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Wiltshire Police want Paul Wollard to be sacked
11:33am Wednesday 10th October 2012 in News
A SWINDON policeman who sent sordid emails to an angling chum who turned out to be a child molester is fighting to save his career at the High Court.
As well as 'joking' about rape with sex beast Robert Meade, Paul Woollard repeatedly used the police intelligence system to run checks on his friend and 'leant him a shoulder to cry on' while he was on bail for sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl, a top judge was told.
Wiltshire Chief Constable, Patrick Geenty, is adamant that Mr Woollard must be sacked and is challenging as 'bizarre' and 'irrational' a decision of the Police Appeals Tribunal to order his reinstatement on the force and issue him with a final warning.
John Beggs QC, for Mr Geenty, told the court Mr Woollard had used his police email address to send Meade a series of explicitly-worded messages including one which read: "Just waitin for the women to come and open up. I might rape her as theres noone else here (sic)".
Meade, who Mr Woollard knew through a shared interest in cricket and angling, admitted sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl at Swindon Crown Court in October 2009 and was jailed for a year.
Mr Beggs, in his written submissions to the court, conceded there was no evidence Mr Woollard knew about Meade's crime when he sent the 'rape joke' email, but added that he had 'continued to associate' with his friend even after he was charged and on bail.
He had also committed flagrant breaches of the Data Protection Act by repeatedly accessing the 'Niche' police intelligence computer to look up details about Meade, the QC told the court.
Mr Geenty's predecessor as Chief Constable, Brian Moore, had ordered Mr Woollard's dismissal from the force but, in May last year, he was overruled by the PAT which directed he be reinstated and given a final warning.
Challenging that ruling, Mr Beggs argued: "No reasonable tribunal could have imposed a sanction other than dismissal for an officer found gulity of such a cumulative litany of allegations which undermined public confidence in the reputation of the police service."
Describing parts of the PAT's reasoning as 'bizarre', the QC asked: "How would a Wiltshire victim of rape react to learning that a sexual offences trained officer 'joked' about raping a woman himself? Would that encourage her to come forward to Wiltshire Police?
"How would a man on the Devizes omnibus view the fact that one of his local officers, on duty, is sending foul emails to an inappropriate associate, joking about home-made and barely legal pornography and masturbation.
"How would a local citizen respond to the knowledge that one of his local officers is lending a shoulder to cry on to a child sex offender on bail?
"What would the 14-year-old victim of Robert Meade, or her parents, or her friends, or other victims of sexual assault think of the police if they discovered that Mr Woollard accessed intelligence about Meade's offence not for the proper policing purpose of detecting crime, but to check up on his friend?"
Hugh Davies, for Mr Woollard, conceded that his misconduct had been serious and that the court would be 'wholly unimpressed' by his behaviour. However, he had expressed remorse and the case did not concern his 'honesty and integrity'.
Urging Mr Justice Wyn Williams to find that 'a lesser outcome than dismissal' was acceptable, the barrister said the Chief Constable 'does not have a monopoly of wisdom' on what is and is not behaviour justifying the termination of a police officer's career.
Emphasising that PC Woollard had not accessed police intelligence 'at the direction of Meade', the barrister argued that the overall effect of the allegations he faced was "misleading and prejudicial" and that dismissal should not be "the default sanction" in such cases.
The language used by the PAT in condemning PC Woollard "could hardly be stronger" and it had clearly not underestimated the seriousness of his misconduct, he added.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams has now reserved his judgment on the Chief Constable's appeal until a later date.