Northumbria Police officer found drunk behind wheel of police van avoids jail
A Northumbria police officer on duty who was found intoxicated in a police van has been given a suspended sentence.
Helen Kane, 38, has been given a six-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of misconduct in public office after a trial last month.
Kane was over three times the legal alcohol limit when a dog walker found her asleep behind the wheel of a parked police car on November 3 last year.
Read more: Northumbria Police Officer drunk on duty was going through ‘tough times’, jury hears
The marked van, which also contained three police dogs, was seen parked with its engine running in the middle of a junction at Waggs Lane in Whickham, near Gateshead.
When the audience peeked in, Kane could be seen “slumped down” against the driver’s side of the car with a bottle of white wine between her legs.
Kane, from Belmont, County Durham, was on trial at Teesside Crown Court, but after less than an hour of deliberation, Kane was found guilty by a jury of charges.
On Friday, Kane was also sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid labor and banned from driving for two years.
The two-day trial revealed Kane was a police officer on duty when a dog walker saw a police car parked in the middle of an intersection in the middle of the day. Due to the “strange” scene, the handler looked inside and saw Kane “slumped down” against the driver’s side seat belt of the van.
Prosecutor Robin Turton said: “After several hits [on the window] The policewoman raised her head, rolled down the window and had a short conversation.
“The officer said she was fine, but when told she was parked in the middle of the street, she said, ‘Am I?’
“There was a brown wine bottle between her legs. When the member of the public was satisfied that the driver was okay, she walked away but took a picture of the police vehicle and called 999.”
Kane was later given a breath test at Southwick Police Station in Sunderland and found 117 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35 micrograms.
On the last day of the trial, Kane testified, telling the jury she was having “personal and professional” difficulties at the time and accepting that she had been drunk on duty.
She told jurors her professional problems stemmed from a protest in Newcastle city center when a member of the public was bitten by a police dog.
She said: “My police dog was misidentified as this dog. As a result I have been told by Northumbria Police that I am at risk.”
Kane said that due to other issues in her personal life, she went to a family doctor for her stress and anxiety and was prescribed antidepressants. She explained she doesn’t like taking time off from work and “takes alcohol to cope.”
The jury heard Kane had a previous conviction of driving with excessive alcohol in connection with the same incident – which she admitted. She had no other condemnations or warnings.