TWO rogue police officers have been found guilty of sabotaging child abuse investigations.

Detective constables Sharon Patterson, 49, and Lee Pollard, 47, forged documents, concealed evidence and lied about investigations out of laziness and "cynical disdain" for victims, the Old Bailey heard.

Patterson was even accused of ditching work to get a manicure and have a four-hour-long lunch at a Chinese restaurant with her married lover Pollard.

When she forged a document to shut down one investigation, Pollard described her as his "deceptive partner in crime" in flirtatious emails, jurors heard.

The pair denied wrong-doing citing administrative chaos at the child abuse unit in north Essex where they both worked.

But prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC said their behaviour went "beyond incompetence" and could not be put down to insufficient manpower or resources.

The couple, who live together in Littlefield Road, Colchester, denied misconduct in a public office each between 2011 and 2014.

Patterson was found guilty of one charge and cleared of a second while Pollard was convicted of two charges of misconduct.

The jury was discharged from considering one more charge against each defendant which will lie on court file.

Judge Nigel Lickley QC adjourned sentencing until May 3.

Busola Johnson, from the CPS, said: “The two officers convicted today showed complete contempt for the positions they held.  

“Through a mixture of dishonesty and laziness, Patterson and Pollard chose not to do their jobs to the standards the public is entitled to expect, and then lied repeatedly to cover up their failings.

“The crimes that they committed had the potential to undermine the trust of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“Patterson and Pollard had a responsibility to protect the public, and they failed in that duty.”

Following today’s verdict Essex Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “Nothing is more important than protecting children.

“Today’s trial has highlighted that between 2011 and 2014 we let a number of victims and their families down.  Those victims had suffered child abuse, one of the most heinous crimes imaginable.

“At the conclusion of these court proceedings, on behalf of the force, I would like to reiterate our apologies to those affected – we are sorry.”

“As soon as we identified concerns we acted swiftly to ensure affected investigations were promptly reviewed and, where possible, perpetrators brought to justice.

“We referred ourselves to the IPCC (now the IOPC), supported those investigations fully, ensuring that where wrongdoing was found, swift and appropriate action was taken.

“My commitment to those affected, and the wider public, is that since this came to light, Essex Police has improved greatly in the way we investigate these complex crimes.

“We are not complacent and we will continue to review how we are doing and strive to improve for victims and their families.

“We will continue to invest in the training and support for our officers and staff the overwhelming majority of whom do a fantastic and difficult job with skill, determination and compassion and bring the very worst and most dangerous offenders in our community to justice.”