A police officer who spied on women using a pet camera and controlled how much time they could spend with their family and friends has been jailed.
Nathan Collings, 34, was ‘driven by misogyny’ after he subjected his partners to a regime of controlling, abusive, and domineering behaviour due to an ‘almost pathological need to control’.
Collings isolated the women from their families and friends, monitored their social media and phone activity, repeatedly accused them of being unfaithful and threatened to kill or harm himself if he didn’t get his own way.
Swansea Crown Court heard Collings, who was dismissed without notice by Gwent Police after an accelerated misconduct hearing, used a tracking app to monitor the movements of one of his partners and spied on her at home using a pet camera.
The father-of-three was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. He will serve up to half that sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
Police officer Nathan Collings, 34, has today been jailed after he subjected his partners to a regime of controlling, abusive, and domineering behaviour
Nathan Collings, of Diamond Jubilee Terrace, Abertillery, had previously pleaded guilty to six counts of engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour, threatening to disclose private sexual photographs or films, and stalking when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has no previous convictions.
A judge said though Collings was a trained police officer who presented the image of a family man to the outside world the reality was he was an ‘unpleasant man with an almost pathological need to control’.
Jim Davis, prosecuting, said in 2020 the defendant was a serving police officer with Gwent Police and a married man with children when he embarked on a new relationship with a younger woman.
He said the relationship quickly developed into a controlling and coercive one, with Collings objecting whenever his new partner wanted to see family and friends, and insisting on accompany her if she wanted to go out.
Collings also constantly checked the woman’s phone to see who she had been in contact with, pressurised her into removing her social media profiles, and pressurised her into not wearing makeup accusing her of wanting to attract other men.
The court heard that between June 2020 and October 2021 Collings and his partner exchanged 47,000 messages at a rate of nearly 100 a day.
The woman was ‘constantly trying to placate and reassure Nathan Collings and make him happy’ while the defendant was undermining the woman’s self-confidence and constantly wanting to know where she was and what she was doing.
The defendant would even go to her place of work at lunchtime and insist they have lunch together.
The court heard the defendant would threaten to harm himself if he didn’t get his own way, and also threatened to send private photographs to his partner’s friends, though in fact no such images were ever sent.
The prosecutor said the woman’s colleagues became concerned about the relationship and the obvious effects it was having on her, and after going to their manager the matter was reported to the police.
Collings was questioned about the allegations but denied any wrong-doing. He was suspended from duty pending a full investigation, and was released on bail.
The prosecutor said while on bail Collings embarked on a new relationship with a woman he met on Facebook, and quickly moved into his partner’s house with his children.
The defendant told the woman he was a police officer but said he was currently not working due to childcare commitments.
Mr Davis said the defendant then engaged in the same kind of behaviour with his new partner as he had done with former partner, constantly checking her phone messages and social media activity, cutting her off from family and friends, and ‘relentlessly’ accusing her of being unfaithful.
The father-of-three was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison at Swansea Crown Court (pictured)
The court heard that when they went on a family holiday to Butlins the defendant suggested the couple install tracker apps on their iPhones so they could find each other – following the holiday Collings then used the app to monitor his partner’s movements on a daily basis.
He also used a ‘pet cam’ which had been installed to keep an eye on the partner’s pet dog in order to watch what she was doing when he was out of the property.
The court heard that on one occasion the woman turned the camera off while she was doing a friend’s hair and Collings immediately phoned her to ask her what she was doing and to accuse her and her friend of talking about him.
The prosecutor said shortly after the relationship ended the woman found out she was pregnant, and Collings then began stalking her by monitoring her movements, following her, letting himself into her house when she was out, and checking her messages and social media activity.
He would also sit in a van parked outside her house and watch the property.
The court heard that following the birth of their child the relationship briefly resumed and the ‘controlling and jealous behaviour’ returned.
The matter was reported to the police and Collings was arrested again, and again denied the allegations.
In personal statements read to the court the women described the devastating emotional and psychological impact the defendant’s behaviour had on them.
One of them described him as ‘clever sneaky and manipulative’ and said she thought he would find a way around any restraining order that the court may impose.
Ross McQuillan-Johnson, for Collings, said on the face of it the defendant was a well-liked and respected family man but underneath that he had been struggling to deal with the breakdown of his marriage during the Covid pandemic.
He said the defendant’s insecurities developed into controlling behaviour which he regrets and is remorseful for.
The barrister said the defendant had been proud of his policing career, and the author of the pre-sentence report had concluded that being held on remand in prison has had a ‘salutary effect’ on Collings.
Judge Paul Thomas KC told the defendant that following the end of his marriage he had engaged in ‘disgraceful, damaging and demeaning’ behaviour with two women.
He said though Collings was a trained police officer he was a ‘thoroughly unpleasant man with an almost pathological need to control’, and he said the threats Collings had made to harm himself if he didn’t get his own way had ‘all the hallmarks of a cowardly bully’.
The judge described Collings’ conviction as a ‘substantial fall from grace’ for the now former police officer.
With a 10 per cent discount for his guilty pleas – pleas which were entered on the day of trial – Collings was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
The defendant was also made the subject of restraining orders banning him from contacting his former partners for the next five years.
Collings was dismissed without notice by Gwent Police after an accelerated misconduct hearing. Pictured: Gwent Police headquarters in Cwmbran, south Wales
Speaking after the sentencing Gwent Police deputy chief constable Rachel Williams said: ‘The offences committed by Nathan Collings are both appalling and shocking. We fully recognise the significant impact that these types of crimes have on victims.
‘I would urge anyone who believes they are a victim of these crimes to come forward safe in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and treated with compassion and respect.
‘This case shows that survivors of this type of abuse will be believed when they take that first step to speak out as justice has been served with Collings now facing the consequences of his actions.
‘This behaviour undermines confidence in police officers, most of whom are working tirelessly to make their communities safer and free from crime.
‘The public rightly expects police officers to act within the law and display the highest standards of behaviour, so it is reassuring to know that this individual will never be allowed to return to policing following his dismissal from our service.’
Collings did not appear in person at a misconduct hearing held last month where allegations of gross misconduct were found proven and he was dismissed from Gwent Police. He will be placed on the College of Policing’s barred list.
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