Drink-drive officer who crashed car and hid is sacked by Chief Constable

A drink-drive detective who left the scene of an accident and hid has been sacked by the police.

By Iain Lynn
Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 3:45 pm

Detective Constable Matthew Smith, described as an "exemplary officer" by colleagues in Greater Manchester Police (GMP), was twice the drink-drive limit when he drove after a drinking session with friends.

His car hit a "glancing" blow to a vehicle driven by a member of the public as it left the motorway in Bury, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of September 8, last year.

He then left the scene and when an off-duty police officer came across the accident he found his colleague hiding.

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DC Smith failed a breath test at the roadside

The details were given at a Special Case Gross Misconduct Hearing, chaired by the Chief Constable of GMP Ian Hopkins and held via video conference, to determine if the officer should keep his job.

DC Smith failed a breath test at the roadside, giving a reading of 78 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, the hearing was told. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.

The officer, a single parent and father-of-two, subsequently admitted drink-driving at Liverpool Magistrates' Court last October and was banned from the roads for 18 months and fined £700.

Gareth Madgwick, a solicitor for GMP, told the hearing, the force would be justified in his dismissal as the officer had been convicted of a criminal offence.

Mr Madgwick said the public expect the "highest standards" from officers and the crash could have been "extremely serious".

DC Smith admitted his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct and a breach of the police's own professional standards rules.

The officer, who had served with GMP for 16 years and was with Salford CID at the time of the incident, apologised for his actions and pleaded to keep his job.

A series of glowing testimonials from fellow officers described DC Smith as a hard-working, conscientious and dedicated "exemplary" officer.

Part of the hearing was not made public while personal and medical details were discussed.

DC Smith told how he had helped catch and jail burglars, robbers and save the life of a suicidal woman.

He said since being a child he had dreamed of becoming a police officer and it was all he knew.

He added: "I love my job. It does mean everything to me. I need this job sir."

Katy Appleton, representing the officer, asked Mr Hopkins to, "take the exceptional course" in these circumstances and issue a final written warning.

But after a brief adjournment the chief constable returned and rejected the lawyer's appeal.

Mr Hopkins told the officer: "I have no doubt you are a talented police officer and passionate about tackling crime and supporting victims.

"I have to weigh that up against the serious nature of the offence and the risk to the public that your actions posed on that night.

"I'm therefore sorry to tell you that my decision is that you should be dismissed without notice."