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Police officers sacked for saying at-risk teenager 'should be raped'

The Guardian logo The Guardian 10/11/2017 Haroon Siddique and agency
A female officer’s hat with the Avon and Somerset police badge. Samuel Dexter and Hannah Mayo both admitted to gross misconduct in relation to the incident. © PA A female officer’s hat with the Avon and Somerset police badge. Samuel Dexter and Hannah Mayo both admitted to gross misconduct in relation to the incident.

Two police officers have been dismissed from the Avon and Somerset force after they said they hoped that a vulnerable teenager “got raped”.

PCs Samuel Dexter, 36, and Hannah Mayo, 32, made the comments in a conversation that they did not realise was being recorded on the 14-year-old’s mother’s answering machine.

Both admitted to gross misconduct in relation to the incident, which took place in September. After a misconduct hearing at the force headquarters, in Portishead, near Bristol, on Tuesday, Andy Marsh, the chief constable, sacked them without notice, saying that the public would be “outraged” by their comments.

The officers had driven over to the family’s house after receiving a phone call from the 14-year-old’s mother. It was Dexter’s second time at the house that evening after the boy’s mother had earlier reported him missing.

On that occasion, Dexter had driven round looking for the boy, who had ADHD and was a cannabis user, and eventually returned him home safely.

When he was called back to the house later, accompanied by Mayo, Dexter tried to phone the boy’s mother on the way over but obtained no answer. He then vented his frustration to his fellow officer.

“I have no interest whatsoever,” he said. “He [the boy] seemed to be relishing in the fact that I had been driving around aimlessly looking for him.
“I felt like saying to him, ‘Whatever, you little s**t, I don’t give a f**k. I hope you get raped.’”

Mayo responded: “Yes, and b**t raped.”

The officers were heard laughing on the two-minute recording, which ended as they pulled up outside the boy’s house. Unbeknown to the officers, the conversation had been recorded on the mother’s answering machine.

Dexter told the hearing he heard a beep in his ear as he pulled up and told his colleague he thought their conversation may have been recorded but neither officer mentioned this when they entered the house.

Mark Loker and Peter Land of the Police Federation, representing Dexter and Mayo respectively, said the constables were both exemplary officers and that the comments were highly out of character.

Dexter, who has five children and is a private foster carer for overseas year-abroad students, said: “I still to this day can’t believe it was me who said those things.

“I am absolutely mortified. It’s not who I am. I am deeply sorry for the comments I made – I never intended the upset caused to the family.

“I can only put it down to the stress and frustration of the incident – although that is not a validation, and I should never have expressed them in that way.”

Mayo said: “I have thought about this incident every day since. I’m so disappointed in myself.

“It makes you question yourself – you’re supposed to be in a position of trust, and to do something so stupid that’s had such an impact on the family is a horrible thing.”

Loker described their comments as “dark humour” in the face of stress and “a coping mechanism in very poor taste.”

He added: “There was no intent, no malice. These officers are good cops, but they are good cops who have made a very grave error in judgment.”

However, Marsh gave the verdict that the comments of the officers went “way beyond the boundaries” of dark humour.

Video: Child Protection Helpline Launched (Sky News) 

“These comments were about a vulnerable child who was displaying acute risk factors,” he said.

“The public will be outraged that such comments were made by police officers. My conclusion is that PC Dexter and PC Mayo should be dismissed without notice.”

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