TWO rogue police officers have been jailed for sabotaging child abuse investigations at a ‘crisis-hit’ unit.
Former detective constables Sharon Patterson, 49, and Lee Pollard, 47, forged documents, concealed evidence and lied about investigations out of laziness and ‘cynical disdain’ for vulnerable victims, the Old Bailey heard.
Jurors were told Patterson ditched work to get a manicure and have a four-hour lunch at a Chinese restaurant with her married lover Pollard.
When she forged a document to shut down one investigation, Pollard described her as his ‘deceptive partner in crime’ in flirtatious emails, jurors heard.
The couple, of Colchester, Essex, denied wrongdoing between 2011 and 2014, citing administrative chaos at the child abuse unit in north Essex where they both worked.
In March, Pollard was found guilty of two charges of misconduct in public office and Patterson was convicted of one similar offence.
Judge Nigel Lickley QC jailed Patterson for 18 months and Pollard for two years.
He told them they had shown ‘contempt’ for victims when they chose to shut down investigations rather than put in the work, believing they would never be found out.
He told them: ‘People relied on you to do your job to the standard expected. You abused that position for your own selfish purposes.’
If pressure of work was a factor, they should have sought help rather than act as prosecutors, he said.
Earlier, prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC said the officers’ ‘deliberate and dishonest conduct’ had caused harm to the public of the ‘utmost seriousness’.
The convictions brought to a close a four-year corruption probe into the Essex Police unit which was undertaken by the nearby Norfolk force and the police watchdog.
Some 30 officers, some now retired, were investigated, and 296 Essex child abuse cases looked at, of which 55 were referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Patterson and Pollard were the only ones to face criminal charges, but a third officer was sacked for gross misconduct last year.