A protection officer sexually harassed a young colleague after entering her hotel room, stripping her socks and rubbing her thigh during a ‘wellness weekend’ at work.
Detective Constable Simon Spellman, 36, was sacked from his job after he entered the woman’s bedroom to borrow toothpaste as part of a rush to ‘test the waters’ in hopes of engage in a sexual relationship in September 2021.
The protective detective constable made himself comfortable on his bed, taking off his socks and shoes after asking reception staff for his room number and showing up unannounced, we heard.
Her ‘pathetic’ sexual harassment happened after a night out during a ‘welfare weekend’ with Durham Police staff at Harrogate Police Processing Centre, misconduct proceedings before the Old Houghton Magistrates Court was heard.
The victim, known as Ms F, froze and broke down in tears after locking herself in the bathroom when meeting the detective – whom she had only met hours earlier .
The 36-year-old father, who has spoken of cheating on his partner, lay on Ms F’s bed after brushing his teeth and fondling her upper thigh and back.
He admitted to using his index finger to circle small circles on her thigh, before touching her back, between her shoulder blades and asking the junior colleague how she was.
The victim, who was more than ten years younger than the 6ft 5in officer, was upset and ‘horrified’ by his actions and escaped to the bathroom, making a panicked phone call to his partner.
Detective Protection Constable Simon Spellman, 36 (pictured), found out the woman’s room number, showed up without warning and took off his shoes and socks before brushing his teeth He then touched her thigh and back during the ‘pathetic’ sexual harassment, which happened during a ‘welfare weekend’ with Durham Constabulary staff at the Durham Police Treatment Center Harrogate.
The panel found the Darlington-born father (pictured) went to Ms F’s bedroom after he had already decided she was interested in him – despite speaking repeatedly about her partner and her intention to buy a house with him. He has now been sacked from his caretaking role
She burst into tears after the man touched her saying “I don’t know what to do”.
In a statement, his partner told the misconduct hearing: ‘He’s generally a calm, laid-back person. She didn’t know how to handle the situation and she was panicking.
He added: “She should have felt safe, especially leaving with the police…I thought that boy was totally out of order to go to her room and was obviously expecting something from her.”
The officer, who worked in backup, has now been summarily fired and added to the banned list over sexual harassment.
Defending himself, the DC alum said, “I didn’t think she didn’t want me there at the time.” I thought she was quite comfortable with my presence and we continued to chat and get along.
“I thought we got along pretty friendly, she had no objection to me being here, that’s why I started [touching her]. It was the only reason.
The panel found the Darlington-born father had come to Ms F’s bedroom after he had already decided she was interested in him – despite speaking repeatedly about her partner and her intention to buy a house with him.
Mr Spellman finally left after bed for about 30 minutes when the victim told him he had to go because she had received bad news.
When DC Spellman left the room, he posted three Facebook messages asking, “Hey hope you’re ok x. Looks like something bad happened so don’t worry about kicking me out lol.
He then sent a single question mark when the woman did not respond.
In an interview aired at the misconduct hearing, the victim said: ‘I felt so relieved he was gone. I still had to spend the whole weekend with him and I didn’t know what his intentions were in being in my room.
“I really think he was trying with me…I had talked about my boyfriend and how we were going to start a family and buy a house. I was just really scared, I didn’t know what he was going to do. I didn’t even know him.
After Ms F told her colleagues what happened the next morning, DC Spellman again went to her room to apologize for making her feel uncomfortable after being confronted by another sergeant.
Mr Spellman admitted breaching professional standards of authority, respect and courtesy, amounted to dishonorable conduct, but denied it amounted to serious misconduct.
Simon Mallet, chairman of the panel, said: ‘The panel accepts that the officer removed her socks and Ms F changed her outfit before the officer entered her room and Ms F moved her leg rather that the officer stopped touching her. .
“The removal of his socks suggests that the officer intended to extend his stay in his room. However, the panel admits the officer was unsure if he felt the touch [to her thigh].’
Mr Mallet added: ‘The officer’s main argument is that he did not go to Mrs F’s room with the intention of having any relationship with her, but only when she sitting on the bed with him. Our overall finding is that the officer went to Ms. F’s room hoping to have a sexual relationship with her.
“He had already decided that Ms F was interested in him – she had complimented him on looking younger and immediately accepted him on Facebook. None of these questions were reasonable signals that Ms. F was interested in him.
“The officer mistakenly and sincerely thought they had done it. The background was that he had unjustifiably misinterpreted the situation, perhaps influenced to some degree by the alcohol he had consumed.
“The panel considers that he showed genuine remorse for his actions and learned from it.”
They also said that as a protection officer he “should have had a better understanding of the inappropriate conduct than other officers given his role” and that he could have reasonably foreseen the harm that had occurred. product, saying “it should have been obvious to him”.
Oliver Williamson, on behalf of the Competent Authority, said: “This is serious and has caused harm to Ms F and would cause serious harm to the general public and to the reputation of the force and her colleagues.”
During his testimony on Tuesday, DC Spellman admitted that public trust would be “damaged,” especially since his role is to protect.
Mr Mansell proposed that a final written warning be given, rather than a dismissal, to mark the seriousness of the matter without destroying the father’s “entire 14-year unblemished career over a single stupid mistake”.
However, the committee concluded that public confidence in the force could not be maintained if any action other than dismissal was taken.
Mr Mallet added: “Sexual harassment is always a very serious matter.
“The public and the force would not expect an officer who committed such an act, even in these circumstances and with his personal attenuation, to remain a serving officer. The committee is of the view that public confidence in policing cannot be maintained by a final written warning in all the circumstances of this case.
“The only proper outcome in this case is summary dismissal.”
A panel has now adjourned to decide whether DC Spellman’s actions constituted gross misconduct.