Police officer denies trying to start sexual relationship with harassment suspect

October 29 2020
Police officer denies trying to start sexual relationship with harassment suspect

A MARRIED police officer who sent 80 texts and Instagram messages to a vulnerable woman accused of harassment has denied pursuing a sexual relationship with her.

PC Jonny Wall said he empathised with the “heartbroken” suspect, who had just broken up with a man and was threatening suicide.

The officer with 20 years’ experience said he wanted to support the woman, referred to in the hearing as Miss A, so sent her messages on his work phone and then took the conversation onto Instagram so he did not cut her off.

He sent messages complimenting her looks and personality, described her ex-partner as “punching above his weight” and said how easy it would be to find someone new.

PC Wall, who was based in Emersons Green, signed off three messages with a kiss but told a misconduct hearing they were “habitual” and a mistake.

Representing Avon and Somerset Constabulary, barrister Mark Ley-Morgan said: “PC Wall knew it’s an absolute no-no for an officer to be communicating using his personal Instagram account with someone he met through the profession.

The officer behaved in the way he did because he wanted to establish a sexual or inappropriate emotional relationship with Miss A.

He was told she was feeling suicidal. The breakup had had a devastating effect on her. Her reaction to the relationship coming to an end was extreme.

He described her ex as ‘punching above his weight’.

A member of the public reading these messages would wonder what’s going on – why is a police officer talking to her like this about how she’s been treated?

It discredits the police force.”

PC Wall said moving the conversation onto Instagram was “not my best idea” but “I didn’t want to cut off and have no contact”.

He told the hearing he felt a bond with Miss A because they had both served in the armed forces, as had her ex, and because of how he felt when his first marriage had ended.

He said: “This chap had promised her the world. They’d had a fantastic 10 days and he just ended it without reason. I could relate to it. I felt sorry for her.
“I thought if I could impart some wisdom it could only be a good thing.

I joined the police service to help people. I wanted to give her peace of mind.”

Mr Ley-Morgan said the officer had gone from telling Miss A not to have any contact with her former partner, who was referred to at the hearing as Mr B, to facilitating it.

PC Wall had suggested that she wrote a letter to Mr B but did not send it. At her request he later called Mr B to ask if he would accept it because the issue was not going to go away.

Barrister Ramin Pakrooh said that was the definition of harassment.

When the officer was “no longer able to help”, Miss A went to confront Mr B.

PC Wall told the hearing: “With hindsight, I ask myself what I was thinking. At the time I just had no alarm bells from this.

This was an absolutely unique circumstance.

I wasn’t trying to strike up a sexual relationship with Miss A – never in 1,000 years did that come into my mind. That’s one of the most disrespectful things you can do.

I’m the happiest married man in this room. I would never jeopardise what I have now.”

The hearing continues.

By Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporting Service