A police officer who “degraded and humiliated” three women he knew by posting dozens of explicit images of them online without their knowledge or consent has been sacked for gross misconduct.

PC Dave Lovell, based in Somerset, was described as a “master manipulator” who tricked the women into taking sexual photos of themselves and sending them to him, which he uploaded to Reddit and a photo-sharing website called Imgur, a police misconduct hearing was told.

One of his victims was a vulnerable 17-year-old Avon & Somerset Police recruit, referred to as Miss C.

PC Lovell, an older and more senior officer, had met her on a course and had told a female colleague that he had got involved in the course “to meet young women”, the hearing at force headquarters in Portishead on Wednesday, May 3, was told.

He was dismissed without notice after Chief Constable Sarah Crew, who chaired the hearing, found the gross misconduct allegations proven, including him developing an inappropriate relationship with Miss C.

PC Lovell, who did not attend, admitted the allegations. He was also barred from policing indefinitely.

His actions came to light in May 2021 when one of the victims, Miss A, was told by a friend there were intimate images of her on the internet.

When she confronted the officer, he denied uploading them and lied that his account had been hacked, the hearing was told.

Miss A contacted the force’s professional standards department and investigators also discovered explicit photos posted online by PC Lovell of the two other women.

Barrister George Thomas, representing the force, said thumbnails on the websites linked to albums containing 50 images of Miss A and 47 of Miss B.

He said the “traumatised and devastated” victims stated they could not go through a prosecution but would support the misconduct process.

Mr Thomas said Miss A’s pictures had received 4,000 likes and 60 comments and that she had seen a message saying the person who posted them was going to delete them so they could see the view counts “spiral” before they disappeared.

He said a female colleague described PC Lovell as a “master manipulator”.

Mr Thomas said the officer’s conduct was “both degrading and humiliating” for the three victims.

“Any outcome other than dismissal would be met with disbelief and outrage,” he said.

Avon & Somerset Police Federation chairman Mark Loker, representing PC Lovell, called his actions “abhorrent”.

He told the Chief Constable: “This kind of offending is a deep concern for us in the Police Federation.

“The only mitigation I would bring to your attention is there is genuine remorse from the officer.

“He understands and recognises the harm and damage his offending has caused, not only to Miss A, Miss B and Miss C but also to the public trust in policing.

“There is only one decision that can be made today – dismissal without notice.”

Announcing her decision, Chief Constable Crew said: “PC Lovell met his victims during his role as a police officer and they placed trust in him precisely because he was a police officer.”

She said that the improper relationship with Miss C was a “grave concern” and that even though he knew her age and vulnerabilities, this did not stop him from pursuing a relationship and exchanging explicit photos before abusing her trust by uploading the images to the internet.

“He placed his own gratification and likely that of others over the reputation of his victims and the police service.

“The victims have suffered emotional and psychological trauma.

“They have experienced anger and humiliation. Their accounts of the impact caused are heart-rending.

“The conduct, combined with the female colleague’s statement that PC Lovell [wanted] to meet young women, demonstrates predatory behaviour.

“I have concluded the conduct of PC Lovell has been so serious and so injurious to public confidence in the police service that nothing less than dismissal without notice will suffice.”

A separate allegation that PC Lovell had sex with Miss A while on-duty in a police station boiler room in 2012 or 2013 was also proven.

Head of professional standards Supt Mark Edgington said afterwards: “This has been an extremely distressing case for the three women involved and they’ve shown incredible fortitude and courage in supporting these misconduct proceedings against PC Lovell.

“PC Lovell has exploited and abused the confidence placed in him by the complainants – his behaviour has been nothing short of disgraceful.”

Adam Postans