Hampshire police officer kicked McLaren Formula 1 car causing £2,076 damage after drinking cocktails ahead of Spice Girls concert
A POLICE officer caused thousands of pounds of damage to a McLaren Formula 1 car by kicking it 'like she was taking a penalty' after downing cocktails in a hotel bar.
PC Demi Love was drinking with friends in the Hilton hotel before they were due to see the Spice Girls perform at nearby Wembley Stadium.
The bright orange Formula 1 car, which had been driven by double world champion Fernando Alonso for McLaren during the 2018 season, takes pride of place in the hotel's reception area.
As they left, the off duty policewoman was caught on CCTV 'running' up to the valuable car and kicking it, causing a 'loud bang' and £2,076 worth of damage.
The hotel manager said Love looked 'like she was taking a penalty'.
Love, who has since resigned from the force, denied that she intentionally kicked the car and claimed she had simply tripped into it.
But a gross misconduct panel found her guilty of 'discreditable conduct' and breaching standards of honesty and integrity, by lying during investigations. It ruled she would have been dismissed without notice had she not already resigned.
The Hampshire Constabulary Misconduct Hearing was told Love drank about four cocktails with her friends before the incident at the Hilton Hotel near Wembley Stadium, London in June 2019.
She is also alleged to have given untruthful accounts during a criminal interview with Metropolitan Police and an interview conducted by the Professional Standards Department where she claimed the damage was accidental, despite CCTV footage suggesting otherwise.
Barrister Stephen Morley, prosecuting on behalf of the Professional Standards Department, said: "PC Love said in interview she had about four cocktails but denied she was drunk.
‘Upon leaving the hotel, in the reception area of the hotel something happened with a car parked in the foyer. This wasn't just any car, this was a McLaren Formula 1 car.
‘CCTV footage captures PC Love and her friends coming out of the lift, turning left and stopping momentarily.
‘It looks like a group of young ladies who had had a few drinks.
‘The footage shows PC Love stopping momentarily a few feet away from the vehicle then quickly moving towards it, kicking it, turning around and going back to her friends.’
Mr Morley said this was caught on four different angles, showing Love first looking to her left 'to see who was looking'.
The incident was also seen by the hotel manager Ross Blezard, who was standing about 10 yards away from the car when PC Love kicked it.
Mr Morley said: (He said) I was looking in the direction of the car and I saw the lady running for three steps at speed before kicking it hard enough to cause a loud bang, like she was taking a penalty. She started laughing and giggling.’
The misconduct hearing was told that while the damage was relatively small it still cost £2,076 to repair.
Mr Morley said Love appeared in magistrates court for the offence of criminal damage which she pleaded not guilty to.
The Crown Prosecution Service has since dropped criminal proceedings after Love paid for the damage she had caused, but she still faced a misconduct hearing.
Hampshire police said she gave ‘untruthful accounts’ of what happened when interviewed by police.
Mr Morley said: ‘PC Love says this was all a complete accident. She says she was moving towards her friends... she says she tripped or slipped and fell on to the vehicle.
‘The footage and Mr Blezard's account... makes it clear that she didn't slip or fall, she was walking with purpose towards the vehicle.
‘We say that the footage and PC Love's account simply do not tally.’
Sergeant Moray Anderson, representing Love, read out a short statement to the panel which said: ‘PC Love has consistently denied that she deliberately damaged the car.
‘She accepts having drinks with her friends, she accepts having contact with the car and she accepts that she caused the damage.
‘She regrets her actions but remained adamant that the damage was accidental.
‘She has taken responsibility for causing the damage and taken steps to put it right.’
Harry Ireland, the legally qualified chair of the police misconduct panel, said: ‘In the first 15 seconds [of the footage] the former officer can be seen to make a deliberate movement with her right foot in to the car body.
‘There was no fall or trip, it was a deliberate action.’
Both charges were found proved and the panel made the finding that, had Love not already resigned, she would have been dismissed.
Hilton describes itself as a ‘proud sponsor’ of the McLaren Formula 1 team.
Spanish driver Fernando Alonso won two F1 world championships. He raced for McLaren between 2015 and 2018.