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West Midlands Police officer who kissed vulnerable woman dismissed

Police officer who kissed a vulnerable former victim of domestic violence and told her he liked the ‘thought’ of her ‘butt cheeks’ is dismissed for gross misconduct

  • PC David Owen told the woman she was ‘beautiful and deserved happiness’
  • He shared a kiss with the woman, named only as female A, after meeting twice
  • Officer continued messaging her while being investigated by police watchdog 

A West Midlands Police constable who kissed a vulnerable member of the public after striking up an ’emotional’ and ‘flirtatious’ relationship with her has been dismissed from the force.

PC David Owen told the woman, a former victim of domestic violence, she was ‘beautiful and deserved happiness’ on social media after being deployed to her home.

He shared a kiss with the woman, named only as female A, after meeting twice – once at a Costa and a second time at her address where she cooked dinner for him.

While being investigated by the police watchdog over their contact, Owen – who had been with the force for 18 years – messaged her to say he was ‘in the wrong job’ if having feelings for her was wrong. 

The two-day disciplinary hearing, which concluded at West Midlands Police HQ on Friday, also heard he made ‘repeated’ remarks referring to female A’s ‘butt cheeks’ as their conversations developed.

In one message, PC Owen said the thought of her ‘bottom cheeks’ in her ‘pyjamas’ had ‘kept me going’. 

He admitted misconduct but the panel decided his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct for pursuing the inappropriate relationship and also a data breach.

West Midlands Police constable David Owen, who kissed a vulnerable member of the public after striking up an ’emotional’ and ‘flirtatious’ relationship with her has been dismissed from the force

Dismissing Owen from the force without notice, chair Colin Phillips noted he was a ‘competent police constable with no previous performance issues’.

Owen had met the woman years before when she was a victim of domestic violence, the hearing was told.

They remembered each other when he visited her home alongside two other officers on February 4, 2019, following reports she had gone missing.

After clocking off work, Owen used his police phone to check logs on her due to a ‘concern for her welfare’.

He used his work mobile again in the ‘middle of the night’ and the following day (February 5) to check police logs relating to female A three times while off duty.

‘That information was confidential including information about medication and previous suicide attempts,’ Mr Phillips, chairing the disciplinary, said.

The hearing was told Owen then messaged the woman on Facebook to ask how she was – whilst admitting the contact was ‘not professional’.

The message read: ‘Hi, I’m Dave – cop who came to your address earlier. I’m sorry for asking on Facebook, I would rather ask off the record not very professional of me, I know.

‘How did you get on with the home treatment team? Please don’t be offended by me messaging on Facebook.’

She replied to say she was glad to hear from him and he offered to chat ‘any time’ to discuss her mental health.

They spoke of his dog and her experience with dating apps in further messages on the following days.

He then went on to say she was ‘beautiful and intelligent and deserved happiness’, the disciplinary heard.

In one message, female A told him she didn’t have her pyjamas on as they were in the wash – a ‘thought’ PC Owen told her would ‘prevent him from working properly’.

‘There were comments on her figure and repeated remarks on her “butt cheeks”, Mr Phillips added.

The comment – ‘the thought of your pyjamas has kept me going’ – was mentioned and Mr Phillips said: ‘He said: “I think it’s more your bottom cheeks in them.”

The pair met up on two occasions, first meeting for a drink at Costa in Merry Hill shopping centre and later meeting for dinner after an invite to female A’s home address.

The disciplinary hearing at West Midlands Police HQ (pictured), heard that PC David Owen told the woman, a former victim of domestic violence, she was ‘beautiful and deserved happiness’ on social media after being deployed to her home

He attended her house in partial uniform and hugged and kissed her, the hearing was told.

There was no complaint made against PC Owen, by female A or anyone else.

But the IOPC became involved when she confided in a friend who happened to work for the police watchdog.

‘He continued to communicate with her and became aware that the IOPC was investigating,’ John Goss, for West Midlands Police, told the hearing.

‘He says a sexual relationship was never his intention and it never became sexual. 

‘We don’t say that this was a sexual relationship, but that it was intended to be one and was in the early stages.

‘It was a case of not doing the right thing.’

The PC told her: ‘I don’t know what the future holds friends is a start’.

He later said: ‘Let’s hope we don’t end up in bed or there would be trouble’.

There was a gap in messages for two weeks, with the pair instead thought to have communicated via Whatsapp in what female A said were ‘the most incriminating’ – but were not able to be traced.

Mr Goss said: ‘We simply don’t know what was said’.

As the IOPC investigation continued, he messaged her to say he ‘missed chatting’. 

She replied to say ‘we aren’t allowed’ but he told her it would be fine because Whatsapp messages were encrypted.

He started the conversation again to say ‘I haven’t forgotten you’ and added that ‘if I had feelings for you and that’s wrong, then I’m in the wrong job’.

Mr Goss continued: ‘When female A asked why he kissed her, PC Owen gave the answer: “Because I’m so attracted to you and instinct took over. I would do it again, always”.

‘At interview he said it was on the lips it was just a peck. It was more “me saying thank you for cooking”. 

‘That was in contrast with what he explanation he gave female A.

‘He was deployed to a missing person report. She was someone who was highly vulnerable at the time and PC Owen knew that.

‘We say that this is a very clear case whether it is an emotional relationship or intended as a sexual relationship, both of them would be on the wrong side of the line.

‘The line is in the rear view mirror. There is a clear crossing of boundaries here. After she said we shouldn’t talk he kept pushing that contact all the way up until March 8.

‘The public does not expect a police officer to be using it as a chance to pick up a sex partner or take advantage of their position.’

Mr William Emlyn-Jones, representing PC Owen, argued there was nothing sexual in the kiss – described as ‘an affectionate and brief peck’ after dinner to which he had been invited to by female A.

He said: ‘We accept that PC Owen has crossed the line. But there are cases where officers do enter into a sexual relationship with extremely vulnerable members of the public – or worse, commit sexual assault.

‘We have a case where we have a personal contact motivated solely and genuinely by concern where that contact was welcomed, without any pressure or pestering and where the worst it gets to is some mild flirtation and a kiss.

‘This did not become a sexual relationship. The [messages] are pretty mild stuff in an age of Tinder and sexting. 

‘There is a word for [what it was] and it’s flirting.

‘He met female A in the course of his professional duties and when he did he carried out these duties to an exemplary standard. 

‘He was kind to her, he was compassionate and he listened.

‘And it happened they had met before, it was obvious there was some kind of connection with her. 

‘She has not complained about anything he has said anything he did, she has not complained about him at all and has in fact disengaged with the process.

‘He did not set out to pick her up and have sex with her, as my learned friend suggested, to put it bluntly.’

Owen was dismissed from the force without notice after the panel found his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct. 

He was told he has the right to appeal this decision by the panel.

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