HIGHLY sensitive documents containing the addresses and intimate details of sex offenders and their victims were discovered in a skip after a police sergeant took them home in two Lidl carrier bags.

Martin Skirving-Chehab, of Cleveland Police, only realised his mother in law had thrown them out by accident when he received a Whatsapp message from his pregnant wife saying: “My mother put that Lidl, that Lidl carrier bag with your work things in the f****** recycling bin”.

They were later discovered by a dog walker by a skip next to the officer’s home and were handed over to The Sun newspaper, which ran a story about the security breach before handing the documents back to police.

Sgt Skirving-Chehab is now accused of breaching police standards and is facing a public hearing which will determine whether his actions were gross misconduct.

The hearing, at Hartlepool’s Grand Hotel, was told by Joan Smith, on behalf of Cleveland Police, that the officer took the carrier bags home from a police unit which specialises in managing sex offenders.

He had been asked to go through the material and catalogue it, but instead he stored it in a desk in his home, before it was moved to the kitchen and then accidentally thrown out.

The papers contained sensitive documents about 55 offenders, including their bank details, addresses, car registration numbers as well as information about victims, official statements and CCTV evidence.

The disciplinary panel has heard an inquiry was launched after The Sun ran a story about the leak in June last year, and he told investigators that it had happened due to a “complete fluke” and “an unfortunate set of circumstances”.

Mr Skirving-Chehab, who is 42 and has been an officer for 15 years, was asked to remove the carrier bags from the Sex Offenders Management Unit (Somu) and he took them back to his home in Hartlepool. He kept them unsecured beside his desk at home, before they were put in the kitchen.

Joan Smith, representing the force, said: “One can only imagine the potential risk to property and life if the information fell into the hands of vigilantes.”

The force’s reputation had suffered as a consequence of the confidential material ending up in a skip, she said.

Cleveland Police contacted all the offenders mentioned in the documents and seven have made a formal complaint, and the force had to step in to answer concerns about their safety following the security breach, as well as provide help to relocate if necessary, she said.

Mr Skirving-Chehab has admitted misconduct but denies gross misconduct.

Giving evidence, he said he was no longer working at the Somu, and was a family liaison officer on murder cases, when the breach occurred.

The officer learned that his work book had been found dumped when a senior officer telephoned him while he was in the maternity unit after his wife had given birth to their first child.

He told the hearing: “I think I went from the happiest person to almost everything crashing around me.”

The officer told the hearing he hoped others could learn from his mistakes, and that he had talked to the data protection manager about putting together training for colleagues.

He said: “I wanted to try to do something positive with this if that was at all possible, otherwise it would have just crushed me completely.

“I never in a million years would have expected this to happen.

“If I can stop this happening to anybody else, I’ll take some comfort.”