A Merseyside police officer who was sacked for gross misconduct, is due to appear in court in January for sentencing over possession of extreme pornographic material.
Ryan Connolly pleaded guilty to three offences relating to possessing the images at Manchester Crown Court on 8 November and will be sentenced on 10 January.
The offences, which date back to 2017, include possession of an extreme pornographic image which was ‘grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character and portrayed in an explicit and realistic way a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal’.
He was also in possession of an ‘extreme pornographic image which was grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character and portrayed in an explicit and realistic way an act which resulted, or was likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s genitals and/or threatened a person’s life’.
Connolly’s dismissal from Merseyside Police
Connolly was dismissed from the police force following a four-day gross misconduct hearing in November where the panel found he had committed three breaches of professional standards.
Merseyside Police said images taken on Connolly’s personal phone while on duty were found to be in breach of professional standards and included a photo he had taken of himself while staffing the cordon at a murder scene.
The police said that particular photo was only of Connolly and did not include any details of the scene or of the victim.
A police spokesperson said: “Following the advice from the legally qualified chair of the gross misconduct hearing, we are unable to disclose any further details of the images Connolly took on his phone while on duty and, as such, the family of the victim has not been informed.”
Merseyside Police said the panel also found he took photographs of vulnerable people on his personal phone whilst on duty.
Between 2015 and 2018 Merseyside Police said Connolly stored images on his personal phone that were “racist, homophobic and severely offensive and on some occasions had shared those images”.
Merseyside Police also said Connolly maintained contact with a known criminal and did not disclose the relationship to the force.
Merseyside Police reaction
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley said: “I am appalled by Connolly’s actions, they are beyond comprehension and are not in keeping with the high standards and values that we expect here at Merseyside Police.
“Our officers carry out exceptionally brave selfless acts every single day, protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities, yet here we see the despicable acts of a very selfish individual who has no place in our police service.
“An investigation by our anti-corruption unit uncovered the fact that Connolly had been using his own phone to take photographs of vulnerable people whilst on duty and that the phone also contained appalling homophobic, racist and offensive images.
“It also revealed that Connolly was an associate of a known criminal and had not declared this association. His actions are an insult to the uniform and the police service, which consistently strives to protect our communities and provide a professional and inclusive service to the people of Merseyside.
“The behaviour of this officer is deplorable and serves to undermine the public’s confidence and trust in the police.
“We are quite clear, if any officer is found to be behaving in a way that does not meet our high standards we will take swift and robust action.
“Colleagues as well as the public are being proactive in identifying those who have no place in Merseyside Police.”
He said the force had introduced a “number of additional processes within the force to identify those who could bring the force in to disrepute”, including enhanced vetting processes.
He added that they were working with colleagues around the “acceptable and appropriate use of social media”.
‘Local people will be disgusted and appalled by his actions’
Merseyside’s police commissioner, Emily Spurrell, said: “The way Connolly behaved is wholly unacceptable.
“There can be no excuse for what he did, and local people will be disgusted and appalled by his actions.
“It is only right that he will never be able to work as a police officer again and will be sentenced for his crimes in January.
“Police conduct is an issue I am committed to closely monitoring and I raised it with the chief constable at my recent public scrutiny meeting.
“It is clear she is committed to embedding the right culture across Merseyside Police and anyone that falls below those high standards will be challenged and swift and robust action will be taken by the force’s anti-corruption team, as we have seen in Connolly’s case.
“I am reassured that the force has introduced enhanced vetting, as well as a confidential reporting app that enables officer and staff to report any concerns about colleagues anonymously.
“There is no place for any officer or member of staff who behaves inappropriately in our police service. Their actions shake public confidence in the police and undermine the efforts of the overwhelming majority of professional, hard-working employees who are committed to serving and protecting the public of Merseyside.
“I will continue to review the work the chief constable is doing to root out wrongdoing and ensure everyone within the organisation is adhering to the high standards she expects, and the public of Merseyside deserve.”
Earlier this month, two Met Police officers were jailed for taking photos of two murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry and sharing the images on WhatsApp groups.