A former police officer who was caught drink driving after she crashed into a garden wall said she was ‘truly sorry’ for her actions.

Off-duty cop Shantell Woodward, formerly based at Cowley police station and who resigned from the force last month, was found to have been more than twice the drink drive limit after the crash in May.

Having admitted gross misconduct, she told a tribunal this morning that she ‘deeply regretted’ her actions, which went against everything she stood for.

READ MORE: Thames Valley Police misconduct hearings taking place in private

Chief Constable John Campbell heard Ms Woodward, 37, had spent the afternoon of May 21 at a party in Littlemore, where she drank three cans of craft beer and some alcoholic fruit punch.

She took a taxi home to Abingdon with her partner, arriving shortly after 8.15pm. For reasons that were unclear at Monday’s misconduct hearing, she then got behind the wheel of her red Ford Fiesta.

While driving along Peachcroft Road, Abingdon, she crashed into a garden wall and waited by the car for police officers to arrive.

She tested positive for alcohol at the roadside and, when taken to the police station, provided two breath samples. The lowest reading showed she had 83mcgs of alcohol in 100ml of breath – more than twice the legal limit of 35mcgs.

The officer appeared before the Oxford Magistrates’ Court in June, when she pleaded guilty to drink driving. She was fined £600 and banned from driving for a year-and-a-half.

Tony Lees, of Thames Valley Police’s professional standards department, told Monday’s hearing the incident represented a ‘serious breach of the standards of professional behaviour’ and had the potential to bring the force into ‘disrepute’.

Herald Series: The crash happened on Peachcroft Road, Abingdon Picture: GOOGLEThe crash happened on Peachcroft Road, Abingdon Picture: GOOGLE

Apologising for her actions, Ms Woodward said her decision to drive while drunk was ‘extremely out of character’ and went against ‘what I stand for both in my professional and private life’.

She told the tribunal that she had resigned from the police force last month as she believed it was the ‘right thing to do’ but was a decision she had not taken lightly.

Serving as a police officer had been her life, she said. A constable for 12 years, she had spent time on various teams including the protection group, the unit responsible for providing close protection for royals, politicians and other VIPs. She had recently passed her exams for promotion to sergeant.

Ms Woodward asked the chief constable to stop short of imposing a sanction that would result in her being placed on the list of former officers barred from re-joining the police in the future.

She recognised the ‘difficult position’ her actions had put the force in, but asked the chief constable to bear in mind her ‘good character and dedication to Thames Valley Police’.

Herald Series: Chief Constable John Campbell presided over the accelerated misconduct hearing Picture: OM Chief Constable John Campbell presided over the accelerated misconduct hearing Picture: OM

Mr Campbell found her actions amounted to gross misconduct. He did not impose any sanction, noting that Ms Woodward had already resigned and had also been punished in the criminal courts.

However, he added that had Ms Woodward still been on the force he would have had to consider whether her actions were ‘incompatible’ with her serving at Thames Valley Police.

“Drink driving is a serious matter and it is only by sheer luck that no one was harmed,” Mr Campbell said.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward