A drunk off-duty police officer who was found “staggering” in the street and wearing only her dressing gown after she crashed her car into a dyke has been dismissed.
PC Rebecca Stevenson, 33, was over twice the legal drink drive limit when she lost control of her vehicle on the way to a caravan site on the Lincolnshire coast.
The noise of the 4.30am collision woke a woman in a nearby house who found debris on her drive and recognised Stevenson as a local police officer.
A misconduct hearing was told PC Stevenson became “passively obstructive” when a colleague arrived at the scene and requested a roadside breath test – claiming he would never prove that she was the driver.
The hearing at Lincolnshire Police headquarters was told PC Stevenson, who was based in the market town of Louth, had found herself in “highly unusual personal circumstances” which led up to the incident.
PC Stevenson admitted her behaviour on July 2 this year amounted to gross misconduct but told the hearing it would not happen again.
But in dismissing her from the force Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly said: “I cannot find what you did is consistent with your role as a warranted officer.”
The Chief Constable added: “That you were unfit to drive was clearly demonstrated by the serious accident you were involved in.
“Both yourself and members of the public were at serious risk of suffering life changing harm or death.”
The Chief Constable said he had found the decision to dismiss PC Stevenson “exceptionally difficult” and admitted he was “concerned and troubled” by the way Lincolnshire Police had responded to her return to work.
PC Stevenson had pleaded guilty to driving over the prescribed limit in Main Road, Saltfleetby, when she appeared before Nottingham Magistrates on July 18.
She was banned from driving for 17 months and given a £500 fine.
Matthew Greene, representing Lincolnshire Police at the misconduct hearing, said: “The incident that led to the conviction was reported by a member of the public on July 2, at approximately 4.30am.
“A member of the public was woken by a noise, she went outside and saw a female staggering away from her driveway.
“She saw some debris from a tree on the driveway, and saw a vehicle had collided front first into a dyke near her house, some 15 feet away.”
Mr Greene said the woman recognised Stevenson as a local police officer and described her as “wearing only a dressing gown and barefoot.”
A police sergeant who arrived at the scene requested a roadside breath test and described PC Stevenson as being “passively obstructive.”
“He stated that she stated he would never prove that she was the driver,” Mr Greene told the hearing.
“At 4.48am she blew 72 in breath at the roadside, the legal limit being 35.”
Stevenson was arrested and taken to a police station where at 6.46am she returned intoximeter results of 73 and 81.
Mr Greene added: “She accepted she was the driver and was on her way to a caravan site when the incident occurred.”
Photos of the crash showed just how serious the incident could have been, Mr Greene said.
“The action and subsequent conviction of PC Stevenson seriously damaged public trust in the police service.
“You have a police officer now with a criminal conviction, in circumstances that put the public at great risk.
“PC Stevenson made the decision to drive the vehicle on July 2, it was her decision.”
PC Stevenson had appeared before magistrates in Nottingham last month after her case was transferred out of Lincolnshire for impartiality reasons.
Stevenson was found with 73 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.
Following the incident Stevenson was immediately suspended from duty and faced a disciplinary investigation.
Mr Greene added: “The appropriate authority (Lincolnshire Police) don’t dispute PC Stevenson was well thought of by some of her colleagues, or that she was stressed and depressed at the time of the incident on July 2.”
The hearing was told PC Stevenson had provided a “very high” service to the people of Lincolnshire for almost 12 years and was a “loyal and dependable officer” with a “superb moral character.”
Steven Crossley, representing PC Stevenson, said she had found herself in “highly unusual personal circumstances” which meant public confidence would not be eroded if she kept her job.
The press and public were excluded from the hearing while the officer’s personal and medical mitigation was given to the hearing.
Addressing the hearing herself PC Stevenson admitted she was “genuinely appalled” by her behaviour but promised it was an “isolated incident” which would never happen again.
She said: “I love my job, up until this incident I was proud to have no complaints. I regret everything that happened that led up to this.”
Lincolnshire Police allowed Stevenson to leave via a different exit to the main entrance, where media organisations were waiting.