A COPPER with ''Britain's cushiest beat'' has been rapped for his handling of the first potential murder there in 40 years - including talking about it in the PUB and suggesting using a WATER DIVINER to find the body.

Sgt Colin Taylor carved out a huge following for his witty social media posts and even had a book published about his life policing the 'crime-free' Scilly Islands.

But he has been heavily criticised in two professional standards reports for failures in his investigation into the death of Josh Clayton.

The body of Mr Clayton, 23, from Taunton, Somerset, was found on rocks near the island of Tresco in September 2015 - 10 days after he went missing.

He had been working as a bar manager and was last seen alive at an end of season party for staff on the privately-owned island.

A wide-scale search was carried out before his body was eventually discovered on the uninhabited island of Trean by a French yachtsman.

He was fully clothed and with his rucksack covering his face.

Josh's mum Tracey Clayton has always believed he was murdered - the first on the isles since 1973 - and criticised police at his inquest for failing to follow up several leads.

And the target of much of her anger has been Sgt Taylor, whose book the Life of a Scilly Sergeant was published in June 2016 - less than a year after Josh's body was found.

She raised concerns over his failure to secure Mr Clayton's room and his use of a water diviner in the search for his body.

A Devon and Cornwall Police investigation has now upheld 15 of mum Tracey Clayton's 22 complaints and partially upheld - or directed "learning" on - two others.

The report identified six learning points for Sgt Taylor - a lower level than misconduct - six for his senior officer Det Insp DebbieJago and four for Devon and Cornwall Police Force.

Mrs Clayton said she felt vindicated that someone "has actually listened" to her concerns.

The probe found Sgt Taylor displayed "poor judgement" in his conversations with the family and some of what he said was "insensitive through its banality."

He was also criticised for talking about the ongoing incident in a pub - described in the report as "just not appropriate."

The report also found Sgt Taylor failed to secure Mr Clayton's room despite it being "fair to expect that all potential evidence should be secured and preserved."

He also "inappropriately" introduced the idea of using a "water diviner" during the initial search for Mr Clayton's body.

The report noted there was "no doubt" Sgt Taylor attempted to put the family at ease but displayed "poor judgement" in some of his conversations with the family.

Senior officer Det Insp Jago also faced criticism in the report for authorising the disposal of Mr Clayton's bloodied t-shirt during the post-mortem examination and "did not consider" seeking permission from his family.

She has since taken early retirement but Sgt Taylor, who started his 20-year career in Exeter, moved back to Devon in 2016 after spending five years on the crime-free island.

In that time he amassed more than 54,000 followers on Facebook thanks to his wry take on life patrolling one of the UK's outposts.

The 52 year-old dad-of-two even wrote a best-selling book and described his memoirs as "Heartbeat but less frenetic" and said his stories were "silly, but true".

They include the time he thought he had uncovered a major drugs smuggler only to discover that kilos of 'cocaine' he'd found were mozzarella.

Other oddball cases include the mystery of the dumped goldfish, hunting for burglars who left fried eggs calling cards, dealing with a stray seal in the high street, and calming drunken chefs rowing over salt.

He also spoke of how he encountered a short-sighted horse vandalising cars and acted as peacemaker in a 50-year-old row over a shed.

Sgt Taylor said his job had also involved hitchhiking across the islands to arrest people and being stopped on his weekly shop by locals with lost property queries.

He says he was even invited by one islander to smoke some cannabis.

Responding to the criticism in the report, he said: "The focus of my efforts, as the sergeant on the Isles of Scilly at that time, in the search for Josh, was to do everything I could to find him alive and as quickly as possible.

"At all times the welfare of the Clayton family was paramount. I would like to say that my thoughts remain very much with the Clayton family for the tragic loss of Josh."

Mr Clayton's death had been treated as a tragic accident but in 2017, the first inquest was halted after new claims of a row at the party came to light.

A second investigation was ordered and a second inquest concluded Mr Clayton's death was accidental and he "may have had a fall" - a conclusion Mrs Clayton describes as "pure speculation".

Dorset Police was subsequently asked to review the case after the first inquest collapsed.

The review identified issues including the "under-resourcing" of the investigation.

It also found two differing scenarios of "tragic accident versus suspicious death were not given equal standing".

Head of crime and criminal justice, Det Ch Supt Steve Parker, said learning from the reports had been shared with the officers involved and the force had "also sought to learn as an organisation".

Mr Parker, who led the second investigation, said no evidence of third-party involvement had been found and he did not believe any of the issues raised by the reports "would have made a significant difference to the outcome of the investigation".

He said the force would apologise to the Clayton family for areas where "we have failed to meet the high levels of service we aspired to in this investigation".

"We have always had in the forefront of our minds that this is a grieving family who have lost a son and I do genuinely hope that this will bring some closure to them," he added.

Mrs Clayton said she wanted Devon and Cornwall Police to compensate her family for the anguish they had suffered.

She said she wanted to recoup some of the £70,000 they have spent on legal fees and private investigation and use any other money to start a charity in her son's name, helping people who found themselves in a similar situation.

"It's not the money but if we didn't have the money everything would have been pushed to one side and we would have had to accept that Josh was a drugged-up drunk," she said.

"What happens if you have no money... it is injustice."