A police officer who forced his way into his estranged wife’s home and shoved her to the ground has been sacked.
PC Ian Upperton, a traffic cop who has appeared in two Peter James novels, also twice told a colleague he would murder his ex – and the superintendent who had imposed bail conditions stopping him from going to the family home.
He was arrested over the assault, but the criminal investigation was dropped after his ex retracted her statement.
But the professional standards inquiry continued, and at a disciplinary hearing this week he was found guilty of gross misconduct and instantly dismissed.
Speaking on behalf of Sussex Police, Matt Holdcroft told the panel that how police officers are investigated over allegations of domestic violence was the subject of a super complaint against all police forces launched by the Centre for Women’s Justice.
He said: “This isn’t an isolated incident. The domesticated violence continues after the officer should have realised it was the wrong thing to do.
“He remains in the property and he tries to shift the blame onto his ex wife.
“This is right at the top of public concern about policing. It’s so significant that it’s a super complaint, which are rare indeed. But even more rare, a super complaint which is actually being investigated.”
He added: “The officer has become non deployable because he could not be put in a role where he could potentially be sent to an incident involving domestic violence.
“One can only imagine how the victim of a domestic incident would feel to find out that PC Upperton had a domestic violence conduct finding against him.”
Speaking for PC Upperton, Sergeant Scott Kendall highlighted his otherwise “unblemished” 26-year record with Sussex Police, during which he had received a commendation for entering a burning building to rescue a woman who had been stabbed 28 times.
He said: “He accepts he allowed his behaviour to slip below the standards expected of him.
“It’s abundantly clear that he was not functioning as a normal human being at the time.
“He regrets that he did not and he does not wish to shy away from the fact he pushed his ex wife and caused her injuries.
“PC Upperton’s conduct was never deliberate, never targeted or planned. There’s no history of domestic violence.”
The incident happened in November 2019, after PC Upperton had left his wife for another woman and had moved out of the marital home.
He had come back to put a record deck into the loft, which his ex objected to. She closed the door on him twice, and both times he shoved it open, knocking her to the floor.
He then shoved her to the floor again, leaving her with bruises to her wrist and upper arm. His adult daughter called the police and he was arrested and taken away in a patrol car.
His ex then went to the family court to get a non-molestation order against him. However, she later stopped cooperating with police, and the criminal investigation was dropped.
However, when PC Upperton was told about the non-molestation order, both over the phone and in person, he told his welfare officer, Sergeant Huw Watts, that he would murder her.
His ex was informed of the remarks, given window locks and a personal alarm and told to call 999 if he attended and not to engage with him.
Sergeant Watts told today’s hearing that he knew PC Upperton was under a lot of stress because of a recent cancer diagnosis and his separation.
Asked why he took the comments so seriously, he said: “To a degree there was covering my back to make sure but there’s also making sure that he took care of his mental health and making sure nothing does happen down the line.
He added: “It was a rant. He was angry at the time and I just wanted to put things in place because of what Ian was going through in terms of his personal and mental health.
“I saw it as a rant against the organisation and myself.”
The chair of the panel, Victoria Goodfellow said that in considering whether or not to dismiss PC Upperton, both the mitigating and aggravating factors had been significant.
But the current national concerns about how domestic violence involving police officers tipped the balance in favour of immediate dismissal.
She said: “Taking into account the broader degree of national concern about domestic violence, particularly involving police officers as perpetrators … the only outcome the panel has found that adequately matches this is dismissal without notice.”
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