A former police officer has admitted breaching professional standards when he lied to his boss about speaking to the family of a murder suspect.

PC Russell Robson ‘panicked’ when he was confronted by his sergeant about whether he spoke to the mother and sister of a man suspected of being involved in a murder in Guisborough.

The Cleveland Police officer, who has since retired from the force, was deployed in the town to keep an eye out for the suspect but was warned not to enter the street where armed police were expected to carry out a search.

A disciplinary hearing was told how the officer was going through an ‘extremely difficult’ time in his private life and panicked after he accidentally bumped into the suspect’s relatives and told them about the manhunt.

Adam Keenaghan, representing the force, said allegations related to the ex-officer being part of a major operation attempting to locate two people wanted in connection with a murder in August 2022.

He said the force accepted the ex-officer’s assertion that he had spoken to the family members without ‘malicious intent’ but lying about his behaviour only compounded his problems.

Colin Banham, representing Mr Robson, said his client was under extreme pressure at the time and had not deliberately sought out the family members before urging them to get the suspect to hand themselves into police.

said: “The officer didn’t act with malign intent when he spoke to the family and thereafter, he panicked.

“He was trying to help the police and family (when he spoke to them). He tried to do the right thing but accepts he stepped over the line.”

He told the independent panel that the officer had a blemish free record during his 22 years’ service and was awarded a bravery honour after he chased down two armed robbers.

Sergeant Stephen Chambers, who was the officer’s direct line manager at the time, spoke passionately about his former colleague’s error of judgement when he lied to him about speaking to the family.

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“He was going through such a difficult time. Things were extremely tough for him,” he said.

“I have no doubt that he panicked on the day. He didn’t try to derail the investigation.”

Nick Hawkins, the independent chairman of the misconduct panel, said the breach was so serious that the only outcome available to them would have been dismissal if he was still a serving officer.

The ex-officer was placed on the College of Policing’s barred list meaning he will not be able to work for any other force in the country.