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Criminal affair Disgraced PSNI officer who had year long affair with vulnerable criminal remanded into custody

Prosecuting counsel David Russell outlined how the drink and drug addicted “vulnerable” victim had been left “feeling humiliated…hurt and having been taken advantage of” by the year long affair

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Mark Goddard

Mark Goddard

Mark Goddard

A police officer who conducted a year long illicit affair with an habitual criminal was remanded into custody on Friday to await sentencing.

Although Judge Patrick Lynch QC said he was content to free Constable Mark Goddard on bail until 9 August, that was on the understanding that “I think he would have to make preparations that he won’t be available to return to his family” after the hearing.

With Mrs Goddard sitting in the public gallery of Craigavon Crown Court, the disgraced officer consulted with her and agreed to be remanded into prison.

At an earlier hearing father-of-two Goddard (36) and whose address was given as c/o Lisburn PSNI station, entered guilty pleas to two counts of misconduct in public office by disclosing confidential information from the police computer system and that he “wilfully misconducted yourself to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust” in that while both on and off duty, he engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman he encountered as part of his duties, “knowing that she was vulnerable at that time and that it was wrong for you to engage in such activity” with both offences committed between 14 June 2017 and 12 May 2018.

Opening the facts of the case on Friday, prosecuting counsel David Russell outlined how the drink and drug addicted “vulnerable” victim had been left “feeling humiliated…hurt and having been taken advantage of” by the year long affair with Goddard.

At the time, he had been a police officer for eight years and the court heard that while the victim was “known to police,” Goddard had arrested and questioned her in relation to a burglary in June 2017.

Ironically, she had stood in the same dock and before the same judge as Goddard did  on Friday, when she was handed a probation order for that offence.

Turning back to Goddard’s offending Mr Russell said that having given the victim his official police contact card she began to “chase him,” admitting herself that she “fancied him.”

When she texted him late one night while intoxicated, he initially maintained a stance that “he was a married police officer and she was a criminal and that was not allowed” but by the end of the month however, the pair had began a consensual sexual relationship.

During that affair, the court heard, Goddard used both his police issue mobile phone, his personal mobile and social media messaging to exchange “thousands” of text messages, many of them “highly sexualised,” explicit images of himself and ask for intimate images of his victim “in return.”

“During the following months the victim states that she had numerous sexual encounters with Constable Goddard when he was both on and off duty,” said the lawyer adding that he gave her the moniker “sugar tits” and called her his “secret f*** buddy.”

Their illicit affair came to light In May 2018 when the police were investigating a stabbing incident and spoke to the woman who revealed she had been having an affair with Goddard.

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At the time, she was standing in the street in only her underwear and under the influence of either alcohol or drugs so officers at the scene took her claims as “no more than drunken ramblings” but when a sergeant spoke to her a few days later, she repeated her claims and that sparked the investigation into Goddard’s conduct.

Mr Russell described how that investigation uncovered not just the affair but also that Goddard had accessed the police computer system and disclosed confidential details to his lover in breach of the police code of conduct.

The information he disclosed were not “matters of intelligence” but rather related to the case and investigation against the woman he was sleeping with.

An examination of her phone revealed that Goddard “was always telling her to keep her moth shut, perhaps unsurprisingly” and also that when the pair had a sexual encounter in Goddard’s marital bedroom on Boxing Day, the officers lover took a photograph and sent it to his wife.

Mr Russell submitted that given the nature of the affair and the extent of Goddard’s misconduct, the issue of deterrence was an important feature and further that “the public must see that condign punishment will die for a police officer who betrays the trust reposed in them.”

Defence counsel Michael McAleer, instructed by McConnell Kelly solicitors, conceded that while the custody threshold has been passed he urged the judge to suspend any custodial sentence.

“We have a man who made not just a silly mistake but an absolutely outrageous mistake of not resisting an advance that was made to him,” said the lawyer who revealed that to this day, Goddard is still a police officer though suspended on full pay.

“He has tendered his resignation although that has not yet been accepted,” said Mr McAleer who further conceded that come what may, Goddard “will leave the force with his head hung low in shame.”

He said while the disgraced officer has lost “essentially what would have been a job for life,” his wife is standing by him and the family are relocating to England.

Remanding Goddard into custody until 9 August, Judge Lynch said he wanted to give appropriate consideration to guideline authorities as well as the various reports and testimonials.
 

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