Officer in secret relationship with teenager made her delete messages

Gavin Donaldson met the then-17-year-old while investigating claims she had been the victim of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

A police officer who urged a vulnerable young woman to destroy evidence he was having a sexual relationship with her when she was a teenager has been jailed for 14 months.

Gavin Donaldson had previously pled guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice after asking the woman, known as “Anisha”, to delete almost 30,000 messages exchanged between the pair while under investigation by Police Scotland’s anti-corruption unit.

Donaldson, 44, a married father-of-one from Dalkeith, was helping to investigate allegations of domestic abuse and sexual assault brought by the-then 17-year-old when they met.

However, their consensual four-year relationship ended before he called the woman in November 2020 with a demand to delete all contact – including 200 emails – and refuse to hand over her phone to fellow officers.

He quit the force after two years under suspension when the relationship came to light and pled guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice last month.

The fiscal depute said the relationship was “sexual” but did not involve sexual intercourse.

In his ruling at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Sheriff Douglas Keir said Donaldson had “fallen below expected standards and damaged the trust that is placed in the police”.

He added: “When you suspected that Police Scotland were investigating you in relation to that relationship, you repeatedly instructed her to delete all evidence from her phone of all communications you had had with her, suggested to her that she did not hand over her phone to investigating police officers and attempted to influence what she should say to those police officers.

“All of this was done while you were a serving police officer which is a significant aggravating factor.

“The offence committed was a calculated and deliberate attempt by a serving police officer to pervert the course of a police investigation into your behaviour.

“The offence is aggravated by the abuse of the trust placed in you by the vulnerable young woman involved.”

Anisha, who waived her anonymity to address assembled media outside the court, said she would continue to fight for justice for those affected by police grooming.

“For too long, the systems in Scotland have allowed police officers who abuse their position to go unnoticed and the survivors to go unrecognised,” she said.

“It is time for that to change.”

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