‘Beyond incompetent’ police officers sabotaged child abuse probes, court told

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, are accused of forging documents and concealing evidence over a three-year period.

The Essex Police officers, who were in a relationship, also told their superiors phoney information about investigations, the opening of their trial at the Old Bailey heard on Thursday.

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 behaviour of conduct went “beyond incompetence” and was not because of a “lack of resources” or “insufficient investigative manpower”, the prosecutor said.

Patterson is accused of falsely representing evidence to her supervisor so no further action was taken against a male suspect and of fabricating a witness statement.

She also allegedly created a false Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) document to deceive her supervisor into thinking a decision had been taken not to charge a second male.

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.