Kent Police Officer Framed Ex-girlfriend And Got Her Family Arrested

Published on 7th September 2020 by Kirsty

Filed under Law, News

Last modified 19th October 2020

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The Police officer pinned his victim down, screamed in her face, then bit her on the shoulder.

Abuser, Tristian Smith

Charlotte Clark-Hughes didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she dumped her controlling cop boyfriend Tristian Smith.

The trainee nurse was arrested, as was her stepdad and disabled mum, as a result of his his vengeful attack on the 26-year-old and her family.

The police officer hacked into phones and Facebook accounts to bombard himself with threatening messages from them.

He reported them all to Kent Police for stalking and harassment and even staged fake break-ins at his home by armed masked hitmen and spray painted “die” on the wall.

To back up his twisted story of living in fear, the IT graduate had a panic alarm and CCTV cameras installed.

But Smith wasn’t as clever as he thought – and it was the cameras that eventually exposed his cruel hoax.

Charlotte is now on medication for severe depression and anxiety as she moves on from the turmoil.

As Smith begins four years and nine months behind bars, Charlotte says: “Tristian used to tell me integrity and honesty were a massive part of being in the police. He doesn’t understand the meaning of those words.

“He wanted to take my future away. A lot of people stopped talking to me because of his lies. I had to make a whole new set of friends.”

The messages, revealed in the court case, called him “a dead man”, “fat, worthless and pathetic” and claimed his home was being watched. “The words I saw in those messages terrified me,” says Charlotte.

“I was mortified anyone could think I would threaten to kill someone – and that he knew enough about computers and police protocol to incriminate me.”

But when she met Smith at the University of Kent in January 2014 he appeared to be the “perfect gentleman”.

“We were both in a Facebook freshers group and got chatting. He was lovely, friendly and we started dating months later,” says Charlotte.

Within six months, Smith’s behaviour changed. “We were arguing and he shouted that he wished my family dead. I was upset but hoped it was just a row,” she says.

“He guessed my passwords and started to check my Snapchat and texts regularly, knowing I didn’t like it.”

About that time, Smith joined Kent Police as a volunteer special constable.

“He did 20 hours a week as he saw it as a potential career,” she said. “He talked a lot about what actions constituted crimes. Looking back, it’s sick.”

In December 2015, things escalated. Smith falsely accused her stepfather John Bradshaw of violence against her mum Jane, who has a neuromuscular disease. Two months later he falsely accused Charlotte of cheating and demanded she stopped seeing her friends.

Chief constable of kent police taking the knee, Alan Pughsley

“My self-esteem was so low I did,” she says. “He always put me down. He’d scream, ‘I wish you’d die in a fire’ – then apologise with chocolates.”

She tried to end the relationship in September 2017 when they were back at her family home in Chester.

“He pinned me down, screamed in my face, then bit me on the shoulder and tried to set fire to the dog bed,” she says. “I was terrified. The next day, he bought me flowers.”

Three weeks later, frightened Charlotte dumped him by text – then flew to Spain. “I had to get away,” she says. “He sent 50 voicemails begging me to come back. I ignored them.

“A few weeks later he sent an email declaring his love for me. I replied saying if he contacted me again I would call the police.” A court later heard Smith chillingly told his brother in October 2017 how he wanted to “tear apart” his ex’s family in revenge.

That day, he reported Charlotte’s mum and stepdad – now no longer together – for sending a text threatening to kill him, which he had sent himself.

Charlotte’s stepdad John, 55, was arrested and held for 20 hours. Her 51-year-old mum was held the following day. Charlotte says: “When John was released he was sobbing. They were both broken, mortified.

“Mum had her nurse and her meds while questioned but two days later she had a flare-up due to the stress and was admitted to hospital for 10 days as she was struggling to breathe.”

It would later emerge one of their phones was broken while the other was lost in Spain when the texts were sent.

Then the following month Charlotte was arrested for making threats to kill a former flatmate of Smith’s, Natalie Poundall.

“I had a call from Manchester Police telling me to surrender myself at a station,” she says. “I barely knew Natalie. Mum told me the cells were freezing so I put on slipper socks.”

She had to wait for 10 hours at Chester police station before officers from Manchester arrived to question her in the early hours.

“They showed me a file of screenshots. One said ‘Tristian’s dead, you’re next’. It was extreme. He knew his stuff, he used to build computers,” says Charlotte.

She was released pending further investigation after telling police she was working when the messages were sent and not near her phone. “I knew I could prove I didn’t do it,” she said.

Upon release she found emails from Facebook on her laptop warning someone was trying to access her account from an unusual location.

As Smith’s revenge frenzy grew he had also reported serious incidents to Kent Police, including stalking and harassment, and had a panic alarm installed in the home he shared with his parents in Rochester, claiming he felt “intimidated”.

He told police colleagues he’d fought off intruders armed with a knife and baseball bat and installed CCTV. But after Charlotte and her parents proved they couldn’t have sent the messages, police looked at Smith’s CCTV footage for the time of the armed gang attack.

There was no evidence on it.

After Smith was finally arrested, Charlotte says: “The police called me. I was in shock but also felt this huge relief that he had been found out. I couldn’t stop crying.”

Controlling police officers have be known to beat their wives

At Maidstone Crown Court in November, Smith denied six charges of perverting the course of justice, one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one of gaining unauthorised access to a computer with intent to commit an offence.

Charlotte testified from behind a screen. She says: “I didn’t want to give him the gratification of seeing me upset.”

He was found guilty on all counts. Jailing him earlier this month, Judge Martin Huseyin said he was a highly self-centred attention seeker who engaged in a really wicked and vengeful campaign of harassment.

He said: “You were indulging in a fantasy with yourself as the victim. You are a controlling and manipulative individual.”

He said Smith’s behaviour had not only wasted police time but also terrorised his own family into fearing their son was in danger and their home was under siege.

Smith was also given a life restraining order banning him from contacting Charlotte or Natalie Poundall. Charlotte says: “It was the most traumatising thing that has ever happened to me.

“I have never committed a crime and should not know what it is like to be in a cell. Yet because of Tristian I sat there feeling isolated, scared and dehumanised.

“The fact he would try to destroy my reputation by getting me sent to prison is sick.

“The masked men, the amount of times claiming that he had pressed his panic alarm, installing CCTV – it’s ridiculous.

“It is a relief to clear my name and for people to know what he is. Knowing everyone had thought I was capable of those things sickened me. I received a lot of messages of apology after the trial.”

Now with a new partner, Charlotte says: “He is the complete opposite of Tristian. I want other women to be aware that domestic abuse isn’t just physical.”