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31st Jul 2023

Police commander who drew up Met’s anti-drug strategy ‘smoked weed every day before work’

Steve Hopkins

His flatmate got so sick of it she moved out after two months

A police commander who drew up the Met’s anti-drug strategy smoked weed every day before breakfast and work, his former flatmate told a misconduct panel.

Julian Bennett is facing three gross misconduct allegations at a tribunal in central London, including using cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms between February 2019 and July 2020. He is also accused of refusing to comply with a lawful order to provide a sample for a drugs test and of lying – claiming medical reasons – about why he could not do so on 21 July 2020.

Bennett, who has previously chaired misconduct hearings and oversaw the dismissal of two officers for drug misuse, could face dismissal if the allegations are proven. He denies all three allegations.

Sheila Gomes, a senior nurse in a London hospital, lived with Bennett and accused him of smoking cannabis as he walked out of the bathroom before breakfast.

Gomes, who paid £640 a month to rent a room in Bennett’s flat, but left after because she became so infuriated by the daily weed smoking she could not even hang out her laundry to dry.

She told the panel that the officer was addicted to cannabis and claimed she watched him act aggressively while he reportedly went through withdrawals.

Bennett would allegedly hide the drugs in his room, but on one occasion he walked out in the morning and left a packet of marijuana on the table.

Exasperated by her flatmate’s alleged substance abuse, Gomes said she took the opportunity to photograph the drugs to send it to her friend, Mario Saraiva.

She said she occupied the room for just two months – between October and December 2019 – after she met the cop through her friend Hugo Pereira, who also lived in the officer’s flat and who allegedly smoked weed with him.

Gomes also claimed Bennett pretended he was a lawyer for years.

Bennett is accused of gross misconduct for smoking cannabis, and taking LSD and magic mushrooms while on a holiday in France.

In light of Gomes’ report, Bennett was hauled in front of his colleagues and lawfully ordered to take a drug test on 21 July 2020.

In response, he said he would resign, and said: “I’m concerned that because of my facial palsy illness, and that having taken CBD cannabidoil as treatment for my face, this may cause my test to be positive.

“I do not wish for that to happen and cause embarrassment for the MPS, as a senior officer.

“I appreciate this is a lawful order and I mean no disrespect.”

Recalling life when she first moved in with the officer, who she then believed was a lawyer, and described as “erratic” and “annoying”, Gomes said: “I will not say they were doing the parties that I was complaining of during my second month of staying there, but there was daily cannabis smoking, which was very annoying to me. Daily, daily.

“Julian was aggressive at a certain point, he was in my opinion withdrawing from the weed.

“The daily smoking cannabis was annoying to me, when I realised they were doing that. From the start that part was already annoying me.

Asked when she saw him smoking, Gomes said: “Before his breakfast, and before he will leave and go to work. I could see sometimes that when I was arriving, it was there.

“I never saw him eat before he went to work. In January 2020 I start investigation (sic), or trying to investigate, who was Julian Bennett, after I left.

“I found his behaviour erratic while I was living with him, so something was wrong. Why do I have to live in a place when (sic) there is cannabis in the air, why do I have to breathe that? I’m just trying to breathe oxygen.

“When I am going to dry my clothes the lounge, when they were smoking daily?”

“I can say, he was the one who was having the cannabis, I would say a few times during the day if he will be at home.”

Gomes claimed Bennett was “very addicted.”

The Met police legal team are relying on a series of photographs allegedly documenting Bennett’s bag of marijuana.

Gomes is said to have sent the photographs to the Met when she reported him.

Summarising the Met’s case against Bennett, Mark Ley-Morgan said he would not have been disciplined if he was really taking CBD products from Holland and Barrett.

He said the case against Bennett was “compelling.”

The hearing continues.