DC Damien Cotgreave Who Sent Picture of His Penis Whilst Sitting In Court Court Would have have Been Sacked

The breaches of the Standards of Professional Behaviour alleged were as follows:

1) That on 13th December 2019 while you were on duty you exchanged “WhatsApp” messages with a member of the public using your personal mobile telephone in relation to her use of illegal substances. Your message response to her admission of Cannabis use was “Haha honestly wouldn’t bother me, the office stinks of cannabis most of the time anyway. And if it’s purely for personal use and on medicinal grounds the amount of paperwork involved for seizing it is just not worthwhile 😂😂😂”. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Discreditable Conduct and Duties and Responsibilities.

2) That on 17th December 2019 you sent an image of an exhibit in an ongoing criminal investigation to an unauthorised recipient, using your personal mobile telephone. The image is described as “A bag of Cannabis that has been seized”. If proved this would be a breach of the Standard of Professional Behaviour namely Confidentiality.

3) That on 24th February 2020 while you were on duty, you sent an image from your personal mobile telephone to a female. The image is described as “Image shot of his crotch of his jeans and his hand gripping his penis through them. Sat on a blue chair and visible grey carpet in the background”. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

4) That on 24th February 2020 while you were on duty, you attended the home address of a female and stayed at the address for in excess of 1 hour, for a non-policing purpose. If proved this would be a breach of the Standard of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities.

5) That on 24th February 2020 while you were on duty you attended the home address of the same female and gave her a massage under her clothes and then carried out an errand for her. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, Respect and Courtesy.

6) That on 16th December 2019 while on duty at Crown court, during a sexualised conversation on “WhatsApp” with a female, you sent an image of your penis using your own personal mobile telephone. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

7) That on 17th December 2019 while on duty you engaged in sexualised conversation with a female, who was aware that you are a serving Police Officer, using your own personal mobile telephone. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

8) That on 19th December 2019 while on duty at Crown court, you sent an image of your penis using your own personal mobile telephone to a female. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

9) That on 24th February 2020 while you were on duty, you sent an image from your personal mobile telephone to a female. The image is described as “Image shot of his crotch of his jeans and his hand gripping his penis through them. Sat on a blue chair and visible grey carpet in the background” If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Conduct and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

10) That on 24th February 2020 while you were on duty, you sent a video from your personal mobile telephone to a female. The image is described as “This is a video with the duration of 11 seconds, it depicts a male masturbating in a toilet cubicle”. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

11) That on 11th January 2020 while you were on duty, you were in a conversation with a female who was suffering from poor mental health. She told you that she had taken pills; you asked “What have you taken” and she responded “Nothing horrendous, saving the main event for later”. There is no evidence to show that you took any steps to inform anybody of this information that a vulnerable female had taken unknown tablets and was making threats to harm herself. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities and Discreditable Conduct.

12) That on 12th February 2020 while you were off duty, you sent an image using your own mobile telephone, of an erect penis to a female who knew that you were a serving Police Officer and who you knew was a vulnerable adult. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Discreditable Conduct.

13) That on 24th February 2020 while you were on duty, you sent an image from your personal mobile telephone to a female who is recorded in your contacts. The image is described as “Image shot of his crotch of his jeans and his hand gripping his penis through them. Sat on a blue chair and visible grey carpet in the background” If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Discreditable Conduct and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

14) That over a four day period between 10th December 2019 and 13th December 2019 while you were on duty you engaged in a “WhatsApp” conversation with a female who is recorded in your contacts. During this time period 245 messages were exchanged, with 86 being sent by yourself. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities.

15) That over a fourteen day period between 10th December 2019 and 23th December 2019 while you were on duty you engaged in a “WhatsApp” conversation with a female who is recorded in your contacts. During this time period 389 messages were exchanged, with 178 being sent by yourself. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities.

16) That on 24th February 2020 while on duty you engaged in a sexualised conversation using the “whisper” platform with a female, who is recorded in your contacts, using your own personal mobile telephone. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

17) That on 21st February 2020 while on duty you engaged in a sexualised conversation using the “whisper” platform with a female, who is recorded in your contacts, using your own personal mobile telephone. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

18) That between 17th and 21st February 2020 while on duty you engaged in a sexualised conversation using the “whisper” platform with a female, who is recorded in your contacts, using your own personal mobile telephone. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

19) That on 24th February 2020 while on duty you engaged in a sexualised conversation using the “whisper” platform with a female, who is recorded in your contacts, using your own personal mobile telephone. If proved this would be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities, Discreditable Conduct, and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.

20) That on 24th February 2020 while you were on duty you engaged in a “Whisper” conversation with a female who is recorded in your contacts. During this time period 50 messages were exchanged, with 29 being sent by yourself. If proved this would be a breach of the Standard of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities.

21) That between 10th February 2020 and 24th February 2020 while you were on duty you engaged in ‘Whisper’ conversation with a female who is recorded in your contacts. During this time period 144 messages were exchanged, with 80 being sent by yourself. If proved this would be a breach of the Standard of Professional Behaviour namely Duties and Responsibilities.

 

Findings and Reasons of the Misconduct Panel:

The Panel has considered both the evidence relied upon in the bundle by the Appropriate Authority and also the written admissions and comments made by the Officer in his response to the allegations. No live evidence was called and the Officer did not attend.

The following was found in relation to each allegation:

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted that he sent the messages and he was working in the field of drugs as a specialist officer at the time, and should have behaved more responsibly or disassociated himself from this relationship and the text conversation. Members of the public would not expect him to react in this way or be so flippant about the likely police response to drug-taking, and therefore the Panel find that he was bringing the service into disrepute.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities and discreditable conduct

Breach proven: the Officer sent both the photograph of the exhibit and also provided further information about the policing operation surrounding it and what had been seized; although no personal or sensitive data was disclosed, this was not sent to an authorised recipient and was not in the public domain; the officer had no lawful policing purpose to disclose this information or image.
Breach of confidentiality.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of the image. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

And 5) The Panel considers that this should be a single allegation relating to a visit and period of time spent at an address which was not part of the Officer’s policing duties on that occasion, and whilst there, he engaged in inappropriate behaviour whilst on duty. The Panel do not find the allegation of a ‘massage’ specifically to be proven from the text messages alone and no formal complaint was made of his conduct, but the Officer was engaging in inappropriate conduct whilst on duty and also carried out an errand which he had not been tasked with as part of his duties. (Allegation 5 as it currently stands and is currently drafted is not proved.)
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy, and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of the image. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the messaging exchange of a sexualised nature. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of the image. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of the image. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of the video. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches NOT proven: without additional evidence to support the mental health status of the person in question, or to support/dispute the background information provided by the Officer in his response, the Panel is not persuaded on the balance of probabilities that the Officer had any professional obligation to report the messages sent on 11 January 2020, and would defer to the Officer’s judgment and state of knowledge at that specific time. It is not clear from the messages provided to the Panel what the pre-existing or subsequent involvement of mental health services was in relation to this individual.
Breaches NOT proven: the message/image was sent whilst off duty, and there is no evidence that the Officer came into contact with this person whilst in the course of his work or was abusing his position in contacting her at this time.
Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of the image. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breach proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of messages whilst on duty.
Breach of duties and responsibilities.

Breach proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of messages whilst on duty.
Breach of duties and responsibilities.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the messaging exchange of a sexualised nature. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the messaging exchange of a sexualised nature. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the messaging exchange of a sexualised nature. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breaches proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the messaging exchange of a sexualised nature. The conduct is clearly sexual and inappropriate, and whilst on duty. Members of the public would not expect this kind of conduct whilst on duty and it undermines the profession.
Breaches of duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Breach proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of messages whilst on duty.
Breach of duties and responsibilities.

Breach proven: the Officer accepted his conduct and the sending of messages whilst on duty.
Breach of duties and responsibilities.

Conclusions:

The Panel have concluded that the cumulative effect of the breaches found above amounts to gross misconduct, because the conduct taken as a whole is so serious (in terms of culpability, pattern of behaviour, number of individuals, volume of messaging and period of time over which the conduct takes place) that dismissal would be justified. The Officer has engaged in an extensive amount of inappropriate conduct, whilst on duty, which has included the sending of sexualised messages and images to members of the public, whom he had not met apart from one. In addition, he spent time whilst on duty attending an address of that individual without lawful or professional reason and performed an errand for her, which was not part of his policing duties. Any misconduct involving sexual impropriety undermines public trust in the profession and is therefore classed as particularly serious. The Panel have noted that the exchanges on social media platforms were between consenting adults and no independent complaints were made by any of these individuals, nor is there any evidence that the Officer had initially come into contact with the females in the course of his work or was abusing his position as a police officer for sexual gain. However, the pattern of behaviour of this Officer whilst on duty showed a blatant disregard for his role as a professional serving the public, and the public he was serving had a right to expect the highest standards of attention to duty. Whilst none of the females involved came to any harm as a result of his behaviour, the Panel have taken account of the potential for reputational harm to the profession.

Disciplinary Action imposed:

The Panel have concluded that the only disciplinary action suitable for this level and nature of conduct is one of dismissal and therefore, former DC Cotgreave would have been dismissed if he were still a serving police officer. The Panel reiterates comments made above in relation to the seriousness and repetition of the conduct found proven, and the potential for reputational harm to the policing profession if the circumstances were known to the public. The Panel accepts that former DC Cotgreave had difficulties of a personal nature which he accepted had impacted upon his work as a police officer, and we note from the reference of his supervising officer that he had some period of extended sickness which required additional support. However, this personal mitigation does not justify a lesser sanction in this case. The Panel were not provided with any independent or medical evidence to support the Officer’s inability to cope with his duties or explain the misconduct (having asked for the same, the Panel was informed that none was available and the Officer did not seek to rely upon any), and it would appear from evidence provided by the Appropriate Authority that the Officer did not seek any form of professional medical support during the time of the misconduct. The Panel have noted and give credit to the Officer’s response to the allegations which includes admissions and some acceptance of responsibility for his actions.

Sussex Police
  • Stats since 1st January 2022
  • 15 Misconduct Hearings
    73% held in public

Share this story

An investigative news agency that uncovers agenda-setting stories from across the UK