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"I'm totally sorry": West Midlands Police PC's misconduct admission after foul-mouthed abusive voicemail left on victim's phone

Birmingham | News | Published:

Serving West Midlands Police officers who left a foul-mouthed and abusive voicemail on the phone of an alleged crime victim have accepted their actions amounted to misconduct, a disciplinary panel has heard.

Experienced constables Christopher Guest and Cavan O'Connell have been appearing before a West Midlands Police misconduct panel to answer allegations stemming from an incident in January last year.

Pc Guest, a response officer with 10 years in the force, inadvertently left a foul-mouthed and ranting voicemail on Alex Faragher's mobile referring to her as a "f****** b****", a "f****** s***", and a "b****".

The message captured a private conversation he was having with his colleague Pc O'Connell while the pair were sat in a police car.

Pc Guest said his remarks were borne of 'frustration'.

They had arranged to meet Ms Faragher to take a statement over an incident of alleged domestic violence she reported earlier that evening, but she was not at home when they arrived.

Both men are alleged to have breached the force's professional standards - Pc Guest for making the phone comments, and Pc O'Connell for failure to pull him up for doing so.

Lawyers for both men said that while it was accepted they had been in breach of their duties, it only amounted to misconduct - a lower level of possible professional sanction.

The three-member panel, meeting in Birmingham, has the powers to dismiss the officers with immediate effect if their actions are found to cross the higher threshold of gross misconduct.

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Alison Hewitt, counsel for the force's professional standard's department - which brought the misconduct case, said: "The background is that both officers attended a 999 call reporting a domestic violence incident, attending at an address just after 4.30pm.

"The complainant, the woman, who telephoned 999 was Alex Faragher. The officers agreed that they would return later to take a statement from her.

"But in a phone call made to her later that evening, in accordance with the allegations, there was an inadvertent recording of them talking about her in disparaging terms."

Ms Hewitt recounted the specific terms used on that voicemail to the panel, describing them as "abusive".

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The officers are also alleged to have breached professional standards, in failing to make sure Ms Faragher had properly read her statement before she signed each page.

She did visit a police station to sign that statement about her allegation, however it was only afterwards she listened to the comments made on her voicemail.

Both officers accept they should have done more to ensure Ms Faragher understood the statement she was signing on the night of January 13, after it later emerged she suffered with dyslexia.

However, as Pc O'Connell's lawyer Brian Dean put it: "It was an honest oversight."

Described by colleagues as "conscientious, diligent, and knowledgeable", Pc Guest made an apology to Ms Faragher - who was present at the hearing.

Pc Guest said: "I am truly sorry for the recording left on your phone and I'm sorry for the way it made you feel."

He added: "I've been a police officer for nearly 12 years. It's totally against my principles.

"I'm proud to be a police officer, and I'm totally sorry."

He then turned to panel chairman, the force's assistant chief constable Marcus Beale, and said: "I appreciate the damage it has done to the West Midlands Police force, and for that I am truly sorry."

Mr Dean, for Pc O'Connell, said the words said were 'not very appealing', adding 'it's rather unsavoury but it was said in private and not meant to have any effect, or intended to have any effect, and it was foolish'.

He added that the circumstances of the conversation were 'in the cut and thrust of a busy shift where not challenging your colleague about everything that is said might happen'.

Pc O'Connell has been an officer for 13 years, and in common with Pc Guest, had received commendations for bravery and service, the panel was told..

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow when the panel will determine whether the allegations are found proven or not.

If the allegations are found to have taken place, the hearing panel will then have to determine what action it takes against the officers.

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