Demi Love would have been sacked from the force had she not already resigned, misconduct panel rules, after she caused £2,000 of damage
An off-duty police officer caused thousands of pounds of damage to a McLaren Formula 1 racing car on display at a hotel when she kicked it as if “taking a penalty”, a disciplinary hearing has been told.
Demi Love, a constable with Hampshire Police, had been staying at a Hilton Hotel near Wembley with friends in order to attend a Spice Girls concert in June 2019.
At the time, the bright orange Formula 1 car, which had been driven by double world champion Fernando Alonso for McLaren during the 2018 season, was on display in the reception area.
However, after downing four cocktails in the hotel bar, Ms Love was spotted running up to the car and kicking it hard.
The hotel manager, who witnessed the incident, said Ms Love looked “like she was taking a penalty” and it was later established that she had caused £2,076 worth of damage.
The officer was subsequently charged with criminal damage but the case was later dropped when she paid to have the car repaired.
Officer guilty of discreditable conduct
Ms Love, who later resigned as a police officer, denied that she had intentionally kicked the car and claimed she had simply tripped and collided with it, despite CCTV footage suggesting otherwise. [J4MB emphasis]
But a gross misconduct panel found her guilty of discreditable conduct. She was also found to have breached standards of honesty and integrity, by lying during the investigation into the matter.
The misconduct panel ruled she would have been sacked from the force had she not already resigned.
Barrister Stephen Morley, prosecuting on behalf of the Professional Standards Department, told the Hampshire Constabulary Misconduct Hearing: “PC Love said in interview she had about four cocktails but denied she was drunk.
“Upon leaving the hotel, in the reception area of the hotel something happened with a car parked in the foyer. This wasn’t just any car, this was a McLaren Formula 1 car.
“CCTV footage captures PC Love and her friends coming out of the lift, turning left and stopping momentarily. It looks like a group of young ladies who had had a few drinks.
“The footage shows PC Love stopping a few feet away from the vehicle then quickly moving towards it, kicking it, turning around and going back to her friends.”
Mr Morley explained that the incident was captured from four different angles, showing Ms Love first looking to her left “as if to check if the coast was clear”.
But she was seen by the hotel manager Ross Blezard, who was standing about 10 yards away from the car at the time.
Mr Morley said: “[He said] I was looking in the direction of the car and I saw the lady running for three steps at speed before kicking it hard enough to cause a loud bang, like she was taking a penalty. She started laughing and giggling.”
The misconduct hearing was told that while the damage was relatively small, it still cost £2,076 to repair.
Mr Morley said Ms Love appeared in magistrates court for the offence of criminal damage, to which she pleaded not guilty. The Crown Prosecution Service later dropped criminal proceedings after Ms Love paid for the damage she had caused.
Mr Morley said: “PC Love says this was all a complete accident. She says she was moving towards her friends… she says she tripped or slipped and fell onto the vehicle.
“The footage and Mr Blezard’s account… makes it clear that she didn’t slip or fall, she was walking with purpose towards the vehicle.
“We say that the footage and PC Love’s account simply do not tally.”
Adamant the damage was accidental
Sergeant Anderson Moray, representing the former officer, read out a short statement to the panel which said: “PC Love has consistently denied that she deliberately damaged the car.
“She accepts having drinks with her friends, she accepts having contact with the car, and she accepts that she caused the damage.
“She regrets her actions but remains adamant that the damage was accidental. She has taken responsibility for causing the damage and taken steps to put it right.”
Harry Ireland, chairman of the misconduct panel, said: “In the first 15 seconds [of the footage] the former officer can be seen to make a deliberate movement with her right foot into the car body.
“There was no fall or trip, it was a deliberate action.”
Both charges were found proven and the panel made the finding that, had Ms Love not already resigned, she would have been dismissed.
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