An Avon and Somerset police officer has been sacked after photographing a partially clothed dead woman and sending the image to a colleague.
Radstock-based PC Daniel Wallwork was sent to Lewin House in the town in April 2020 after reports of a sudden death.
Shortly after arriving he took a photograph of the deceased, 42-year-old Sharon Louise Stone, a woman he knew to be vulnerable, after finding her lying face down on her bed.
He then sent it to PC Steve Carey on WhatsApp with a message saying “look who’s turned up dead” before continuing his investigation.
PC Wallwork told his misconduct hearing he felt “instant regret” for choosing the “wrong method of communication” and an immediate feeling he had invaded Miss Stone’s privacy, but he made no apology until days later.
Representing Avon and Somerset Police, barrister Mark Ley-Morgan said: “There is incontrovertible evidence the officer has grossly misconducted himself. It’s in the public interest the officer should cease to be a member of the police service without delay.
“He has abused his position as a police officer. His behaviour undoubtedly brings discredit on the police service.”
PC Wallwork, a 40-year-old father of two, said he had previously met Miss Stone in Midsomer Norton while she was intoxicated.
He told the virtual hearing on January 12: “I was trying to communicate a sad coincidence to a colleague. I didn’t need to take a photograph and I accept that. I chose the wrong method of communication.
PC Wallwork served in the Army and as a prison officer before joining the police in 2014.
Representing him, Mark Loker from the Police Federation said: “He has completed 24 years of public service. This isn’t an officer who doesn’t take his duties and responsibilities seriously.
“He accepts he hasn’t acted with integrity and that his behaviour fell below the standard expected. He doesn’t believe he has done something that would undermine public confidence in the police.”
Avon and Somerset Police chief constable Sarah Crew, chairing her first misconduct hearing since taking over the role, did not believe PC Wallwork had instantly regretted his actions and ruled that he should be dismissed without notice.