’s computer system.

Sugra Hanif, 27, of Bretch Hill, Banbury, Oxfordshire, faces two counts of obtaining and disclosing personal data from Thames Valley Police’s command and control systems and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

She will appear at Winchester Crown Court alongside Raza Khan, 27, of Ivy Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, who is charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and obtaining personal data, and his wife, Paramjeet Kaur, 26, from the same address, who is charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

It is alleged that between January 2011 and December 2011, Hanif sold information about accident victims to Khan and Kaur.

All three deny the charges.

Disgraced Cop In Racially Aggravated Assault


A disgraced former police officer has been ordered to pay £600 compensation to a doorman he attacked in a racially aggravated assault.

Pc James Balneaves, 29, wept in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court while receiving £1,510 in fines during his sentencing for racially aggravated assault.

Prosecutor Jonathon Swain said the incident occurred when Balneaves, who has since resigned from his role as a Metropolitan Police constable in Brent, refused to accept he was not allowed into a central London nightclub.

Mr Swain said an off-duty Balneaves, his girlfriend and a colleague tried to gain entry to the Opal Nightclub at Embankment on October 19 but the doorman, who was described in court as “Mr Ahmed”, refused them entry because his girlfriend appeared too intoxicated.

The prosecutor said Mr Ahmed asked Balneaves, who had alcohol on his breath, whether he had a booking and he replied: “No, but our friends are inside. Do you do a police discount?”

Mr Swain said Balneaves kept asking about a discount and the doorman told him the cost of entry was not the issue, but the fact his girlfriend was too drunk to enter.

He told the court Mr Ahmed began filming Balneaves when he became agitated and continued to ask about the discount while showing his warrant card, before he and a colleague picked him up and took him away from the entry.

Mr Swain said Balneaves then yelled at the doorman: “Get off me bloody foreigner, get off me f****** foreigner.”

He then punched the doorman twice, causing him a small cut to the inside of his lip.

Balneaves was then arrested and taken to Charing Cross police station.

Defence lawyer Mark Lake said his client resigned as a police officer immediately after he pleaded guilty to the offence earlier this month.

Mr Lake said Balneaves and his girlfriend had both had a bottle of wine each before trying to enter the nightclub and, while his client described himself as tipsy, he agreed his girlfriend was quite drunk.

He said his client should have known better being a police officer and moved along, but instead decided to argue and demanded to see the club’s manager while showing his warrant card.

He said the “catalyst” came when the doorman began filming Balneaves, who took offence.

The lawyer described his client, who wore a dark suit and navy tie in the dock, as a man of good character who had received two bravery awards and been injured while on duty.

“In many ways, this is a tragedy,” Mr Lake told District Judge Nick Evans.

“A few moments of madness… and he’s thrown away his career.

“That is a terrible consequence for him and one he’s going to regret for the rest of his life.

“When he leaves this court, regardless of the penalty you impose today, he leaves as a disgraced ex-officer who now has a conviction for racially aggravated assault, which may make it difficult for him to find further employment.”

Mr Evans fined Balneaves £750 for the racially aggravated assault and ordered he pay his victim £600 in compensation. He also had to pay a further £160 in court costs and fees.

The judge told Balneaves: “It’s a sad story when somebody in your position comes to this court and pleads guilty to this offence.”

Balneaves is still technically a police constable given his resignation will officially take effect on January 11 after his 28-day notice period has lapsed.

Corrupt ‘Fit-Up’ Cop Jailed


A former police officer who accepted a bribe to plant a shotgun in a bid to frame a man has been jailed for four years, police said.

Daniel Withnell, 31, was approached by Claire Smethurst to put the weapon in the man’s car for £19,000 between September 30 and October 30 last year.

He admitted two counts of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing and was today jailed at Manchester Crown Court.

Withnell, of Cranark Close in Bolton, also sent a fake tip-off by text to an officer on March 16, in which he claimed a hitman had been offered money to kill him.

He also used his position to access the force’s database to research a money laundering investigation, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

Smethurst, 48, of Westhoughton, Bolton, was found guilty of of perverting the course and was given a 15 month suspended sentence for her role in the plot at the same court on October 9, the force added.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: “The conduct of former DC Daniel Withnell fell well short of what is expected of a police officer.

“Police officers, staff and the communities of Greater Manchester would be appalled by his actions, which detract from the hard work that our officers and staff do on a daily basis.

“GMP expects the very highest standards of all its officers and staff. They should be honest and act with integrity and should not compromise or abuse their position.

“As soon as this conduct came to light, the Professional Standards Branch carried out a thorough investigation, supervised by the IPCC and as a result Mr Withnell has been convicted of two counts of misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice and Ms Smethurst has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.”

Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said Withnell faced a dangerous time in jail.

“Going to jail as a former cop is dangerous at any time, but going to jail as a former cop jailed for trying to fit up an innocent man and send him to jail marks Withnell out as a man with a price on his head.

“Withnell is the worst kind of corrupt cop, a loathsome individual who was willing to sacrifice the freedom of an innocent man in exchange for cash – a despicable low life whose past criminal arrests and convictions should now be the subject of review lest he has done this before – and got away with it.”

Top Cop Resigns Days Before Disciplinary Hearing


A senior detective whose chief constable husband was fired has resigned from the force ahead of a disciplinary hearing.

Detective Chief Inspector Heather Eastwood was alleged to have failed to have informed her superiors at Cleveland Police that she had been arrested following an incident at a railway station.

She is married to Sean Price, who in October became the first chief constable in 35 years to be sacked.

A disciplinary hearing found he was guilty of gross misconduct, having lied about his role in the recruitment of the former police authority chairman’s daughter.

Ms Eastwood was due to have faced disciplinary proceedings this week which will not go ahead now as she has resigned.

The allegation was that she did not inform superiors that she had been arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in 2011.

She was arrested at Northallerton railway station in North Yorkshire but, after questioning, no further action was taken.

When the alleged incident later came to light, the Independent Police Complaints Commission was informed and the detective was suspended.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a chief inspector who was due to face a misconduct hearing has now resigned from the force.

“As the individual is no longer a serving police officer they are no longer subject to disciplinary proceedings.”

The force could not say how this may affect her pension.

She was reported to be 41 and has recently had a child with Mr Price, who is 55.

Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said the practice of allowing police officers to quit on the quiet, instead of facing disciplinary charges brought against them, was fundamentally wrong.

Mr Leech said: “Figures released 18 months ago showed that in the previous two years almost 500 police officers had quit on the quiet rather than face disciplinary hearings, they each left with their character intact and their pensions untouched – one of whom was Simon Harwood who was later re-employed by the same police force who was not fully aware of his previous escape from a disciplinary hearing by resigning; this is the same man who was then later involved in the death of Ian Tomlinson.

“Thus obnoxious practice should cease.”


500 cops resign on the quiet

PC Simon Harwood

Corrupt cop jailed


A former police sergeant has been jailed for 10 months for trying to sell a story about celebrity Katie Price’s daughter to the News of the World.

James Bowes contacted the now defunct Sunday tabloid newspaper and told a journalist that police child protection officers had gone to the home of Price’s former husband Peter Andre in Brighton.

This followed a report that the couple’s daughter, Princess Tiaamii, then aged two, had been injured in 2010, the Old Bailey heard.

The team found no untoward injuries to the child and the matter was not taken further, the court was told.

But Bowes, who worked for in Brighton for Sussex Police, emailed the newspaper asking for money for the information.

The story was printed with information from another source and Bowes was never paid.

Bowes, 30, from Steyning, West Sussex, pleaded guilty last month to misconduct in public office.

The court heard that he passed information to the Sun newspaper about a child who was bitten by a fox and was paid £500.

And he passed on details of a psychic who had contacted police about a search for bodies in two former Brighton homes in 2010 of serial killer Peter Tobin, but was not paid.

Bowes was charged by officers from Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan Police investigation into police corruption.

Mr Justice Fulford told Bowes: “You have made available to the press confidential information concerning children.

“Your explanation is that it was a foolish attempt by you to be in some part associated with notorious or high-profile cases.”

Bowes had abused his position of trust and undermined the relationship the police had with the public.

Stephen Wedd, defending, said Bowes had now given £500 to the Crimestoppers charity, and had been dismissed by Sussex Police.

Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecuting, told the court that Bowes had access to the police computer to get information about the three reports in 2010.

Andre and Price had separated and there was a report of injuries to the couple’s daughter.

“The child protection team established no untoward injuries,” said Mr Bryant-Heron.

The following day Bowes emailed the News of the World news desk but was told that the newspaper already had the information.

“Clearly, the News of the World had access to other sources for information,” he added.

Bowes had emailed the Sun after a fox attacked a child at a birthday party and was paid after providing the contact details of the parents.

The father told the court he had to move his family away from their home until the fuss died down after the story was printed.

He also contacted the newspaper about the psychic who was later contacted by a journalist.

No story was published and Bowes was not paid, but the psychic said she had lost confidence in the police.

Mr Bryant-Heron told the court the child protection team “established very quickly that there were no bruises or injuries” to Tiaamii.

He said: “Peter Andre has made a statement saying he was hurt and embarrassed by the story.”


A policeman jailed for theft has been formally dismissed from the force.

Pc Ian Scouler, 46, – above- was found guilty of theft at London’s Southwark Crown Court on November 7 and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

He was formally dismissed yesterday, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement.

Separately, Pc Kenneth Potter, 30, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of theft and one count of handling stolen goods.

He received a five-month sentence for both counts, to run concurrently.

Potter put in a formal request to resign in June, which was accepted.

The pair were based in the disruption unit at Plumstead police station, in south London.

In 2010 and 2011, police received several complaints from the public regarding theft of money and property in cases handled by the unit, where addresses were searched or members of the public were stopped and searched on the street.

The Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) anti-corruption team launched an investigation, which was managed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Officers from the DPS carried out a covert operation and gathered evidence against the two officers.

They were both arrested on October 12 last year and suspended from duty.

They were subsequently charged on January 26 this year.

Commander Allan Gibson, of the DPS, said: “Where we have intelligence that officers may be breaking the law, we will be proactive and run covert operations to identify corruption.

“Both these men are now out of the police service and sitting in prison, having been found guilty of theft. The prosecution case was based on evidence gathered by the Directorate of Professional Standards.

“There is no place for criminals in the Met and the Directorate of Professional Standards will put anyone who thinks they are above the law before the courts.”