Officer over limit found asleep in car on duty guilty of misconduct

On-duty female police officer, 38, more than three times drink-drive limit was discovered asleep behind the wheel of patrol car clutching a bottle of wine is found guilty of misconduct

  • Helen Kane, 38, was found ‘slumped’ against the driver side of a police van
  • Was also found with a bottle of wine by a dog walker on November 3 last year 
  • Kane later gave a reading of 117 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath 
  • Northumbria Police officer denied charges but was found guilty by a jury 

An on-duty female police officer who was more than three times the drink-drive limit when she was found asleep behind the wheel of a patrol car clutching a bottle of wine has been found guilty of misconduct.

Northumbria Police officer Helen Kane, 38, was found ‘slumped’ against the driver’s side of a police van when a dog walker passed by on November 3 last year.

The marked van, which also contained three police dogs, was seen parked in the middle of a junction in Whickham, near Gateshead with its engine still running.

When the member of the public took a look inside, Kane could be seen with a bottle of white wine between her legs. 

Kane, from Belmont, County Durham, stood trial last week at Teesside Crown Court charged with misconduct in a public office – which she denied. 

But on Friday, after less than an hour of deliberation, Kane was found guilty of the charge by a jury.

Northumbria Police officer Helen Kane (pictured), 38, was found ‘slumped’ against the driver side of the police van when a dog walker passed by on November 3 last year

The two-day trial heard Kane was an on duty police officer when a dog walker saw a police van parked in the middle of a junction in the middle of the day. 

Due to the ‘odd’ scene, the dog-walker looked inside and saw Kane ‘slumped’ against the seat belt of the driver’s side of the van.

Prosecutor Robin Turton said: ‘After several bangs [on the window] the female police officer’s head raised up and she wound down the window and had a brief conversation. 

‘The officer said she was alright, but when she was told she was parked in the middle of the road, she said: “Am I?”. 

‘Between her legs was a brown wine bottle. When the member of the public was satisfied the driver was OK, she walked off but took a photograph of the police vehicle and phoned 999.’

Kane, from Belmont, County Durham, stood trial last week at Teesside Crown Court charged with misconduct in a public office – which she denied. But on Friday (pictured at court), after less than an hour of deliberation, Kane was found guilty of the charge by a jury

On the last day of the trial, Kane gave evidence and told the jury she was going through ‘personal and professional’ difficulties at the time and accepted she had been drunk on duty. Pictured: Teesside Crown Court

Kane was later breath tested at Southwick Police Station in Sunderland and gave a reading of 117 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath -the legal limit being 35 micrograms.

On the last day of the trial, Kane gave evidence and told the jury she was going through ‘personal and professional’ difficulties at the time and accepted she had been drunk on duty. 

She told jurors that her professional troubles stemmed from a protest in Newcastle city centre when a member of the public was bitten by a police dog. 

She said: ‘My police dog was wrongly identified as that dog. As a result, I was advised by Northumbria Police 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 anti-depressants. She explained she did not like taking time off work and ‘used alcohol to cope’.

The jury heard that Kane had one previous conviction, which was for driving with excess alcohol relating to the same incident – which she had admitted.. She had no other convictions or cautions.

Kane will be sentenced on a date which is to be set, but is understood to be in December.

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