A Sussex police officer who contacted prostitutes and videoed himself masturbating in uniform while on duty in a police station has been sentenced to 15 months in prison.
According to a Sussex Police statement, Luke Smith, 34, had pleaded guilty to three charges, including obtaining personal data from police systems, when he appeared in court on February 26.
Today (Friday, April 15), he re-appeared at Lewes Crown Court where HHJ Charles Kemp told him: “You did not offer a plea of guilty at the first opportunity, but I accept that because of the nature of these allegations, you sought legal advice.
“The consequences that you did plead guilty is that two females did not have to attend court. You are also entitled to a 25 per cent reduction in sentence as a result.
“Nevertheless, you engaged in a relationship with (victim 1) over a four-year period, which involved sending text messages and videos of you masturbating in your capacity as a police officer. it is proved these files were sent.
“You used police systems to obtain details of another female when she had complained to the police about an incident.
“This was not for a lawful, policing purpose. You accepted this in your second interview.
“I have taken into account the references you have provided and these show your professionalism, work ethic and good communication skills. If it were not for these matters, you could have looked forward to a long career in the police service - you have thrown that all away. You have said that you feel ashamed.
“There is a very real tragedy of the consequences of your actions for you and your family.”
Smith was sentenced to 15 months for each of the misconduct in public office charges, to run concurrently, and was fined £1 for the data protection offence.
Deputy Chief Constable Robin Smith said: “Smith has tarnished the name of Sussex Police, has wrongly discredited thousands of hard-working and supremely conscientious colleagues and above all else, has abjectly failed the people of Sussex who put their trust in us.
“As soon as he pleaded guilty to the charges, a fast track process was instigated to hold a special case hearing, chaired by Chief Constable Giles York, on March 31.
“He chose not to appear at that hearing, but the allegations of gross misconduct were found proven and he was immediately dismissed from the force.
“Along with the public, we expect the highest standards of professional behaviour. An internal investigation has taken place and I am reassured Sussex Police responded promptly and fairly, both to identify Luke Smith as the officer concerned when we first heard of his behaviour, and to suspend him so he could not continue to have access to people, as a police officer.
“No employer anywhere can be absolutely certain that the person they interview, vet and employ will not at some point prove a major disappointment to them, but when it does happen we will respond openly and honestly about the action we have taken.
“The police service has a national code of ethics that we expect officers and staff to abide by. Smith has fallen woefully short of those standards.”
Following his pleas of guilt to the offences at a previous hearing, a fast track disciplinary hearing was held at Sussex Police HQ in Lewes on March 31. He did not appear in person, but his representative from the Sussex Police Federation told Chief Constable Giles York that Smith, of Eversley Road, Bexhill, had taken ‘a pragmatic view to the likely outcome and admitted the offences’.
Chief Constable York said: “It is with significant disappointment that I read of your capability and investment of skills we have made in you as an operational officer, often working beyond your day job. You had created an enviable, operational track record for an officer in your position being instrumental in murder, kidnap and stabbing investigations.
“The public must be able to trust police officers to conduct themselves in a creditable manner, whether on or off duty. Police officers must be trusted with access to sensitive information. You failed in both of these tests and that is why I believe you must be dismissed with immediate effect.”
This story has been updated and corrected.
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