Policeman dismissed for gross misconduct once dubbed 'true hero' after saving baby's life

PC Declan Gabriel
PC Declan Gabriel

The police officer once branded ‘a true hero’ by the mother of a 12-month old daughter whose life he once saved will never work for the force again after he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

Seven months before the incident which led to PC Gabriel's dismissal he attended a crime scene near Kingsley Park Terrace when he saw a woman in distress.

He rushed over, was told a child was having breathing problems and performed first aid before speeding the baby to Northampton General Hospital where doctors told him his actions had most likely saved the baby's life.

PC Gabriel was recommended for a commendation for his actions.

"Thank you, Declan, for saving my daughter’s life," read a message on the Chron's Facebook page posted by the girl's mother, Rachel.

"I’ll always be truly grateful. You’re a true hero."

PC Gabriel was subject to a fast-track misconduct investigation yesterday for his behaviour in the company of a teenager while on duty in September 2015, which resulted in charges of rape and sexual assault being brought against him.

In February 2017 he was acquitted of the charges but the 28-year-old’s conduct while in the company of the girl was found to be in breach of the public confidence and the police service as a whole.

Chief Constable Simon Edens chaired the hearing at Northamptonshire Police's headquarters at Wooton Hall.

The hearing heard that PC Gabriel attended an address in Northampton in the early hours of September 2015 following a domestic incident involving a vulnerable 17-year-old girl and her mother.

The 28-year-old officer was tasked with taking the teenager to a place of safety, instead he asked her about her relationship with her boyfriend before driving past the house he was supposed to be taking her to. He then drove to a secluded layby where he proceeded to unzip his trousers and put his hands inside them claiming that he needed to re-adjust his underwear.

PC Gabriel stated during his trial that the teenager then touched him inappropriately.

At no point did PC Gabriel report this incident, nor did he request another officer join him to take the teenager on to the place of safety. He also failed to note the incident in his pocket notebook or on forms he filled in about the domestic incident involving the teenager.

Delivering his outcome, Chief Constable Edens said: “Police officers are required to be honest and act with integrity at all times; they must not compromise or abuse their position. PC Gabriel, like most police officers, would have operated on trust and therefore would not have needed nor received close supervision.

"He had a significant amount of power and authority, particularly in relation to a teenage girl who was temporarily in his care. He has breached that trust and exploited that power and authority.

“The gravity of the breaches and the circumstances in which PC Gabriel committed them leave me in no doubt that he has committed gross misconduct, conduct so serious that it justifies dismissal.”

Mr Edens added: “He was entrusted to act in the best interests of a vulnerable teenage girl but he failed to do that.

“Northamptonshire Police has daily contact with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Nobody should ever have any concerns about the way they will be treated by officers and staff when they deal with them; nor should they fear that anyone from Northamptonshire Police might want to exploit them.

"I am proud to lead a force which is made up of men and women who operate professionally and ethically, with mercifully few exceptions.

“PC Gabriel has grossly breached the trust placed in him by the force, the community, and by the young girl and her family. Without that trust, he is unable to operate as a police officer.

“There is no place for him in this force or in policing as a whole and I therefore dismiss him from the police service without notice. His name will be placed on a College of Policing register so he cannot be employed by any police force in the country.”