A ‘vile’ police detective working in protection for vulnerable children resigned after making ‘appalling’ sexual comments about a colleague’s 15-year-old daughter.

Jonathan Carnell worked in South Yorkshire Police’s Child Sexual Exploitation department when made a series of lewd remarks about the schoolgirl after seeing her photo on her mother’s mobile phone.

A Professional Standards hearing was told Carnell, who resigned from the force after 12 years service, was a serving alongside the child’s mother DC ‘A’ when he said ‘well, she’s nearly legal’ and ‘well, you would, wouldn’t you?’

Carnell later said he made the remarks because he was under stress due to being kicked out of the marital home after his wife discovered he’d been having an affair, the hearing was told.

Det Supt Delphine Waring, South Yorkshire Police’s Head of Professional Standards outlined the case to the force’s Chief Constable Stephen Watson.

Det Supt Waring said Carnell made the remarks in April and May, last year, whilst he and DC ‘A’ worked in the Child Sexual Exploitation based in Star House, Sheffield.

She said he has made inappropriate remarks in the past, which he has passed off as ‘banter’.

She said: ‘DC A was not concerned because they were directed at her.┬áBut, she took particular exception made about her 15-year-old daughter.’

Carnell saw a photograph of the teenager on DC A’s mobile and he was surprised to learn her age as she looked older, he said.

He then added ‘well, she’s nearly legal’ and ‘you would, wouldn’t you?’.

He then asked DC A what her daughter’s Instagram name was. DC A reminded him he was working for the CSE team.

Carnell remarked about the daughter wearing ‘skimpy and sexualised outfits’ in some photos and said ‘she looks 18’.

DC A told him: ‘Hands off she’s too young for you.’

Carnell then said: ‘Just have a look at her daughter, you would though’.

Others in the multi-agency office heard the remarks and were ‘shocked’.

A trainee police officer heard Carnell say he ‘wanted to have sex with DC A’s daughter’ said Det Supt Waring.

They thought he was ‘vile’ and shouldn’t be working in the CSE team, the hearing was told.

Carnell tried to pass it off as humour to ‘wind up’ DC A.

Det Supt Waring told the hearing: ‘He knew she was a child and he does not deny speaking about her in sexual terms. It was objectification of the girl.’

Carnell, who was married with children, resigned from the force before the hearing and was not present, had his statement was read by a Police Federation union rep.

Carnell said his ‘life had imploded’ at the time he made the remarks after his wife had discovered his infidelity in March 2019.

She had kicked him out of their home in Derbyshire and she was not letting him see the children.

He said he was living out of a rucksack, staying with colleagues or in cheap hotels and was suffering from ‘stress and anxiety’ and was not sleeping.

He said he should have taken time off work and gone back to live with his parents in Newcastle, but he made a ‘poor decision’ to keep working.

Chief Constable Watson ruled Carnell’s remarks amounted to ‘gross misconduct’ and he would have been dismissed without notice had he not already resigned from the service.

‘There was deliberate use of sexual language about a child whilst on duty,’ said Chf Con Watson.

He said the ‘appalling behaviour’ was from ‘malign intent’ and not humour and had left DC A ‘shocked and uncomfortable’.