June 21, 2021 11.55 am

Ex-cop quit before misconduct hearing over Snapchatting while driving a police car

He “repeatedly lied” about not doing it

A police officer’s career was left in tatters after he used a handheld mobile phone to record footage of himself listening to music while at the wheel of his marked vehicle.

PC Matthew Breathwick was caught after he used the Snapchat social media application to share the footage with colleagues while on duty.

The incident occured during a night shift on November 6 while PC Breathwick was driving a police van at 50mph on the A17 in Lincolnshire.

PC Breathwick, who was based in Spalding, was convicted in March this year of using a handheld mobile phone while driving and resigned from the force.

A Lincolnshire Police misconduct hearing was told the officer repeatedly lied about the incident after being challenged by colleagues who viewed his Snapchat footage.

The hearing was told a police officer who was sat next to PC Breathwick in the van became so angry when she was alerted to the footage by Snapchat that she asked to be dropped off and made her own way back to Spalding police station.

David Ring, prosecuting, said: “To be blunt it beggars belief that a serving police officer behaved in that way, especially at night, driving at 50mph on the A17.”

Mr Ring said the two officers were heading towards Long Sutton on the A17 when they used Bluetooth to put music on the van’s stereo.

PC Breathwick’s colleague was alerted to his behaviour by an alert to her own mobile phone from a shared Snapchat group.

Mr Ring said the message showed footage from inside the police van with audio playing and gave the username ‘Breathers.’

PC Breathwick’s colleague looked across and noticed him flipping back his handheld mobile phone.

The footage drew immediate responses from some of PC Breathwick’s colleagues who were also alerted by his Snapchat message and were concerned about his use of a handheld mobile phone while driving a police van.

Mr Ring said PC Breathwick responded by claiming his phone had remained in his stab vest and the camera had been activated by his fleece coat.

He then continued to lie about his use of the phone when he was confronted by a senior colleague the following day.

Mr Ring said PC Breathwick’s conduct showed persistent dishonesty and went against the public campaign of Lincolnshire Police that handheld mobile phones should not be used while driving.

“A police officer, while on duty, doing exactly what the public are told not to do,” Mr Ring added.

Breathwick, who did not attend the hearing, admitted four charges of professional misconduct and was respresented by Sergeant Lee Willoughby from Lincolnshire Police Federation.

Sgt Willoughby told the hearing: “There is genuine remorse, a silly act has resulted in the end of a previously unblemished career.”

Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Chris Haward found Breathwick guilty of gross misconduct and ruled the officer would have been dismissed from the Force if he had not already resigned.

Chief Constable Haward admitted it was a decision he had made with a “heavy heart” after reading a wealth of testimonials about the officer.

“They speak of a person who helped others, not only as a police officer, but as a coastguard.”

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