Married police officer, 44, who had sex with vulnerable domestic abuse victim after looking up her details on the force computer is jailed for nine months
- Darren Thorn, 44, illegally accessed police computer networks several times
- Charges centred on ‘inappropriate sexual relationship’ with a vulnerable woman
- He looked up her details on police database after meeting her on duty, court told
- Thorn, of Braunton, South Devon, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment
A married police officer who had sex with a vulnerable domestic abuse victim after looking up her details on the force’s computer has today been jailed for nine months.
Darren Thorn, 44, pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court to corruption, computer misuse and misconduct in a public office.
The charges centred on an ‘inappropriate sexual relationship’ that Thorn, who now lives in Devon, began with a vulnerable woman he met while on duty.
The court heard how, a few months after he first met her as part of his duty, he accessed the police database to find her phone number and made the first unauthorised contact with her.
Shortly afterwards, the two became a couple until 2018, when she suffered a miscarriage and the relationship fell apart.
Thorn, who worked as a response officer in Swindon, was arrested in 2018 when the allegations came to light and suspended from Wiltshire Police.
Darren Thorn (pictured), 44, who worked as a response officer in Swindon, pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court to corruption, computer misuse and misconduct in a public office
The investigation was carried out by the force, supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
A gross misconduct panel sacked him from the police in December last year after considering the evidence.
Prosecuting, Christopher Wing said: ‘This case arises in 2016 when Thorn attended the address of the complainant following a domestic violence incident in which she was involved.
‘As a result, he formed a personal relationship with her, then used information obtained during the incident to send her a text message. He messaged her first. This became a sexual relationship and he visited her on personal visits on eight occasions while on duty.
‘The fact of the matter was he was on duty and he should not have been there on personal matters. That relationship went on until June 2018, because the partner fell pregnant and suffered a miscarriage. She said he wasn’t being supportive and she said the relationship was over.
‘She sought counselling and during this counseling the relationship was revealed and this case came to light. Thorn was arrested on September 24, 2018, and he asked to use the toilet. While he was in the bathroom he tried to hide an iPhone.
‘When it was accessed it was found to have 6,000 texts during the time of the relationship.’
The prosecutor also went into detail about three occasions where he had illegally accessed the police database regarding information – on two occasions making searches regarding his partner’s mother and on one occasion passing on the police information to his partner.
A gross misconduct panel sacked him from the police force in December last year after considering the evidence. Pictured: file photo of Wiltshire Police headquarters
Defending Thorn, Christopher Saad said: ‘Mr Thorn was a married man who lived with his wife and three children. He had a job that was very much a source of pride for him. He had much to lose and he has lost it.
‘He comes before you as a 44-year-old man. It has been over 30 months since he was arrested. He has apologised to his ex-partner and he has apologised to the Wiltshire Constabulary.
‘In relation to the computer offences, in two of the incidents no information was passed on. In my submission, that is to be in the lowest end of offending severity.
‘In regards to the other computer offence, that was passed on to comfort the partner – he told his partner to say her mother had not been raped. Again, usually it is police officers passing on information to criminals to assist offenders, but that is not this case.’
Sentencing, Judge Paul Dugdale said: ‘We can all look back and say ‘that was a catastrophic mistake’, and this was one of those. Darren Thorn is a 44-year-old man, of effectively good character. He has spent his life serving his family and community.
‘This is a tragic case to deal with and it was a sad case. Darren Thorn has expressed clear remorse for what he has done. This was a mistake in his life, which he regrets. One of the great conditions of being human is that we make silly mistakes.
‘There is no doubt the custody threshold has been crossed in this case. It is quite clear the only sentence that can be passed is an immediate custodial sentence.’
Thorn, now of Braunton, South Devon, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. He will have to serve half of this sentence before he is eligible for parole.
The court heard how, a few months after he first met her as part of his duty, Thorn accessed the police database to find her phone number and made the first unauthorised contact with her (file photo of Reading Crown Court)
Wiltshire Deputy Chief Constable, Paul Mills, said: ‘We have been clear throughout this process that Thorn’s actions were not only illegal, but were a significant and sustained breach of the very highest standards that the public and we expect from all our police officers and staff.
‘We welcome today’s sentencing and, alongside Thorn’s earlier dismissal for gross misconduct from Wiltshire Police, I hope this acts as a strong deterrent for those who consider abusing the trust the public place in them.
‘I would like to pay tribute to the female witness involved in this case, who not only had the courage to report this matter to us, but has also fully cooperated with us throughout this lengthy investigation.
‘Every person who has an interaction with a representative of Wiltshire Police should have the confidence that they will be treated with care and professionalism, and it is completely unacceptable when these high standards are not met.’
He added: ‘Thorn’s crimes will have harmed public confidence in policing and undermined the work of the vast majority of our police officers and staff who are committed to providing the very highest levels of service to our communities in Swindon and Wiltshire.
‘Furthermore, if any member of the public has concerns relating to the professionalism of any officer or staff member, we would urge them to contact us in confidence so we can address the concerns raised.’
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