Met Police detective had sexual relationship with female suspect he was investigating

By Furvah Shah
PA

A Metropolitan Police detective began a sexual relationship with a woman while he was investigating her over an alleged crime.

John McCarthy, then a detective constable, began sleeping with the woman in 2017 while investigating her for harassment.

His actions amounted gross misconduct, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found on Tuesday.

Mr McCarthy’s worked in Enfield and Haringey, north London, at the force’s North Area Command Unit.

The relationship with the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began in January 2017 while he investigated a case in which she was accused of harassing her ex-husband and his mother.

The harassment case against her was subsequently dropped.

Their relationship continued, and the IOPC investigation found Mr McCarthy and the woman had sex while he was on duty on 22 March 2017 attending a trial at Wood Green Crown Court. They also exchanged sexual text messages.

IOPC said Mr McCarthy also obtained a loan of £3,580 from the woman between June and September 2017 and there was evidence to suggest he may have intended to permanently keep the money. He was also sent gifts suspect and did not declare the loan, relationship or presents to bosses.

The woman filed a County Court claim against him for failing to repay her when he later got into debt, leaving her ‘living off noodles’ and at risk of eviction from her home. Mr McCarthy also failed to notify the Met of this.

Their relationship ended in October 2017.

Mr McCarthy resigned from the Met last month, on 5 September, four years after the investigation into his misconduct began in January 2018 after a referral to IOPC from the force.

The IOPC’s two-day hearing concluded on Tuesday and found that if Mr McCarthy had not already resigned, he would have been dismissed by the Met. He has now also been placed on a ‘barred list’ of former officers who cannot work in policing in the future.

The IOPC’s regional director, Sal Naseem, said: “It is clear John McCarthy took predatory steps for his own sexual gratification and personal gain. This kind of behaviour had no place in policing. Mr McCarthy would have been dismissed with immediate effect for abusing the trust and power placed in him as a police officer had he not already resigned, and this is the outcome police officers should expect and receive.

“His behaviour has had a serious and devastating impact on his victim, and a corrosive, lasting impact on the public’s confidence in individual officers and the police service in general.”

The victim said in a statement: "I felt I had to play along in the game by giving him gratification. I felt obliged to play along as there was an imbalance of power between us. I grew to love him but in the beginning he would toy with my feelings. I think it made him feel more powerful. He made me feel insecure and scared.”

She added Mr McCarthy became “integrated” into her life, with her family, friends and neighbours becoming aware of their relationship.

“This affected confidence in the police as I don’t think he had told any of his colleagues,” she said. “He was aware of my vulnerabilities and those of my child, and he was aware of my financial vulnerabilities.”

Superintendent Simon Crick, commander of Mr McCarthy’s former unit at the Met, said: “Engaging in a sexual relationship with someone you are investigating as a suspect goes against the core principle that a police officer should discharge his or her duties with fairness, integrity and impartiality.

He added: “The public deserve to have trust and confidence in the police and the outcome demonstrates how committed the Met is to rooting out wrongdoing within the organisation.”


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