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Police officer avoids sack over failure to report footage of a couple having sex

A police officer who failed to report an incident in which a couple were filmed from a helicopter having sex in their garden has been told his position is "hanging by a thread".

Police Constable Matthew Lucas, of South Yorkshire Police, was on-board the aircraft when the 12-minute footage was captured.

Credit: PA

Mr Lucas and his colleagues had been told to attend to reports of a stolen scooter, a misconduct hearing was told.

A panel heard how, although the 44-year-old did not fly the aircraft and may not have been involved in the actual recording itself on July 28 2008, he demonstrated a "passive awareness" to what was going on and failed to report it.

Following a four-day misconduct hearing in Chapeltown, Sheffield, it was ruled his failure to report the incident amounted to gross misconduct.

Outlining the decision to give him a final written warning, chairwoman of the panel Louisa Cieciora told the father-of-two:

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.

"It is suitable to the extent that public confidence will be retained in the force to give a final written warning to the officer that his career in the force is hanging by a thread.

"There was harm caused to the wider aims and objectives of the police, in that such conduct can lead to a loss of confidence in the police force."

– Louisa Cieciora

The panel was told how the decision to film the couple having sex was made by Adrian Pogmore, who was also on-board the aircraft on the day.

Mr Lucas, of Chapeltown, Sheffield, had also been accused of misconduct in relation to another incident, which also occurred on July 28 2008, in which another couple were filmed from the helicopter as they sat naked in a naturist campsite.

He was cleared by the panel of any wrongdoing in relation to that incident, as well as another one on July 22 2012, when he was an observer on a police helicopter when footage was taken of people sunbathing naked.

Meanwhile, former officer Lee Walls, 49, from Aston, Sheffield, was also cleared by the panel of misconduct after being on-board a helicopter when a naked woman was caught sunbathing on camera on August 23 2007, alongside her two teenage daughters, who were in bikinis.

The pair stood trial at Sheffield Crown Court in August 2017 accused of misconduct in a public office, but were cleared by a jury.

Before the trial, Mr Pogmore, who was involved in all four of the incidents, pleaded guilty to four counts of misconduct in a public office.

He was later handed a year-long jail sentence.

Ms Cieciora said Mr Lucas's misconduct had been aggravated by supposed inconsistencies between the account he gave to the misconduct hearing and the one he gave during the trial.

Richard Wright, who represented the police during the hearing, said Mr Lucas's failure to report the incident had impacted upon the public's confidence in the force, saying:

It would an affront to that confidence for the officer to remain in his position."

– Richard Wright