An off-duty Ellesmere Port police officer who crashed a cop car into the gates at the Cheshire force headquarters in a bid to have a showdown with his bosses was suffering from a mental illness, a court heard.
Kevin Szabo , 40, of Waterfall Road, Prestatyn, was accused of driving a Vauxhall Astra dangerously from Ellesmere Port police station to the Cheshire Police headquarters in Winsford on January 29 last year.
Szabo , who pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving, wept in the dock as Nicholas Walker, defending, read glowing references from his former colleagues, who called him hard-working and a man “with the highest integrity”.
On February 20, Szabo was found not guilty of aggravated vehicle taking, and a charge of damage to property was ordered to lie on file.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Szabo, a former soldier who served in Iraq, had worked for Cheshire Police since 2008 and was based in Ellesmere Port. He went on sick leave in September 2013 suffering from stress and depression.
The court heard Szabo drove to Ellesmere Port police station on the day of the incident and sent a text message to his brother saying: “It’s time to put things right. I promise I’m not going to hurt myself. Just need a chat with the boss.”
Wearing his police uniform, he took a set of keys to a marked police car and drove off despite attempts to stop him.
Robert Dudley, prosecuting, said: “The control room were able to hear him. He said he was going to Winsford to call the chief constable to account for lack of welfare to police officers.
“By now he was being kept under observation by multiple police cars and a police helicopter.”
After finding the gates at the front of police HQ were locked, Szabo drove through another set of gates at the rear of the building and up to the front door. He was arrested in the canteen, shouting: “Let me see the chief.”
Mr Walker said: “In Iraq, he was exposed to horrific incidents that have caused him to suffer with post traumatic stress disorder. The loss of his good name is for him quite unbearable. It is also a loss to the public because of the officer he was.”
He said Szabo’s illness had been misdiagnosed and it was only last summer that he was diagnosed as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
The court was told Szabo had been sacked by Cheshire Police and his marriage has broken down.
The Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, banned Szabo from driving for two years and gave him a 12 month community order with supervision.
He said: “You had until that time led a wholly unblemished life and you have lost so much as a result - you have lost your marriage, you have lost your career and your life is going to be difficult unless and until you can recover your mental strength.”
The court heard Szabo will begin six weeks of intensive treatment for his condition in April.