A POLICE officer who abused his position to exploit a vulnerable drug addict has been jailed.
Mark Goddard (36) will spend half his two year sentence in jail and the rest under supervised licence.
At an earlier hearing, father-of-two Goddard and whose address was given as c/o Lisburn PSNI station, entered guilty pleas to two counts of misconduct in public office by disclosing confidential information from the police computer system and engaging in a sexual relationship with a woman he encountered as part of his duties “knowing that she was vulnerable at that time and that it was wrong for you to engage in such activity”.
Both offences were committed between June 2017 and May 2018.
Judge Patrick Lynch QC recounted on Monday how Goddard, who served for eight years in the PSNI, arrested and questioned the drink and drug addicted “vulnerable” victim in relation to a burglary.
When she texted him late one night while intoxicated, he initially maintained a stance that “he was a married police officer and she was a criminal and that was not allowed” but by the end of the month however, the pair had began a consensual sexual relationship.
Judge Lynch revealed that during the affair, Goddard had sent her close to 10,000 text messages, including 3,205 “when he was on duty” and with many of them “highly sexualised”.
The affair came to light in May 2018 when police were investigating a stabbing incident and spoke to the woman who revealed she had been having an affair with Goddard.
That sparked an investigation which also uncovered that Goddard had accessed the police computer system and disclosed confidential details in breach of the code of conduct.
The information he disclosed were not “matters of intelligence” but rather revealing to her that she was going to be spoken about to with a warning to “clear her phone”.
“He was in a position of authority and exploited a clearly vulnerable young woman,” said the judge.
Earlier, defence counsel Michael McAleer, instructed by McConnell Kelly solicitors, submitted that “we have a man who made not just a silly mistake but an absolutely outrageous mistake of not resisting an advance that was made to him…he will leave the force with his head hung low in shame”.
He said while the disgraced officer has lost “essentially what would have been a job for life,” his wife is standing by him and the family are relocating to England.
Judge Lynch said he accepted that a prison sentence for a police officer will be a “particular hardship” but that his offending was “a gross breach of the trust reposed in the defendant”.