Two police officers sabotaged a string of child sex abuse investigations out of a combination of “cynical disdain” for accusers and laziness, a court has heard.
Detective constables Sharon Patterson, 49, and Lee Pollard, 47, forged documents and concealed evidence over a three-year period, the Old Bailey heard at the opening of their trial on Thursday.
The Essex Police officers, who were in a relationship, discussed a plot over email, with Pollard thanking Patterson as his “partner in deceptive crime”, jurors heard.
Alexandra Healy QC, prosecuting, said: “The allegations against them involve the forging of documents, concealment of evidence and the misrepresentation of the state of investigations, and the evidence involved in investigations, to supervising officers.
“The effect was that allegations involving child sex offences were not properly investigated.
“The motivation appears to have been a combination of laziness, self-preservation and sometimes a cynical disdain for complainants in these child abuse allegations.”
The officers, who live together in Colchester, Essex, each deny three counts of misconduct in a public office between 2011 and 2014.
The allegations came to light when performance reviews were carried out into the child abuse investigation team, in the north of the county, which they worked in.
But the defendants’ conduct went “beyond incompetence” and was not because of a “lack of resources” or “insufficient investigative manpower”, the prosecutor said.
One count against Patterson involves a teenager who said that – from the age of six – she was regularly raped by her father over some five years, which was seemingly supported by a sister’s previous allegations.
Patterson interviewed their mother who gave “highly relevant” details, but the officer instead record that she was “unwilling” to make a statement, it was alleged.
But the mother’s persistence proves this to be “completely untrue”, the prosecutor said, with the mother later leaving an “urgent” message with another officer asking Patterson to update her.
Patterson, jurors heard, emailed back to her colleague: “URGENT!!!! F***ing cheek of the woman!! I have left tons of messages on her answermachine and she NEVER responds to them.”
Then Patterson allegedly advised a supervisor that the case should be dropped, saying the claims were down to a “bitter” ex-wife trying to make life difficult for her husband, who seemed a “broken man”.
It was decided the case should not even be passed to the CPS for a charging decision, with a supervisor citing the mother not being willing to corroborate evidence as a key reason.
Patterson’s “deceit”, the prosecutor said, “directly contributed to this investigation being brought to a close”.
Jurors were shown emails said to have been sent after Patterson shared an “absolutely fabricated” prosecutor’s report.
Patterson to Pollard: “As requested lover…”
Pollard: “Thanks partner in deceptive crime.”
Patterson: “I am starting to think of myself as so deceptive!!”
Pollard: “So you should you deceptive bastard. Why don’t you want me to come and feed your cat? Don’t you trust me in your house?”
Patterson: “No… youre a deceptive bastard.”
In another investigation, it is alleged Patterson forged an accuser’s signature and falsely claimed to prosecutors that two teachers who may have been witnesses were dead.
Pollard allegedly removed and destroyed four photographs that were “important exhibits” to an investigation and also misrepresented evidence to his supervisor so no further action was taken in a separate probe.
The trial of the officers, who live in Littlefield Road, continues on Friday.