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Friday, June 19, 2015

Scotland Yard Detective Ryan Coleman-Farrow: Selling Out Sex Crime Victims

     Ryan Coleman-Farrow joined London, England's Metropolitan Police Department (commonly referred to as Scotland Yard) in 2000. As a bright and ambitious officer, he rose to the rank of junior detective, then became a detective constable (DC). Assigned to the Kingston-upon-Thames area in southwest London, DC Coleman-Farrow, as a member of a specialized unit, investigated sexual offenses.

     In late 2005, the detective and his wife were divorced, and less than a year later, Coleman-Farrow was diagnosed with skin cancer. Problems in a police officer's personal life are not supposed to affect his professional duties, but in this officer's case, they did affect his performance as a sex crime investigator.

     In 2010, investigators with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), in addressing numerous citizen complaints that DC Coleman-Farrow had neglected his professional responsibilities and had attempted to cover-up his failings, launched an investigation of the detective. The internal inquiry focused on 32 of DC Coleman-Farrow's cases during the period January 2007 to September 2010.

     Investigators with the IPCC, in reviewing DC Coleman-Farrow's work in the 32 cases involving rape and pedophilia, found that this officer had deliberately sabotaged prosecutable crimes just to lighten his caseload. In several instances, the Scotland Yard detective had falsely informed victims that their cases had been dropped for lack of evidence. Coleman-Farrow had also reported to his supervisors that victims in these cases had withdrawn their criminal complaints. The detective failed to submit crime scene evidence for crime lab analysis, and fabricated forensic reports that indicated negative results.

     When questioned by IPCC investigators, Coleman-Farrow admitted that he had lied to his supervisors and to crime victims. He also confessed to destroying physical evidence, and to fabricating crime lab reports. The author of the IPCC report described Coleman-Farrow as "a rogue officer who deceived his colleagues and concocted evidence to cover his tracks."

     The IPCC findings led to DC Coleman-Farrow's dismissal from Scotland Yard. In May 2012, a month after his firing, the Crown's Prosecution Service charged the former officer with 13 counts of misconduct in public office. According to prosecutor Mark Heywood, the defendant had "wilfully engaged in conduct amounting to an abuse of the public's trust."

     In September 2012, the 30-year-old former sex crime detective pleaded guilty to all 13 counts of public office misconduct. At his sentencing hearing on October 23, 2012, Coleman-Farrow's defense counsel, Robert Atchley, in arguing for leniency before Judge Alistair McCreath, said, "This was not corruption and not even laziness....These failures were due to poor health over part of three years. His [Coleman-Farrow's] major failing is not sharing it [his health problems] with anyone else, and in particular those he worked for." (It seems to me this officer's "major failing" was letting rapists and child abusers off the hook. One of these offenders had raped his 96-year-old mother.)

     Judge MCreath, before handing down his sentence, said this to the defendant: "In all 13 cases you failed to take steps that were appropriate and necessary for a full and proper investigation whether by failing to take statements or to gather exhibits [physical evidence] or to pass material on to other agencies for further investigation or analysis."

     Judge McCreath sentenced Ryan Coleman-Forrow to sixteen months in prison. In my view, the former investigator got off light.    

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