Ex-policewoman wins damages over phone prank injury

A trainee detective who sued Essex police for a prank which went wrong and left her injured has won damages.

Former Pc Rebecca Jenkins sued the force for £500,000 after she hurt her knee when her supervisor hid her phone in a ceiling void.

Miss Jenkins, 33, climbed a desk to retrieve it but fell and hit her left knee against the table at Grays police station in July 2012.

She said that the injury had blighted her career and made the chance of promotion more difficult, but a judge at Central London County Court ruled that her claims were "fanciful".

The court previously heard that the practical joke by Sergeant Alan Blakesley was an attempt to boost morale among colleagues after a tiring weekend of work.

Judge Simon Freeland QC ruled that Miss Jenkins should be awarded £9,000 in general damages, plus costs for care, travel, prescriptions and loss of overtime over 16 months.

Her total award came to £10,825.70, which includes a deduction of one third for what the judge ruled was her "contributory negligence".

She was off work for periods of time in November 2013 and in 2014 but was eventually dismissed because of performance concerns.

The court previously heard that Miss Jenkins suffered stress and mild to moderate depression in the months after the incident but that she exaggerated her claim that she could not return to work.

She was caught on camera shopping and carrying out errands with no sign of "apparent pain or discomfort" in November 2016, Judge Freeland said.

"The claimant could crouch down, walk briskly, get out of a car without bending. I reject her claim that her walk and gait were clumsy," he told the court.

He added that the footage undermined Miss Jenkins's claim "significantly".

She carried out restricted duties but temporarily left her job in 2014 despite findings that she could have pursued roles within the force apart from those on the frontline.

Judge Freeland said there was "no evidence to say that her career prospects have been ... blighted and her judgment is speculative and fanciful in these regards."

He added: "In the end I am unable to find she is a dishonest witness but her account has been exaggerated."

Judge Freeland accepted that the joke was a "conscious attempt to boost morale".

But he added: "In my judgment, this prank crossed the line from the acceptable tomfoolery, joke and horseplay within the workplace to the unacceptable and dangerous."

He said of Miss Jenkins's actions at the time: "It was a foolish act to climb on the desk and she should have asked for help and or the phone to be retrieved."

He concluded that Miss Jenkins recovered 18 months to two years after the incident, and that claims of stress were related not to her injury but to her situation at home after her partner left.