Police officer who had relationship with woman he met after she reported a crime wins bid to have jail term cut

A police officer who had a relationship with a woman he met after she reported a crime has had his jail term more than halved on appeal.

Friday, 18th January 2019, 4:15 pm
Updated Friday, 18th January 2019, 4:19 pm
Jonathan Layzell

Jonathan Layzell, of Comet Square, New Silksworth, Sunderland, was locked up for 18 months at Newcastle Crown Court in November last year.

The 43-year-old admitted two counts of misconduct in public office, relating to a sexual relationship with one woman and harassing another.

Layzell was a serving police officer with Northumbria Police, Sir Wyn Williams told London's Appeal Court today.

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Northumbria Police said Layzell was no longer employed by them but said it was still pursuing formal disciplinary proceedings.

In December 2016, a woman reported her mobile phone had been stolen and Layzell was asked to visit her home.

She said his manner was 'flirtatious' and, weeks later - after the investigation had been completed - he contacted her on social media.

He asked her to become his friend on Facebook and they began to communicate frequently, with the conversation soon becoming sexual.

By early 2017 they had begun a sexual relationship, said the appeal judge.

After they began to 'drift apart', she contacted another woman who had had a relationship with Layzell and spoke to her on the phone.

This woman revealed she too had first met Layzell when he visited her following a crime report she made to police.

Both women made complaints to police, and Layzell made 12 calls to the first woman he had a relationship with, berating her for reporting him.

The telephone calls were 'abusive' and he used 'foul language', leaving her 'very upset'.

Layzell had been a police officer since 2007 and had received a number of commendations for his work, the court heard.

A psychiatrist's report said he was a 'vulnerable individual rather than a predator' and suffered from an anxiety disorder.

A probation officer said he was genuinely remorseful and was seeking to address his alcohol problems.

The judge who jailed Layzell said he had 'taken advantage of his position' as a police officer.

Today his barrister, Nadesh Karu, argued that his jail term was far too tough and should have been suspended.

He pointed to Layzell being a 'troubled man' and the contents of the psychiatric report.

"We are satisfied that the judge was entitled to pass an immediate sentence of imprisonment," said Sir Wyn.

"Layzell did abuse his position as a police officer," added the appeal judge, who was sitting with two others.

But 'a total sentence of 18 months was manifestly excessive in all the circumstances', he ruled.

Layzell had not engaged in sexual relationships while on-duty and he had 'very strong personal mitigation which was not properly reflected in the total sentence'.

This included the psychiatric report and reference letters detailing his efforts to beat his alcohol problem.

"We have reached the conclusion that the appropriate overall term in this case would have been a sentence of eight months' imprisonment.

"To that extent the appeal is allowed," the judge concluded.

Superintendent Sav Patsalos, head of Northumbria Police’s Professional Standards Department, said: "When we were made aware of the serious allegations faced by the former officer Jonathan Layzell he was suspended from duty.

"Despite the fact Layzell is no longer employed by the Force, we are still pursuing formal disciplinary proceedings.

"We expect officers and staff to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and if anyone is found to have fallen below these standards we are committed to taking appropriate action.

"We have worked extremely hard to increase the confidence of vulnerable victims to come forward and we are determined to ensure Layzell’s completely unacceptable actions do not undermine these efforts and those of officers and staff who display unwavering professionalism every single day."