THE officer reprimanded for police misconduct in the wake of Gaia Pope’s disappearance failed to task any officers to search for the teenager on the night she went missing, an inquest heard.

Police Constable Sean Mallon was “acting up” as a sergeant based in Wareham on the night 19-year-old Ms Pope went missing from Swanage.

Mr Mallon and PC Jon Kuspert were the only officers covering the Purbecks that evening and neither had training in handling missing persons. At Ms Pope’s inquest on Thursday Mr Mallon denied it being “the blind leading the blind”.

Bournemouth Echo:

READ MORE: Gaia Pope inquest: Reprimanded police officer to give evidence

PC Kuspert, who gave evidence last week, was already searching Swanage ‘on his own’ during Mr Mallon’s shift, which finished at around 11.30pm on November 7, 2017, but Mr Mallon failed to update the missing person log with actions taken and areas searched. He accepted he should have done.

Once the shift finished, he “failed to satisfactorily hand over the missing person investigation to ensure appropriate progress, failed to inform the night shift sergeant based in Poole responsible for policing Swanage overnight that Ms Pope was missing and failed to task Wareham night shift officers with carrying out any attempt to locate Ms Pope”.

Ms Pope was not found until 11 days later, on November 18, 2017, in undergrowth on a clifftop less than a mile from where she went missing.

Mr Mallon was the subject of a Dorset Police misconduct hearing in June 2020, which was held behind closed doors, and given a final written warning - a sanction he unsuccessfully appealed.

Giving evidence at Bournemouth Town Hall, Mr Mallon accepted his failings and said he made “assumptions” the case would be handled.

Mr Mallon accepted there were “missed opportunities” because of the lack of direction during his shift, he didn’t review the case properly and didn’t form a strategy to help locate Ms Pope.

He said he should have asked the Bournemouth inspector if two officers, PC Dugri and PC Parry, could stay on and help with the search after their shift ended at 8pm.

Bournemouth Echo:

Speaking of the Wareham night shift officers who came on at the end of Mr Mallon’s shift, he said: “I should have tasked them to go to Swanage and continue the search for Gaia.

“I assumed if no other jobs came up for them, they would have gone to Swanage and continued the search, I should not have made that assumption.”

Mr Mallon said he should have updated the Poole sergeant about the case.

“I assumed the control room had the matter in hand and they would have tasked the Poole officers,” he said.

“I accept [I should have updated the Poole sergeant]."

Mr Mallon denied not thinking of the case at all during his shift and said he was working on assumptions which he accepted were wrong. He has since retired from the force.

Earlier, PS Simon Colvin, who carried out a 300m search from Ms Pope’s aunt Talia’s address on November 8, told the hearing officers didn’t carry out door-to-door enquiries and instead “looked in gardens”.

He also said he couldn’t remember if he was given a picture of Ms Pope.

The inquest continues.