December 13 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 26, 2013
A former Norfolk police officer with almost 20 years service was found hanged at his home on the day he was due to be charged with a series of sexual offences, it has emerged.
Gareth Gricks had been dismissed from the force for “gross misconduct” after being arrested on suspicion of a total of nine serious sexual offences.
Gricks, an investigator in the custody investigation unit at King’s Lynn Police Investigation Centre, was due answer police bail on August 6.
He would have been charged with three counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, making indecent images of children and five offences of sexual assault against an adult female.
But inquiries were made when Gricks, who had been a PC for 19 and a half years, based largely in the Lynn area, did not appear at Wymondham Police Investigation Centre.
The 53-year-old was later found hanged in the garage of his home in Dunton, near Fakenham, by a family member.
Gricks, a divorcee with adult children, was suspended from his post on Friday, May 3 after being arrested when he returned from holiday, which is believed to have been in Thailand.
Officers from the force’s professional standards department (PSD) had undertaken an investigation into allegations received in April that he was suspected of being involved in online child sexual abuse offences involving victims from outside the UK, believed to be in South East Asia.
It is believed Gricks was using an online forum to make contact with children, thought to be girls aged under 16.
About 100 images are thought to have been found on his computer, the majority of which were level one or two, the least serious, with some more serious.
He was initially arrested for these offences before being further arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.
He was dismissed from the force for “gross misconduct” by temporary chief constable Simon Bailey at a special case hearing in July.
Temporary assistant chief constable Nick Dean said: “Norfolk Constabulary took immediate action on being notified of the officer’s suspected criminal activity.
“He was arrested and suspended from his post at the earliest opportunity and later dismissed by the chief constable, at a special hearing, before the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.
“Following a thorough investigation by the force professional standards department the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was sufficient evidence to proceed and he would have been formally charged on the day of his death. As a result of his death, there can be no criminal prosecution and the investigation, effectively, ceases.
“However, in recognition of his role and the serious nature of the offences he was due to face, it is right and proper that this information be placed in the public domain not only to demonstrate police action but also to give victims of sexual abuse a voice when this cannot be achieved through judicial process.”
The offences are alleged to have been committed whilst Gricks was off-duty.
There is no evidence to date of any offences committed whilst he was on duty or of any child sex offences committed against victims in the UK.
An inquest into Gricks’ death was opened in Norwich on August 8 with a full inquest to take place at a later date.
Both the criminal and sudden death investigations were referred voluntarily by Norfolk police to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which determined local management was appropriate in both instances.