A DISGRACED Oxford police officer once praised for helping save a woman's life has resigned after testing positive for cocaine.

A misconduct hearing at Thames Valley Police's Kidlington headquarters yesterday found Shaun Heyns guilty of gross misconduct and ruled that had he not resigned he would have been dismissed without notice.

During his time with the force the 42-year-old had received two chief constable commendations and two area commander commendations for 'outstanding' police work.

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The former PC, who was based in Oxford, was tested on June 25 last year as part of a request to transfer to Devon and Cornwall Police, put in to be nearer his five-year-old son.

In an interview following the positive result, which Nicholas Wilcox, representing Thames Valley Police, read out in the hearing, Mr Heyns denied taking any illegal drugs since he joined the police force in 2009 and pointed to five previous negative tests.

The Oxford Times:

PC Shaun Heyns in 2011

He did, however, admit taking cocaine when he was younger but claimed to have not used the Class A drug in 13 years.

He told interviewers he 'wouldn't be stupid enough' to take cocaine and then request a transfer when he knew a test was a requirement and that he 'would never' do anything to jeopardise contact with his son.

The ex-PC, who was also a qualified drugs tester for five and a half years, suggested his use of nasal sprays, other medication he had received during a hospital stay in November 2017 or secondary contamination from his police work involving drug users could be behind the positive result.

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Senior toxicologist Richard Poulton, however, told a panel led by legally-qualified chairman William Hansen, that none of these explanations could account for the positive result.

He said 2cm of body hair from Mr Heyns had twice been tested and cocaine and Benzoylecgonine, a by-product of the body breaking down the Class A drug, had been found.

The Oxford Times:

From left, acting sergeant Russell Stevenson and PC Shaun Heyns with area commander commendations in 2012.

He said: “The cocaine was detected however it was lower than the cut-off level. If only it had been detected then it would have been a negative test. The Benzoylecgonine was the significant finding.”

Answering a question from assistant chief constable Nikki Ross, Mr Poulton confirmed the test indicated the cocaine had entered his system anywhere from two weeks to one year before the test.

He explained once a drug is used, though the effects are over within days, the evidence is 'trapped' within hair until it is shed or cut.

He did stress hair testing should not be used on its own to conclude drug taking but as part of wider evidence.

Roy Baker, advocate for Mr Heyns from the Police Federation asked that the former officer's two chief constable commendations and two area commander commendations be taken into consideration.

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Speaking in 2011, when he received a chief constable commendation for helping save a suicidal young woman moments from death, the ex-PC called it 'quite an emotional experience', adding: “But it feels good that we saved her. It reminds you why you joined the force, to help people.”

Mr Hansen concluded as Mr Heyns, who officially left his role on Sunday, had chosen not to attend the hearing and could not be questioned, nor had any alternative expert evidence been offered the panel found him guilty 'on the balance of probabilities'.

He was found to have breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour in respect of Honesty and Integrity and Discreditable Conduct but not of breaching Fitness for Duty.

The Oxford Times:

Mr Hansen said that drug taking by police officers, especially Class A drugs, 'undermined the public's trust' in the police force and added the actions fell below the 'high standard reasonably expected of serving officers'.

In a statement after the hearing, Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell said: “This hearing concluded that PC Heyns did not act with integrity, and had he not resigned, PC Heyns’ discreditable conduct –taking illegal drugs - would have resulted in him being dismissed from the force with immediate effect.”