A Hampshire Police detective has been convicted of forging signatures on a witness statement during a murder investigation into the brutal killing of a mother of five.
Detective Constable Robert Ferrow was investigating the death of Lucy-Anne Rushton, who was murdered by her estranged husband Shaun Dyson in 2019.
He denied a charge of forgery at Winchester Crown Court but was convicted on Friday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.
Ferrow, 50, who has 18 years’ experience as an officer, will be sentenced on September 10.
The week-long trial heard the case concerned a witness statement given by an Ashley Grace-O’Neill to Ferrow on June 23 2019.
When Mr Grace-O’Neill asked to leave the police station and return the next day, he says that Ferrow suggested he sign some blank witness statement pages so that the officer could finish copying out a set of text message screenshots Mr Grace-O’Neill had provided.
The witness agreed, but said he told Ferrow he still wanted to return and read the statement to check it was accurate. Mr Grace-O’Neill said the detective agreed.
However, when Mr Grace-O’Neill returned the following day asking to read his statement, no-one was able to help, the court heard.
When he eventually saw the statement, he said that some pages that had been completed had not been signed by him, the prosecution alleged.
“Those not made by him had been forged,” prosecutor Robert Bryan told jurors.
Ferrow denied forgery and claimed that Mr Grace-O’Neill signed more than enough pages and that two spares were left over.
Mr Bryan suggested that Ferrow’s conduct “strikes right at the heart of justice”.
He added: “The fact is Mr Ferrow you simply got yourself into a position which you should not have got yourself into by using blank sheets of paper, and you miscalculated and you signed them yourself.”
Reacting to the verdict, IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Lucy-Anne.
“Knowing a police officer had forged a signature on a witness statement, which was part of the evidence against Shaun Dyson, can only have added to their distress.”
He added that Ferrow’s actions could have had “serious ramifications” for the murder trial.
Mr Beesley added: “The public expects the highest standards of police officers. For him to fall so short would have caused Lucy’s family distress and undermined the public’s faith in the police service.”