Lewis Abubakar managed to get away from the ‘incompetent’ officers and go on the run for 40 days before eventually turning himself in.
PCs Lydia Jackson and Rob Lawton were told to watch the then suspected drug dealer ‘like a hawk’ when they took him to Horton General Hospital in Banbury for treatment after his arrest on 14 April, 2020.
Since the so-called ‘Mr Big’ had tried to escape before, the pair were briefed by a custody sergeant and even signed an affidavit confirming they understood they ‘must be vigilant at all times’.
Jackson and Lawton, who had 12 years of experience between them, were told that the use of mobile phones or other distractions was prohibited.
Despite the briefing, the officers turned their back on Abubakar and instead scrolled through their phones and watched TV.
Although the suspect was cuffed in the hospital, he is said to have just stood up and walked out while the PCs were distracted.
Abubakar was on the run for 40 days before he decided to hand himself into a police station.
Last year, Oxford Crown Court heard he had laundered almost £250,000, a majority of which was from drug dealing, and he was sentenced to five years and five months.
Jackson and Lawton have since been found guilty of gross misconduct and been given a five-year final written warning.
The misconduct panel, chaired by barrister Harry Ireland, described the officers’ actions in letting Abubakar escape as ‘incompetent’ but ‘unintentional’.
While it accepted the officers were not helped by the custody sergeant’s description of Abubakar as ‘all mouth and no trousers’, the panel said they should have been more vigilant.
As well as ignoring the instruction prohibiting the use of mobile phones, Lawton reportedly received a call from another police officer warning that there was a risk Abubakar might do a runner.
Ireland said: “This should have alerted the officers to an increased risk and thus a change of tactics was required. This did not happen.”
Featured Image Credit: SWNS/Alamy
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