PC Jonathan Adams is, like me, a fan of horse racing. However, his enthusiasm for the sport caught up with him when he faked illness to watch horses in which he had an interest.
PC Adams was praised for his community policing work in Gloucester city centre and was described by a retired chief inspector as being “one of the most honest police officers I have ever come across”.
On 30 September 2015 he was off work, having called in to say that he was suffering from diarrhoea. However, this coincided with the running of Little Lady Katie at Nottingham, a then three year old filly trained by Karl Burke in which he had a 2.5% share. The horse was third of eleven at odds of 16/1. In the subsequent investigation his attendance at the racecourse was revealed by a number plate check.
He was at Nottingham races again on 6 April 2016, this time watching the same horse come seventh of twelve at odds of 8/1 and having called in sick with a migraine.
He subsequently requested the week off for Royal Ascot and was refused. Undeterred, he told Gloucestershire Constabulary that he had to take 17 June off because he was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. Somewhat unwisely, particularly bearing in mind his occupation, he was spotted later that day on Channel 4 Racing, leaping about with joy (pictured: credit Channel 4 Television), when another Karl Burke horse in the same syndicate ownership (but in which he didn’t have a stake), Quiet Reflection, won the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, having gone off at at odds of 7/4 favourite and beating, among others, the Aidan O’Brien trained Washington DC.
At a disciplinary hearing held over two days in July 2017 PC Adams said that he had decided that it would do him more good to go to the races than stay at home because racecourses were his “happy place” where he could alleviate his symptoms of crippling stomach ache and stabbing pains or migraines. In that case he must have acted quickly, notwithstanding his ailment, when arranging to attend the Royal Enclosure at Ascot suitably attired and bearing in mind that he lives in Ross-on-Wye.
At the hearing his barrister, Richard Shepherd, said that racing was “therapeutic” for him and provided a “coping mechanism” to help him deal with work-related stress. He went on to say that racing did not have a “clean and wholesome” reputation and if he had chosen to go “walking, sailing or for a spa day” it would not have raised eyebrows in the same way. However, Stephen Morley, a lawyer representing Gloucestershire Constabulary, said that it was their view that he had decided to go “on a jolly”, adding “our position is he wasn’t sick at all, he was throwing a ‘sickie’ to go horse racing”.
It was noted that notwithstanding his stated conditions “he was well enough to be in the Royal Enclosure, jumping around”.
Panel chair Alex Lock said that they concluded that PC Adams was not as sick as he claimed and that he should be dismissed. He added
As the allegations relate to his honesty and integrity they must fall into the category of gross misconduct.
It is important that police officers are honest and that public confidence should be upheld. In the circumstances, we conclude that dismissal without notice is appropriate in order to maintain public confidence in the force.