Evening Telegraph

Police officer dismissed for squeezing woman’s breast on day trip out

A police officer has been dismissed for squeezing a woman’s breast while he was on a day trip out with his colleagues during which he drank 16 pints of beer.

Pc Ralph Bainbridge, 41, had claimed at a disciplinary hearing he was trying to hug the woman from behind when he accidentally touched her breast but his account was not believed by the panel.

It found him guilty of gross misconduct on the third day of a disciplinary hearing in Hartlepool where he worked for Cleveland Police.

The panel chair Susan Monaghan said dismissing him was the only appropriate outcome given his lack of remorse immediately after the incident which happened on a pub crawl in York last October.

During the hearing, Pc Bainbridge agreed with Cleveland Police’s representative Dijen Basu QC that he was “three-quarters of the way to absolutely wasted” when it happened.

The panel was told that the woman, who cannot be identified, said after he groped her: “Get off, you are lucky I haven’t punched you in the f***ing throat.”

Finding he was guilty of gross misconduct, the panel chair said: “The deliberate touching of (the woman) was a serious falling short of standards the public expects of a police officer.

“It amounts to gross misconduct.”

The woman gave evidence to the hearing to say she was groped and that it was done deliberately.

When he was challenged on the night about what happened, the panel found that Pc Bainbridge was “defensive rather than contrite”.

He told the hearing at the Grand Hotel, Hartlepool, he had felt embarrassed.

Pc Bainbridge was an acting sergeant at the time and has been an officer for more than 10 years.

He left the hearing before the decision was made to dismiss him.

Ailsa Williamson, for Pc Bainbridge, asked the panel to give him a final written warning and put forward references from colleagues, one of which said he was an honest and capable officer.

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Warren Shepheard, from the directorate of standards and ethics, said: “We do not underestimate the bravery of the victim.

“The misconduct process has found that the officer’s actions amounted to gross misconduct and he has been dismissed.

“The public rightly expect the highest standards of officers whether on or off duty and the behaviour shown by Pc Ralph Bainbridge will not be tolerated.”