An on duty Northumbria Police officer who was found drunk in a police van has been found guilty of misconduct in a public office.
Helen Kane, 38, was over three times the legal drink-drive limit when a dog walker found her asleep behind the wheel of a parked police van on 3 November last year.
Three police dogs were seen inside the marked van, which was seen parked in the middle of a junction on Waggs Lane in Whickham, near Gateshead with its engine still running.
When the member of the public took a look inside, Kane could be seen "slumped" against the driver side of the car with a bottle of white wine between her legs.
Kane of Belmont, near Durham, stood trial last week at Teesside Crown Court charged with misconduct in a public office - which she denied.
On Friday - after less than an hour of deliberation - Kane was found guilty of the charge by a jury.
The two day trial heard Kane was an on duty police officer when a dog walker saw Kane "slumped" against the seatbelt of the driver's side of the police van - which was parked in the middle of a junction in the middle of the day.
Robin Turton, prosecuting, said: "After several bangs [on the window] the female police officer's head raised up and she wound down the window and had a brief conversation.
"The officer said she was alright, but when she was told she was parked in the middle of the road, she said: 'Am I?'.
"Between her legs was a brown wine bottle. When the member of the public was satisfied the driver was OK, she walked off but took a photograph of the police vehicle and phoned 999."
Kane was later breath tested at Southwick Police Station in Sunderland and gave a reading of 117 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath - the legal limit being 35 micrograms.
On the last day of the trial, Kane gave evidence and told the jury she was going through "personal and professional" difficulties at the time and she accepted she had been drunk on duty.
She told jurors that her professional troubles stemmed from a protest in Newcastle city centre when a member of the public was bitten by a police dog.
She said: "My police dog was wrongly identified as that dog. As a result, I was advised by Northumbria Police there was a risk to me."
Kane said that due to other issues in her personal life, she went to see a GP regarding her stress and anxiety and was prescribed anti-depressants. She explained she did not like taking time off work and "used alcohol to cope."
The jury heard that Kane had one previous conviction, which was for driving with excess alcohol relating to the same incident - which she had admitted.
She had no other convictions or cautions.
Superintendent Steve Ammari, head of the Professional Standards Department at Northumbria Police, said: “We are aware of the case involving a former officer and the offence for which they were convicted on Friday.
“When concerns were raised in relation to this individual we began an investigation and they were subsequently suspended from duty and misconduct proceedings were progressed."
He added: “At an accelerated misconduct hearing held in March they were dismissed without notice.
“We want to make it clear that the actions of this former officer were completely unacceptable.
“Her behaviour is in no way representative of the officers, staff and volunteers who every single day display the highest levels of professionalism and commitment to the communities we are proud to be a part of and to serve, he added.
“If anyone is found to have fallen below the standards expected we are committed to taking appropriate action.”
Kane will be sentenced on a date which is to be set, but is understood to be in December.
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