North East police officer found drunk behind wheel guilty of misconduct in public office

A member of the public found Helen Kane sleeping behind the wheel of a parked police van, unaware she was parked in the middle of the road.

A Northumbria Police officer found drunk and sleeping behind the wheel of a parked police van has been found guilty of misconduct in a public office.

Helen Kane was three times over the legal drink-drive limit when she was found sleeping behind the wheel of the parked vehicle on Waggs Lane, Wickham by a dog walker on November 3, 2021. Inside the vehicle were three police dogs and the engine of the van was still running. The member of public who found the 38-year-old officer also saw a bottle of white wine positioned between her legs.

The officer, from Durham, appeared in Teeside Crown Court last week, where she denied the charge of misconduct in a public office. However, on Friday, she was found guilty by the jury.

Prosecutor Robin Turton recounted how the member of the public had to bang on the window several times to get the officer's attention. In a brief conversation, Kane was unaware she was parked in the middle of the road and the member of the public phoned 999.

When breathalysed at Southwick Police Station in Sunderland, Kane gave a reading of 117 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath -the legal limit being 35 micrograms.

Northumbria Police

In the trial, the officer said she was dealing with personal and professional difficulties at the time of the incident, and accepted she had been drunk on duty. Kane tracked her struggles back to a situation when working at a protest in the Newcastle city centre when a member of the public was bitten by a police dog she said was wrongly attributed to her.

Kane is expected to be sentenced in December.