A police officer was given a restraining order after being accused of harassing his “vulnerable” ex-girlfriend, a misconduct hearing has been told.
Pc Gareth Hodges is accused of causing the single mother to live in fear after he repeatedly sent unwanted calls, texts, and emails for two weeks, culminating with him “threatening” her and turning up uninvited to her home.
The hearing at Gwent Police’s headquarters in Cwmbran was told the pair had been in an “on again, off again” relationship for seven months before the woman – referred to as Ms X – called it off in May last year.
Despite being told she did not want any further contact Pc Hodges, who has served as an officer for 15 years, repeatedly attempted to call her as well as sending WhatsApp messages, letters, and 17 emails over a 12-day period.
Case presenter Briony Ballard said that on May 9 the woman telephoned him by mistake while trying to block his number and the next day she responded to an email from him explaining it was a mistake and did not want further contact.
Ms Ballard said: “His response on May 10 was: ‘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. I’m glad I walked away from you’.”
She said another email from him hours later said: “I hope you live your life with full regret that I could have provided what you didn’t have in your life.”
Ms Ballard said: “We say the tone is nasty and its content explicitly threatening to ‘take it all the way’.”
Following an uninvited visit to her home the woman reported Pc Hodges to police on May 16 who arrested him under the Protection from Harassment Act.
The hearing was told Pc Hodges was given a nine-month restraining order related to the woman at a magistrates’ court despite the police officer being acquitted of harassment.
Ms Ballard said the woman was “vulnerable” after experiencing domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband and that Pc Hodges should have recognised his actions had the potential to cause her to become distressed.
“We don’t suggest it’s targeted or calculated with known intent. We say a reasonable man would or should have recognised it would’ve caused distress or alarm and he accepts that,” she said.
Ms Ballard added: “He is a very experienced officer. He’s had 15 years’ service on the front line policing. He’s well aware of legislation which protects individuals from harassment.”
In a witness statement the woman said she felt scared Pc Hodges would “do something to harm me or my children”.
“Knowing he’s a police officer makes it worse as these are the people we’re meant to trust,” she said.
Pc Hodges has admitted breaching standards of professional behaviour relating to conduct amounting to harassment as well as receiving his non-conviction restraining order.
But he denies the breaches amount to gross misconduct, arguing they only amount to the lesser finding of misconduct.
Nick Hawkins, defending, said Pc Hodges accepted harassing the woman and recognised it as “a serious matter” but said it was “not the worst case of harassment that’s ever been brought to a misconduct hearing”.
Mr Hawkins said: “He of course recognises, looking back, he knew he behaved reprehensibly, in a manner which caused distress and in a manner best described as immature.
“But his intention was not to cause harm or distress, it was to rekindle a relationship that had been successfully rekindled a few times before.”
He said Pc Hodges’ compliance with the restraining order showed his “genuine remorse and insight”.
The hearing continues.