Northumbria police officer who was drunk on duty was going through ‘tough times’, jury says

An on-duty Northumbria police officer who was found drunk and slumped in a police van was going through “difficult times”, a jury heard.

Helen Kane was over triple the legal drinking limit when a dog walker found her asleep at the wheel of a parked police van on November 3 last year. The marked van, which also contained three police dogs, was seen parked in the middle of a junction on Waggs Lane in Whickham, near Gateshead with its engine still running. When the audience member peeked inside, Kane could be seen “slumped” against the driver’s side of the car with a bottle of white wine between her legs.

Kane, 38, from Belmont, County Durham, is currently on trial at Teesside Crown Court on charges of misconduct in public office. She denies the charge.

Read more: Peterlee kidnapper stole the family car and drove away with their two-year-old baby sitting in the back

On Friday, Kane testified at her trial and told the jury that she was going through “personal and professional” difficulties at the time. The jury heard that Kane was on duty and in uniform at the time and had attended a training course that morning.

Asking him questions, defense attorney Steven Reed asked: “Do you accept that on November 3 of last year you were drunk on duty?” Kane replied, “Yes.” Mr Reed continued: “Why were you drunk that day?” Kane replied: “I was going through tough times, both professionally and personally.”

Kane told the jury that his 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, Northumbria Police advised me there was a risk to me.” Kane said that due to other issues in her personal life, she went to see a GP regarding her stress and anxiety and was prescribed antidepressants. She explained that she didn’t like being absent from work and “used alcohol to cope”.

When asked why she drank that day, she replied, “At that time, I was drinking to get through the day.” She also said she “believed” she was probably drunk when she showed up for work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day. Kane was also asked why she hadn’t informed her employer of her unemployability. She replied, “I didn’t know how sick I was at the time,” and added that she didn’t want to lose her place in her department.

The jury heard that Kane had a previous conviction for drunken driving related to the same incident – which she admitted. She had no other convictions or warnings. After being found driving the van, Kane allegedly “kneaded” as she spoke to the dog walker and was later taken to Southwick Police Station in Sunderland where she was given a breathalyzer test. She gave a reading of 117 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35 micrograms.

In his closing speech, Mr Reed told the jury: “This defendant knows what she did was wrong, she’s not trying to hide from it… but it’s not serious enough to constitute a wrongdoing in the public service. Did she deliberately set out to harm the public interest? No. She was suffering from an illness at the time.

Procedure.

. officer police Northumbria who was drunk service was going through of the tough times according to jury

. Northumbria police officer drunk duty tough times jury