A CHESHIRE Police sergeant has been dismissed from the force after being convicted of harassment.

Police sergeant Stuart Berry, who was based at Warrington Police Station, was found guilty of harassing his estranged wife at Preston Magistrates Court last month.

The operational manager was convicted of the offence after ‘making unwanted contact through social media and email’.

On Monday, April 19, sergeant Berry was handed community service and a curfew after returning to the same court for sentence.

It comes after he was handed a non-molestation order by Crewe Family Court in October, preventing him from contacting his former partner for a year.

The copper then faced a disciplinary hearing before chief constable Darren Martland at Cheshire Police’s headquarters in Winsford on Thursday, April 22.

And the former Army corporal and UN peacekeeper, who had served with the force for the past 18 years, was found to have committed two counts of gross misconduct.

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Oliver King, representing sergeant Berry, initially applied to have the hearing postponed on the grounds that his client is appealing his conviction.

After this was refused, he told the police boss that the charge was brought about as a result of events between December 2019 and April 2020.

On one occasion, he had emailed his ex-wife having learned through an estate agent that she had taken the marital home off the market after it had been put up for sale following the breakdown of their marriage.

Mr King said that sergeant Berry was ‘courteous and polite’ during this message and ‘stuck to the matter at hand’.

While drunkenly browsing YouTube on another occasion while signed off from work with depression, he came across ‘songs that meant something to him and his wife from happier periods in their marriage’ and sent her with three links to such videos.

His ‘emotional and sentimental’ actions were described as ‘misconceived or ill-judged’.

Mr King told the hearing that his client ‘vigorously denies that his conduct amounted to harassment’, adding: “He feels very strongly about this and he wants to fight for his vocation.

“He contends as a matter of law that this does not amount to criminal harassment.

“People who know sergeant Berry speak of the sort of man he is.

“His conduct hasn’t fallen so low that it amounts to gross misconduct.

“If you conclude that it does then there are other sanctions that can be imposed and you can allow him to continue his job, confident that he is a good police officer.”

Sergeant Berry was also previously investigated on suspicion of engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour against his former spouse, but the Crown Prosecution Service found that he had no case to answer.

Mr King added that dismissal without notice would be ‘catastrophic’ for the officer, and urged the chief constable to impose a final written warning – describing the choice as a ‘stark contrast’.

When asked if he wanted to make any final comments before Mr Martland retired to consider his verdict, he replied: “I’ll be very sorry should I leave the force today after 18 years of loyal service.”

Delivering his conclusion that sergeant Berry be dismissed without notice, the outgoing chief constable Martland said: “I’ve carefully considered the submissions made on sergeant Berry’s behalf.

“However, it is my view that the behaviour of sergeant Berry has fallen so far below the expectation of a serving police officer that the only sanction available on both counts is dismissal without notice.”

Sergeant Berry’s appeal against his criminal conviction will be heard at a later date at Preston Crown Court.

Detective superintendent Chris Warren, head of Cheshire Police’s professional standards department, said after the hearing: “As a serving officer, Stuart Berry held a position of trust and swore an oath in which he promised to abide by the law and the clear guidelines about the standards expected from him.

“Despite the fact that he was well aware of these standards, sadly he chose to ignore them.

“I hope that the outcome of the hearing reassures the public by demonstrating that police officers are not above the law.”

Deputy chief constable Julie Cooke added: “It is essential that the people of Cheshire have both confidence and trust in the service we deliver.

“We actively promote the highest standards of personal and professional behaviour and integrity to all officers and staff.

“Unfortunately, in this case Stuart Berry’s behaviour fell well below the level expected of a serving officer and he grossly undermined the privileged position that his role as a member of Cheshire Police demands and expects.”