Gwent PC dismissed for 'harassing' ex-girlfriend after break-up
An officer from Gwent Police has been dismissed for gross misconduct after he harassed his vulnerable ex-girlfriend following a break-up.
Police Constable Gareth Hodges, 48, caused “alarm and distress” to the single mother by turning up at her home late at night after inundating her with unwanted calls, texts and emails over a two-week period.
On Wednesday (August 5) a misconduct panel in Cwmbran decided to dismiss the officer and place him on the policing Barred List after finding his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct.
PC Hodges had admitted harassing the woman – known only as Ms X – and receiving a non-conviction restraining order against contacting her, but argued he should have kept his job.
Presenting officer Briony Ballard told the hearing: “Ms X was emotionally vulnerable, and he should have been aware of that.
“He should have realised attending her house at night when she was alone was likely to increase her alarm and distress.”
The hearing was previously told the woman was “vulnerable” after experiencing domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.
PC Hodges’ “on again, off again” seven-month relationship with the woman ended in May last year, but he was said to have repeatedly ignored her instructions not to contact her as he attempted to rekindle their relationship.
It included sending her 17 emails over the course of 12 days, which were said to have then turned “nasty” and “threatening” with one which said: “You’ll never have any contact from me again, but don’t slag me off or bad mouth me because if I find out you have I’ll take it all the way.”
The unwanted contact culminated in him making the uninvited visit to her home, and lead to her making a complaint to police who arrested PC Hodges under the Protection from Harassment Act.
He was later given a nine-month restraining order related to Ms X at a magistrates’ court despite being acquitted of harassment.
The divorced father-of-two from Monmouthshire told the hearing he had been “devastated” and “embarrassed” by the proceedings against him, but claimed he deserved “a chance to put things right”.
He said: “I’ve made an error, but I don’t think I deserve to lose my job. It’s important to me and my family.
“I still have an awful lot to give to Gwent, and feel I can do that.”
The hearing was told he earned a salary of £40,128 working in neighbourhood policing in Chepstow, but had most recently been placed to work in a non-public facing role following proceedings against him.
He had also earned two chief constable commendations for improving community safety and for bravery while dealing with a man brandishing a firearm.
But the officer stormed out of the force’s headquarters in Cwmbran after being informed of the decision to sack him before it was formally announced in public.
Nick Hawkins, defending, told the panel: “He took your final six words literally and has accepted he is no longer a police officer and has left police premises.”
Panel chairwoman Susan Davies said despite PC Hodges’s previously “exemplary career” his harassment of Miss X and the resulting restraining order meant only an immediate dismissal could be justified.
She said: “His behaviour was so serious the only way public confidence and trust in Gwent Police could be maintained was by dismissal.”