A disgraced Warwickshire police officer has left his career in ruins after his obsession with a colleague with whom he had had a relationship took over his life.
Pc David Hilton, who was based at Rugby Police Staion, bombarded his female colleague with some 1700 e-mails, sent flowers to her at work and even used the Police National Computer to trace her new address.
After first taking the matter up with senior officers on an internal basis, the woman made a formal complaint.
And at Warwick Crown Court, after pleading guilty to harassment, Hilton, who has been dismissed from the force, was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months.
Hilton, 50, of Lockington Close, Chellaston, Derby, was also given a community order with 12 months supervisions for four offences of misusing the Police National Computer (PNC) to obtain personal information, which he had also admitted.
The officer, who had been based in Rugby, was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and to pay £450 costs and an £80 surcharge.
And Judge Alan Parker imposed a restraining order banning him from seeking to contact his former colleague except through solicitors ‘without limit of time.’
Prosecutor Patrick Sullivan said that at the time Hilton was a serving Warwickshire Police officer, and the woman was a communications officer who worked as a controller for the force, and they had an off-and-on relationship.
That was over by the time Hilton’s offences began in June 2010 when he accessed the PNC to obtain the keeper’s details of a vehicle owned by a man who the woman was then involved with; and he did the same again in November that year.
His harassment of the woman began in January 2012 and continued until May last year, and during that period he accessed the PNC to get the keeper’s details of her car to find out her address after she had moved home.
Unable to accept the relationship was ‘well and truly over,’ although he did not know where she lived, he knew only too well where she worked.
He sent her flowers and bombarded her with something like 1700 e-mails entreating her to renew the relationship.
“Such was her despair that she reported it to an inspector in the police; and he received four warning internally to stop, and was told of the consequences if he carried on.”
That was in June 2012, when Insp Emma Bastone warning him there would be a criminal investigation if he did not stop.
But despite that, he continued to contact the woman, and to use the PNC to trace her address before sending her a text which read ‘I spy,’ said Mr Sullivan.
When Hilton was arrested, he accepted what he had done, saying his motive was to get back with the woman.
Elizabeth Power, defending, said: “He has lost literally everything by his stupidity.
“It must have been a frightening thing for her. There were no threats, but the sheer volume of them must have been driving this poor woman to despair.”
Commenting on sentencing guidelines, Judge Parker said: “There has to be an indication that he simply cannot conduct himself towards another person in that way. I do regard this harassment as very serious indeed.”
Sentencing Hilton, Judge Parker told him: “I’m not going to lecture you because you are an intelligent man and you have known all along that what you were doing was wrong.
“You had become utterly obsessed with her. You became a predator, and in your obsession you bombarded her with communications. Although none of them were threatening in their words, she became very frightened.
“Bearing in mind that you were a man in your late 40s with an impeccable character who had served the public, you threw it all away on an obsession you could not control.
“You were undoubtedly a victim of your own obsession with this lady, and gave not a thought at all of how your obsession affected her.
“She thought you did not know where she lived, and she became profoundly distressed when she discovered you had been misusing your position as a police officer to find the address of a man she had been having a relationship with and had then sought to find the address where she lived.
“Your obsession with her completely took over your life, and it certainly damaged her life for a period of time.
“The offences involving the misuse of the computer represent an extremely grave breach of trust.
“The general public fully understand why the PNC contains so much information about all of us; and we all expect that officers of the police force never abuse the information provided within the computer.
“What you did was completely subvert and abuse the trust placed in you for your personal purpose.
“You have lost your career, to which you had given dedicated service. That itself must be a warning to other police officers who consider misusing the computer.”