Hartlepool police officer facing claims he drank 15 pints and squeezed woman's breast as conduct hearing opens

The hearing is being held at The Grand Hotel, Hartlepool. Picture: Google.
The hearing is being held at The Grand Hotel, Hartlepool. Picture: Google.

A police officer squeezed a woman's breast in a bar when he was on a day-trip out with colleagues during which he drank up to 16 pints of beer, a disciplinary hearing was told.

Pc Ralph Bainbridge denies the allegation that he breached Cleveland Police's Standards of Professional Behaviour when he was on a pub crawl in York, and says he was trying to give the woman a hug.

The disciplinary hearing at the Grand Hotel, Hartlepool, heard the woman - who cannot be identified by the media - said: "Get off, you are lucky I haven't punched you in the throat."

Dijen Basu QC, representing Cleveland Police, said the officer had been out with others since opening time, and even though he was off-duty, he was still expected to abide by his employer's code of conduct.

Mr Basu said that Pc Bainbridge, who at the time was acting as a sergeant based in Hartlepool, drank 15 or 16 pints of beer that day.

He was drinking with around 10 colleagues on the day out last October, some of whom were drunk.

The lawyer said: "Later in the evening, without warning, Pc Bainbridge grabbed (the woman) from behind and squeezed one of her breasts.

"She said she did not consent to that."

Pc Bainbridge will claim he meant to hug the woman, Mr Basu said, and that it was "all a terrible accident and he did not mean to touch her breast".

The alleged victim gave evidence at the disciplinary hearing and said Pc Bainbridge came up behind her, put one arm around her waist and reached over her shoulder to squeeze her breast with his other arm.

She said if the touching had been accidental, she would have expected him to apologise when she reacted angrily, but the officer did not.

The hearing, which is scheduled to last four days, continues.