Drunk police officer crashed car into wall then blamed made up driver called 'Tony'

An image of the Merseyside Police badge at the force's HQ
-Credit: (Image: Liverpool Echo)

A former police constable ploughed his car into a wall while drunk, pushed away an officer and claimed another man called "Tony" was driving.

A post-employment hearing was told this morning, Monday, June 17 that former Merseyside Police Constable Idris Saroke crashed his Mitsubishi Cult while drunk, five days before he was due to face separate misconduct allegations. What followed was a stream of additional misconduct allegations which saw the former copper flee the scene, assault a police officer and lie about who was driving the car.

However, the officer, who previously unsuccessfully applied to have the proceedings held in private, refused to attend his misconduct hearing and offer any mitigation. Opening the case in his absence, Chloe Hill, appearing for the AA, told the hearing the former PC crashed his car into the front garden of a house on Southport Road, in Scarisbrick, in the early hours of December 11 2022.

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Ms Hill said: "A witness called Catherine Jones heard the car drive on the road and then heard the collision. She went to her window and saw the car crashed into the wall. She went down to check that the driver was alright. She asked if he was okay and he replied no. She said he appeared drunk...was stumbling and slurring his words...behaving like an active drunk."

The man was described as broad, large, with a bald head and tanned dark skin. He appeared to be in his 50s and was wearing a leather jacket, black jeans and boots. The hearing heard the first responder at the scene was PC Shevington, of Lancashire Police. He arrived shortly after 1.18am to find the car crashed into the wall.

He searched further down the road for the driver and found the former PC Saroke walking along the road as there was no footpath. PC Shevington said he appeared drunk and you could "smell intoxicants on his person", Ms Hill told the hearing.

The then PC was asked to provide a breath specimen but attempted to run off. PC Shevington had drawn his PAVA incapacitant spray when former PC Saroke changed direction and ran towards him. The hearing was told the former officer grabbed the spray cord, making it fall to the ground, and pushed past the officer.

He was later arrested further up the road. PC Hignett told former PC Saroke that he was going to have to provide a breath sample because officers believed he was the driver of the car. PC Hignett's bodycam footage, which was played to the hearing, showed him respond: "I didn't drive the car, someone else drove the car."

Former PC Saroke blew 84mg/100ml - with the legal limit being 35mg - and was arrested. He was taken to Preston custody suite while his car was searched. A certificate was found in the car which showed it belonged to former PC Saroke and had failed its MOT. PC Hignett noted a number of obvious defects to the car, including its tyres, and said it would have been served with an immediate prohibition notice preventing it from being driven unless the problems were fixed.

Ms Hill told the hearing former PC Saroke answered no comment to all questions in the police interview apart from one from his legal representation. During questioning, the former officer did not respond to questions about who was driving, until his solicitor asked: "Do you want to give the other person's name?" PC Saroke replied "Tony" but then continued to respond "no comment" when asked to give the man's full name.

Former PC Saroke was charged with drink driving and dangerous driving and entered not guilty pleas. The hearing heard the matter was due to go before the criminal court for trial, but the matter was ultimately discontinued. He resigned from the police force in June 2023.

He was alleged to have breached the standards of professional police behaviour to the level of gross misconduct. The former officer faced allegations that he drove a motor vehicle whilst intoxicated; made off from the scene of a crash; assaulted a police officer; was untruthful as to who was driving the vehicle; and drove a vehicle that was not in a roadworthy condition.

Ms Hill told the hearing it was the AA's belief that "he was driving the vehicle while under the influence, he left the scene and the vehicle was not roadworthy and should not have been driven at all". She added it was the AA's case that PC Saroke was the driver of the car because the keys were found in his pockets when he was searched and that two witnesses had not seen anyone else in the car.

She added one of the witnesses claimed to have seen PC Saroke try to reverse the vehicle before abandoning it - and documentation found in the car was in his name. Ms Hill also told the hearing on two occasions - before he was breath tested and when he was interviewed at the police station - PC Saroke had failed to honestly disclose he was driving.

A panel chaired by Warren Spencer determined on the balance of probabilities that all the allegations against the former officer were true and discreditable conduct was proved. Mr Spencer told the hearing that the series of allegations amounted to gross misconduct.

Mr Spencer said the former PC's culpability was high due to the fact he was drunk, while the harm was significant in terms of both the financial impact on the owner of the wall that was damaged and the reputation of the police. Mr Spencer said the two witnesses of the incident would have been "appalled" to learn the man in question was a serving police officer.

He added that at the time of the incident PC Saroke was due to face different misconduct allegations five days later. He was issued with a written warning. Mr Spencer said: "He may have been concerned about his upcoming hearing but that has not been put forward by him as he has chosen to not offer mitigation."

He said the former officer had shown no remorse or consideration for his actions and that the misconduct procedure was in place to protect the public's confidence in the reputation of policing. Although the former PC had resigned before the proceedings took place, Mr Spencer said the panel determined disciplinary action was still needed and said he would have been dismissed without notice. He has also been added to the College of Policing's barred list.

Detective Chief Superintendent Sarbjit Kaur, head of the force’s Professional Standards Department, said: “We remain committed to ensuring that all police officers and staff working for Merseyside Police maintain the highest professional standards both on and off duty and when anyone is found behaving in a way that does not meet those standards we will take swift and robust action.

“It is imperative that the public of Merseyside have trust and confidence in our workforce and know that we will not shy away from acting on information which indicates members of staff are behaving in a way that does not align with our principles and expectations.

“It is important to stress that the overwhelming majority of our police officers and staff act with respect, professionalism and integrity at all times but we have empowered officers and staff to challenge unacceptable behaviour through our internal Call it Out campaign as well as providing an avenue to confidentially report behaviour into our Professional Standards Department.”

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