Gross misconduct proven against lying policewoman

A policewoman has had allegations of gross misconduct against her found proven after lying about her relationship with a juror involved in a murder trial.

Detective Constable Rebecca Bryant caused the convictions of three killers to be quashed after she failed to reveal a juror in a murder trial was her son’s girlfriend.

On Wednesday 19th June 2019 a police misconduct panel found two allegations against the South Wales Police officer amounted to gross misconduct and one allegation amounted to misconduct.

It found all three charges of misconduct constituted a breach of standards of professional behaviour, which related to her failing to reveal her relationship with Lauren Jones, lying about it when confronted by a senior officer, and suggesting the juror should mislead the court to get a day off jury duty for a hair appointment.

DC Bryant sent texts telling Ms Jones “Don’t tell them who you are” on the eve of the murder trial in 2016.

Chairman of the panel Peter Griffiths QC said DC Bryant’s failure to reveal the relationship “did not comprise of a one-off error of judgment at a time when her ability to think clearly was impaired, but was a continuing breach”.

On the charge of lying to Detective Chief Inspector Mark O’Shea about the relationship Mr Griffiths said: “It was a deliberate lie on her part to a senior officer who was investigating a matter of utmost importance.”

The panel found DC Bryant’s actions in advising Miss Jones to mislead the court so she could attend a hair appointment “fell short of amounting to outright dishonesty” and therefore was not gross misconduct.

But Mr Griffiths added: “What the officer suggested to Ms Jones was something a police officer should never have suggested in the context of the circumstances prevailing at the time.

“It was certainly not something done by a police officer acting with honesty and integrity, however in the panel’s view it fell short of amounting to outright dishonesty.”

Psychologist Dr Luan Pessol told the hearing it was “90% probable” DC Bryant was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder during the trial, which she claimed was triggered by working on a murder case which “affected her clarity of thought”.

But Mr Griffiths said the panel found her clarity of thinking “was not impaired” before or during the murder trial to a degree it could have interfered with her judgment and actions “as an experienced police officer”.

The misconduct panel will now consider sanctions against the officer.

DC Bryant’s relationship to Ms Jones was only discovered after Dwayne Edgar, Jake Whelan and Robert Lainsbury were sentenced to life in prison for knifing 29-year-old Lynford Brewster to death in Cardiff in 2016.

Their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal as a result, only for all three to again be jailed for life after a re-trial earlier this year.

 ‘Lying’ Policewoman Who Wrecked Murder Trial ‘Had Mental Health Problems’

A policewoman who wrecked three murder convictions after she lied about her relationship with a jury member was suffering with mental illness at the time, a misconduct hearing has heard.

Detective Constable Rebecca Bryant kept it secret that juror Lauren Jones was her son’s girlfriend, and sent texts telling her “Don’t tell them who you are” on the eve of the murder trial in 2016.

The officer’s relationship to Miss Jones was only discovered after Dwayne Edgar, Jake Whelan and Robert Lainsbury were sentenced to life in prison for knifing 29-year-old Lynford Brewster to death in Cardiff.

Their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal as a result, only for all three to again be jailed for life after a re-trial earlier this year.

Jonathan Rees QC, representing DC Bryant, argued that the disgraced officer should be allowed to keep her job with South Wales Police as her actions did not amount to gross misconduct.

The hearing in Cardiff was told a psychologist who assessed DC Bryant was “90% certain” she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder during the original trial, brought on by watching “harrowing” CCTV footage of Mr Brewster’s murder.

Mr Rees said: “The evidence is that it is 90% probable that at the time this officer was suffering from PTSD.

“The psychologist is 99% certain that would have affected her thinking at the time.

“She was working on a particularly harrowing case, viewing CCTV footage of a murder which occurred on camera and which triggered post traumatic symptoms.

“Sleep disturbance, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, highly anxious.

“Symptoms all of which in her opinion would have affected her clarity of thought. But symptoms that would not necessarily be apparent to others.”

Mr Rees said DC Bryant was “genuinely remorseful” for her actions, and said she was “thankful those responsible for murder have not escaped justice”.

The hearing was read extracts from an interview with DC Bryant after admitting her dishonesty, where she said: “I was embarrassed. I feel like I’ve let everyone down. I just feel terrible.

“I’ve never tried to appropriate blame to anyone other than myself.

“I am acutely aware of the gravity of my mistake. I can promise it will never happen again.

“I fully understand the impact on South Wales Police and the family of Lynford Brewster.”

Mr Rees added: “There is no evidence she intended to undermine the criminal justice process.”

Presenting officer Jeremy Johnson said in response that any PTSD suffered by DC Bryant at the time of the trial “does not begin to explain the quite extraordinary conduct of this officer”.

DC Bryant admits breaching standards of professional behaviour relating to her failing to disclose her relationship to Miss Jones, advising her to mislead the court to attend a hair appointment, and denying she knew Miss Jones when confronted by colleagues.

But she denies that her advising to Miss Jones about her hair appointment was dishonest behaviour, or that her actions amount to gross misconduct.

The hearing continues.

‘Lying’ policewoman who led to murder convictions being quashed – still works for the police

Three killers had their murder convictions quashed after a female police officer tried to hide the fact a jury member in their trial was her son’s girlfriend.

Detective Constable Rebecca Bryant lied about her relationship to juror Laura Jones, and sent texts telling her “don’t tell anyone who you are” during the murder trial in 2016.

The officer’s relationship to Miss Jones, a teaching assistant, was eventually discovered just weeks after Dwayne Edgar, Jake Whelan, and Robert Lainsbury, were sentenced to life in prison for knifing 29-year-old Lynford Brewster to death in Cardiff.

The three men then managed to get their convictions quashed in the Court of Appeal after a High Court judge ordered a retrial, accusing Det Con Bryant and Miss Jones of wasting court time and public money.

Lord Justice Treacy told the appeal hearing in July last year: “It is crystal clear that this juror should never have sat on this trial and that the assertion of objective bias is fully made out.

“In the circumstances, this trial was fatally flawed and the safety of the convictions is totally undermined.

“The folly of the juror and the police officer have wasted vast amounts of time and cost the public a great deal of money.

“Moreover, the agony for the victim’s family is inevitably prolonged.

“We very much regret that fact.

“However, there has not been a fair and proper trial because of the conduct of the officer and the juror and in those circumstances it is our duty to act.”

Text exchanges between the two women before the original trial at Cardiff Crown Court showed Det Con Bryant was aware Miss Jones could be involved as a juror, and also that both women knew Miss Jones worked at the school of victim Mr Brewster’s young nephew.

One text the police officer sent to Miss Jones read: “Remember what I sed (sic) though, as long as you don’t know any of the witnesses that’s fine.

“Don’t tell any of them who u r to me tho in case they think I’ve told u about it although u know I haven’t xxx”.

Det Con Bryant, who was working as a family liaison officer with Mr Brewster’s family during the court proceedings, initially lied about her relationship with Miss Jones after she was questioned by police, but later admitted the juror was in a long-term relationship with her son.

The officer is still employed by South Wales Police and is due to face disciplinary proceedings.

Assistant Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said: “When issues regarding the original trial came to light, the matter was voluntarily referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and has been investigated by the South Wales Police Professional Standards Department.

“Our investigation, which has also been subject of independent review, has not found any evidence that the officer intended to undermine the criminal justice process, and following a formal submission to the Crown Prosecution Service the matter will now be dealt with through South Wales Police disciplinary processes.

“Our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Brewster who we have continued to support throughout this difficult time.”

Edgar, Whelan and Lainsbury were all convicted of murder on Monday following their retrial at Bristol Crown Court, and will be sentenced on March 26.