22 August 2012
Last updated at 06:22 ET
A Cambridgeshire police officer who “hurried” a rape inquiry when he became attracted to a witness in the case has been jailed for four months.
James Goodwill, 27, asked a witness to sign a blank statement for him to fill in later, Luton Crown Court heard.
Once the woman left, he “pursued” the other female witness, texted her, and retrieved her number from the police computer after his wife deleted it.
He admitted misconduct in public office and unauthorised access to a computer.
Goodwill, of Rivehill Avenue, Welton, Lincolnshire, who has since resigned from the force, had been tasked with investigating an allegation of rape in July last year.
After speaking to the complainant, the Peterborough-based officer arranged to talk to a care company support worker as a witness.
Beverley Cripps, prosecuting, said: “He made notes at this meeting, but then asked the witness to sign blank statement sheets and said he would fill them in later.
“She trusted him and assumed it was okay to do that.”
The court heard this happened at the home of the care company director, who had also been interviewed, and that Goodwill did not leave until midnight.
Miss Cripps said he visited the director later and texted her and the woman “felt a little flattered”.
Contact stopped suddenly, but she received a text months later, when Goodwill explained his wife had deleted her number and he had had to find it on the police computer.
He claimed he could see a light on in her bedroom window – which prompted the woman to speak to a friend who was married to another Cambridgeshire officer.
‘Misguided and incompetent’
The support worker said the witness statements contained background information she had not given him and could have been detrimental to the complainant had the case gone to court, Miss Cripps said.
John McNally, defending said: “He denies he fabricated anything in the statement.
“But his error was not going back to the witness to have it checked. What he did was misguided and incompetent rather than malevolent.”
Sentencing Goodwill on Tuesday, Judge David Farrell QC told him: “It does not take a great deal of thought to appreciate the potential to cause serious damage to proceedings if that statement had been used.
“I believe it was done in a hurried fashion in order to pursue your attraction for the other witness.”
Speaking after the case, Cambridgeshire Police said the rape allegation did not lead to a prosecution, but this was not as a result of Goodwill’s misconduct.