Former police officer and care worker gets life for attempted murder.

melissaswiftA former police officer and  care worker, who used eye drops and a bleach-based cleaning fluid to poison colleagues at a residential home, has been given a life sentence.

Melissa Swift was handed a minimum term of eight years after a court heard how she also sent an anonymous bloodstained letter to her step-sister, threatening to kill her before cooking and eating her body.

Swift, formerly of Hambletts Road, West Bromwich, pleaded guilty in February last year to three counts of attempted murder. The 25-year-old former police volunteer further admitted two offences of making threats to kill her step-sister and another woman.

opening the facts of the care worker’s offending in July and August 2014, prosecutor Matthew Brook said Swift had placed noxious substances into water jugs and bottles at West Bromwich’s Goldfield Court care home.

Swift’s actions led to at least three of her colleagues being taken ill – one with a suspected stroke – after they consumed what they thought was normal water.

Mr Brook said: “The offences not only represent a severe breach of trust but also the accepted intention to kill three people.”

During the sentencing of Swift, who appeared in court via a videolink to Rampton psychiatric hospital in Nottinghamshire, it emerged that the poisonings were only uncovered after she confessed to a friend and her GP.

Judge Mark Wall QC was told that Swift has since been treated for a depressive disorder at Rampton.

Ordering that the would-be killer should be cared for at Rampton rather than in a prisonwhile she still requires treatment, Judge Wall told Swift: “You took, from your home to your workplace, containers which had noxious liquids in them.

“Your guilty pleas confirm your desire that people should drink those liquids and die as a result.

“The effects of what you did are unmeasurable. What is known is that at the time you were doing this, seven members of staff and 23 residents became unwell. You are surely responsible for much of that illness.”

The judge ruled that there was evidence of planning before the offences, including internet searches related to poisons. Passing a life sentence coupled with a Mental Health Act order, the judge told the defendant: “I am of the view your mental health issues do not extinguish your culpability.”

A previous hearing was told Swift had been a special constable with West Midlands Police until a month prior to her arrest in August 2014.

Commenting on the case, Detective Chief Inspector Michaela Kerr, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Melissa deceived her colleagues and hatched a plan to cause ill to those she worked with as a result of some malice, for which we have never truly discovered the cause.

“She not only thought out a way of poisoning her work mates but also followed the plan through and administered bleach to their drinks, leaving them in the usual staff fridge where she knew they would go.

“Today’s sentence reflects the severity of her actions. Thankfully no one was seriously injured as a result of what she did, but the story could so easily have been different.”

“Face of the Force” Top Cop Sacked For Fraud

Chief inspector John Buttress appeared in an advert for the police in 2005. Ten years later he was sacked for fraud
Chief inspector John Buttress appeared in an advert for the police in 2005. Ten years later he was sacked for fraud

A senior police officer accused of mortgage fraud, once the face of the force, has been sacked.

Chief Inspector John Buttress, 48, was dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’ following a week-long disciplinary hearing.

He was accused of failing to tell his mortgage provider that he was using part of his north Wales farmhouse for holiday lets.

The officer was charged with mortgage fraud but a jury took just 20 minutes to clear him following a trial in January.

But he remained the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings which has now concluded he was guilty of ‘gross misconduct’. He was dismissed from his ?55,000-a-year post with immediate effect.

While the jurors in his trial had to ask whether he was guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, the panel of two senior police officers and a lay member decided he was guilty ‘on the balance of probabilities’.

The former officer is considering an appeal.

Speaking outside GMP’s headquarters in Newton Heath moments after learning the ruling, Mr Buttress said: “I’m absolutely flabbergasted. It’s just utterly ridiculous.”

He continued: “I absolutely deny any suggestion of dishonesty and always have done. There isn’t even a motive for me to have done the things I have done. It’s clearly ridiculous.”

He said he had ‘never clocked a sub-clause which is in the 80-page booklet accompanying the mortgage details’ which required him to tell his loan provider part of the farmhouse was being let to holiday-makers.

After his arrest, he said he notified his provider and they charged him ?75 administration fee before allowing the holiday letting to continue.

He said his main residence was the ?650,000 Overton Vale Farm near Wrexham although he also stayed in Manchester during the week for work.

The former officer claimed the investigation into him was prompted by a series of complaints he had made against the force alleging ‘bullying, nepotism, cronyism among the upper echelons’ of the police’.

“I was a whistleblower,” he said.

GMP has asked Kent Police to investigate the allegations.

The force said the officer had ‘fallen below the accepted standards in relation to honesty and integrity’.

John Buttress was sacked because he had ‘fallen below standards of honesty and integrity’, say police bosses.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: “The public rightly expect the highest professional standards from their police officers and these expectations are higher when they are senior officers. When we join policing we are aware of the responsibilities that come with the uniform.

“Chief Inspector Buttress has fallen below the accepted standards in relation to honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct in that he applied for a specific mortgage relating to a domestic dwelling when he was in fact renting out the farm house as a holiday rental. He also applied for two lots of single person’s discount from the council for council tax for the same period on two different properties when aware that he was only entitled to one.

“When such allegations emerge it is important that an investigation takes place and that was what was carried out. The decision of the hearing demonstrates that we will take action to ensure standards are adhered to and we maintain confidence in policing.

“The code of ethics clearly sets out the principles and standards of behaviour that are required for everyone who works in policing. We believed Ch Insp Buttress had a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to breaching those standards which is why this was pursued. In the interest of transparency we felt that the evidence should be considered by an independent panel.

“This is the end of a process that began when the Crown Prosecution Service felt there was sufficient to take a criminal prosecution forward. Ch Insp Buttress may have been acquitted in a crown court where the burden of proof is beyond all reasonable doubt, the burden of proof for breaching the standards of professional behaviour is based on the lower threshold of a balance of probabilities.

“He has been dismissed from Greater Manchester Police with immediate effect.”

Police officer couldn’t control sexual urges

Christopher Hopkins
Christopher Hopkins

A police constable was “unable to contain his urges” as he committed a string of sexual assaults while on duty, a court has heard.

Christopher Hopkins, 41, is said to have targeted his three alleged victims between 2006 and 2013 – an under-age girl, a 17-year-old girl and a work colleague at Merseyside Police.

The married father also allegedly arranged over the internet to meet a man for sexual activity when he should have been on mobile police patrol.

opening the prosecution case at Preston Crown Court, Richard Haworth told jurors: “The Crown’s case, in a nutshell, is that he was unable to contain his sexual urges and all of these alleged offences were committed to satisfy his predatory sexual nature.

“As an overall view, the audacity and impertinence of some of the sexual advances beggars belief at times. But such an approach is a common feature of his offending.”

The first complainant was aged between 13 and 15 when Hopkins visited her home address after she had been reported missing.

While alone together in the kitchen Hopkins commented she looked old for her age and effectively “gave her the once over” as he looked her up and down, said the prosecutor.

Mr Haworth said the complainant felt “intimidated” when Hopkins asked her for a kiss.

She went to give him a kiss on the cheek but the defendant turned and kissed her on the lips, the court heard.

The teenager went on to have further dealings with the complainant and arrested her on one occasion.

Mr Haworth said that while en route to the police station the defendant remarked to a fellow officer: “How long do you think it will before she is pregnant?”

The prosecutor went on: “He had possession of her mobile phone and he was looking through the content.

“He found pictures stored on her phone which depicted her wearing only her underwear and, the prosecution say, he showed them to his colleague in due course.”

On another occasion, Hopkins approached the complainant in public while in uniform and said to her: “You know what you need, don’t you? A f*** buddy.”

Hopkins, of Whickham Close, Widnes, Cheshire, denies five counts of sexual assault, one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of misconduct in a public office.

Met cop found guilty of shield attack

Pc Andrew Ott
Pc Andrew Ott

A policeman has been found guilty of knocking a man’s tooth out with his riot shield during the 2010 student protests.

Royal Holloway student William Horner tried to break free from a kettled area on Parliament Square, in Westminster, London, when Andrew Ott struck out with his shield, knocking the student’s tooth out.

Pc Ott, 36, was found guilty of one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but cleared of perverting the course of justice, London’s Southwark Crown Court said.

Pc Calvin Lindsay and Pc Thomas Barnes were both cleared of perverting the course of justice, the court said.

Jurors heard that Ott was taped on his personal recording device threatening violence towards the crowds that had gathered near the Houses of Parliament.

He talked about “getting” the protesters.

The jury heard the assault happened after Ott chased Mr Horner as he tried to scale a fence.

Giving evidence, Ott said: “I believed he had done something wrong or was about to do something – I wanted to contain him.

“I bring my shield around – I believe it was on my left arm – and momentum, and also the fact that I bring my shield around my body, I collided with him.

“I struck him with the shield, yes. At that moment in time my threat assessment was high. He was a threat to me – I dealt with it as I saw fit.”

He added: “I struck his upper body. If his head got hit, then it got hit – I didn’t aim for his head. To get a chipped tooth from a shield like that – unlucky.”

Jurors heard the incident was captured on the audio device Ott had on his uniform.

In one clip he was heard saying: “Poked the little c*** right in the eye.”

The violent protests saw riot police pelted with missiles, including rocks and concrete blocks, and statues in Parliament Square were daubed with graffiti.

No further action was taken against Mr Horner.

Ott, of Rochester, Kent, will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court at 9.30am tomorrow

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission found all three officers have a case to answer for gross misconduct and they will now face disciplinary hearings, which will be carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service.

Shield-Smash Cop says his alleged victim was “unlucky”

Pc Andrew Ott
Pc Andrew Ott

A policeman who allegedly smashed a man’s tooth out with his riot shield during the 2010 student protests said that it was “unlucky” he had been caught in the mouth.

Pc Andrew Ott, 36, was taped on his personal recording device threatening violence towards the crowds that had gathered near the Houses of Parliament.

It is alleged that when Royal Holloway student William Horner tried to break free from a kettled area on Parliament Square, Ott struck out with his shield, knocking out the student’s tooth.

He is also accused of conspiring with two colleagues to come up with a reason to falsely arrest the student after he was injured.

Recordings captured on the day showed that on a number of occasions Ott had talked about “getting” protesters.

Giving evidence at London’s Southwark Crown Court, he said that after a short break at around 8pm he heard another officer shout out, saying “stop”.

“The shout alerted me and I knew straight away from the tone and pitch, I knew something had happened or was about to happen. I was immediately alerted, I turned to my right and I saw someone running,” said Ott.

Jurors heard that he gave chase, eventually catching up with Mr Horner where he was trying to scale a fence.

Ott continued: “I believed he had done something or was about to do something – I wanted to contain him. I had full knowledge of what I could and couldn’t do and I wasn’t about to start attacking him.

“I bring my shield around – I believe it was on my left arm – and momentum, and also the fact that I bring my shield around my body, I collided with him.”

Jurors heard that Ott used the riot equipment to “create distance” between himself and Mr Horner.

“I struck him with the shield, yes. At that moment in time my threat assessment was high. He was a threat to me – I dealt with it as I saw fit.

“Hindsight is fantastic, would I have done something different? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be here. But I did what I did,” Ott told the court.

He continued: “I struck his upper body. If his head got hit, then it got hit – I didn’t aim for his head. To get a chipped tooth from a shield like that – unlucky.”

The incident was captured on the audio recording device that Ott had on his uniform, as were the clashes that took place earlier in the day.

Jurors heard one clip in which Ott was heard saying: “Poked the little c*** right in the eye”.

He admitted that he had also struck out with his shield on this instance, but added that he had “over-exaggerated” in his description of the incident.

When asked if he had poked the protester in the eye, he replied: “Probably, by accident.”

Ott denies one count of occasioning actual bodily harm, and one count of perverting the course of justice.

Pc Calvin Lindsay and Pc Thomas Barnes, both 31, also stand accused of the second offence.

It is said that after the alleged assault they came up with a reason to arrest Mr Horner and justify the attack.

Ott explained that on December 9, officers were under “intense attack” from the crowds that had gathered to protest against the increase in tuition fees, and described one particular protester as a “nightmare”.

The violent protests saw riot police pelted with missiles including rocks and concrete blocks, and statues in Parliament Square being daubed with graffiti.

Although questioned by police, no further action was taken against Mr Horner in connection with the incident.

Ott, of Rochester, Kent, denies one charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a further charge of perverting the course of justice.

Lindsay, of Leytonstone, east London, and Barnes, of Greenhithe, Kent, both deny perverting the course of justice.

All three men are on restricted duties pending the outcome of proceedings. The trial continues.

Jury sworn in former cop £113,000 theft trial

Paul Greaves
Paul Greaves

 

A jury has been sworn in to try a retired police officer accused of stealing £113,000 from his former force’s headquarters.

Paul Andrew Greaves, 56, was charged with stealing cash from Warwickshire Police in May 2013 after an inquiry into the disappearance of money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Greaves, from Carlton, Nottingham, denies a single count of theft alleged to have been committed between June 2009 and September 2011.

The Crown is expected to open its case against Greaves to a jury at Birmingham Crown Court next week.

Former top cop jailed for harassment

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A former high ranking and highly decorated police chief has been jailed for 12 months for a campaign of harassment against two women.

Former Detective Chief Superintendant Colin Andrews, 58, showed no emotion as he was led from the dock at Manchester Crown Court.

Andrews, who led a series of high profile investigations for Humberside Police, was found guilty at a trial of aggravated stalking, witness intimidation, common assault and harassment.

The judge, Mrs Justice Patterson, told Andrews: “You thought that not only you were above the law but you could manipulate the course of justice to your own ends.”

She said his actions to try and stop one woman’s attempts to report his behaviour were a deliberate attempt to intimidate her “that was as arrogant as it was ill-judged”.

The judge said Andrews’s behaviour had affected both women’s lives. Referring to one, she said: “The quality of her life has been seriously affected by your bullying and inappropriate conduct.”

Considering the impact on the other woman, the judge said: “She feels she will always be watching over her shoulder and living in fear.”

Andrews, of Brough, East Yorkshire, was found guilty of the offences by a jury in January. But he was cleared of charges of rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and a further charge of common assault.

The assault he was sentenced for today happened when a passer-by, Owen Phillips, tried to intervene in an altercation in the street between Andrews and one of the women, who cannot be named.

The trial heard that Andrews slapped Mr Phillips in the face as he was making a 999 call and called him an “unemployed knob”, despite the fact he was on his way to work.

Mr Phillips, who was praised as a “good Samaritan” by the judge today, managed to make the emergency call and the jury heard the defendant was ranting, calling the woman a “lesbian” and a “slag”.

The jury heard Andrews’s behaviour towards the first woman spanned a year between August 2012 and August 2013 and included bombarding her with hundreds of text messages.

The judge said: “No one could doubt the serious impact of your behaviour on her.”

She told Andrews his behaviour had nearly driven the woman to a breakdown as he refused her pleas to leave her alone, requests repeated by friends and colleagues.

The judge said Andrews also bombarded the other woman with unwanted messages – including 37 calls in one day and 111 text messages. She rejected Andrews’s claims that he was “smothering her with attention”.

Andrews stood in the dock to listen to the judge’s final remarks dressed in a light grey suit, white shirt and grey tie.

The judge told him he had made a success of his life after a very difficult start, being brought up in an orphanage.

She said that after his retirement as a high ranking police officer he had secured a high-level civilian role with Humberside Police as a crime and justice manager.

The judge said: “At the moment of your life you should have been enjoying the fruits of your endeavours, all of these endeavours you, and you alone, have thrown away.”

Andrews was in charge of a number of high profile investigations for Humberside Police in a 36-year career, including the inquiry into the mysterious death of Army cadet Stephen Hilder in a parachuting incident in 2003.

He also led the long-running investigation into the murder of Keith Slater who was stabbed to death in Hessle, near Hull, in 1988.

Mitigating today, Tania Griffiths QC, defending, said: “This man has saved many lives. Not everyone can say that. He’s put his own life on the line in order to do that.”

Ms Griffiths said he was once commended for tackling an armed gunman.

“He didn’t need to do that,” the barrister said. “Why did he do it? Because he’s a brave man.”

Ms Griffiths said her client had saved lives on the Humber Bridge due to his negotiating skills.

But many women watching from the public gallery shook their heads when the barrister told the judge: “There’s givers and there’s takers in life and Mr Andrews is a giver.”

Ms Griffiths asked the judge to spare Mr Andrews jail saying there was “just no way” he would ever be before a court again in his life.

She said prison would “break him”, especially due to his police background.

Earlier, prosecutor Owen Edwards said Andrews used his high police office to intimidate the women.

Mr Edwards said Andrews “used that position to add to the distress and concern caused to both complainants by the acts of harassment and stalking.

“In both cases he was to imply and, indeed, expressly say that they would never be believed, that he had the power to prevent an effective investigation taking place and that he had knowledge that would allow him to ensure that should any complaints be made they would never be believed. ”

The prosecutor summarised impact statements from both women.

One said she had been left “emotional and tearful, particularly at work, and unable to deal with conflict”.

She said she “struggled to understand how Mr Andrews could have behaved in the way he did and continue to hold such a senior position within the police force and thereafter, and not show signs at work.”

Mr Edwards said the woman felt Andrews really did have the power he suggested he did to the extent that she wrongly believed her home was bugged.

The other woman said she believed Andrews was “motivated by a need to control and to bully” – “effectively having his way, no matter what.”

The judge imposed five year restraining orders on Andrews in respect of each of the women. But she rejected an application from Mr Edwards that the defendant should pay the £122,000 cost of the prosecution.

Andrews’s solicitor Damian Kelly issued a statement after the hearing which said: “Mr Andrews accepts the verdicts of the jury.”

It stressed the not guilty verdicts brought in by the jury and added: “In relation to the other allegations which he has been found guilty, he wishes to place on record his sincere apology to those complainants affected.

“Mr Andrews now realises, in hindsight, that his actions were inappropriate and misguided. He regrets that, despite his previously unblemished police career, he made wrong decisions.”

The former detective criticised what he said was a £1 million investigation into the rape allegation, of which he was acquitted.

Cop faces multiple sexual misconduct charges

PC Adam Rushton
PC Adam Rushton

A Staffordshire Police officer is set to face trial over multiple sex-related misconduct charges after denying the offences in court.

Adam Rushton is facing 10 counts of misconduct in a public office and two charges of obtaining the personal data of two women without proper permission while on duty as a serving constable with the force.

Rushton, 37, sat composed in the dock throughout the brief hearing at Birmingham Crown Court, wearing a suit, striped tie and black-rimmed glasses.

He entered not guilty pleas to each charge on the indictment as they were put to him.

The offences are all alleged to have happened between June 2006 and October 2012, and they relate to seven different women.

He is facing six allegations that he had sex with women while he was supposed to be working, and a further two accusations that he carried out social visits to women with whom he was having a relationship, also while on duty.

Rushton, of Hilltop Avenue, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, is also accused of grooming a vulnerable woman for sexual contact, and further charged with going to another woman’s address with the intention of having sex, both while at work.

The charges follow an investigation by Staffordshire Police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Judge Roderick Henderson told him his trial was set to take place next March, and bailed him to that date.

Addressing the defendant, he said: “Your trial will probably take place on March 16 2015.

“Whatever the date of your trial, it will be your job to stay in touch with your lawyers and ensure you turn up in good time.”

The judge made an order in court banning the identification of the women named in the indictment.

Police Pair Face Court Over Racial Assault Charge

bedspolice

Two police officers are to appear in court following allegations of assault on a man earlier this year, the police watchdog said.

The officers from Bedfordshire Police have been summonsed in connection with an alleged assault on Faruk Ali in Luton in February, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

Christopher Thomas, 33, from Welwyn Garden City, has been summonsed in relation to charges of racially aggravated assault, assault, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

Christopher Pitts, 39, from Bedford, has been summonsed in relation to charges of perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

They will appear at Aylesbury Magistrates Court on September 1.

The IPCC has been supervising an investigation by Leicestershire Police, which is continuing.

Under their noses? 52kg of Cocaine Nicked From Police HQ!

cocaine

A French police officer is facing preliminary charges relating to the disappearance of 116lb (52.6kg) of cocaine from Paris police headquarters’ evidence room.

Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said the unidentified anti-narcotics officer faces charges including transport, possession and sale of narcotics and covering up a drug ring.

The cocaine has not been found. It had been held in a locked room at the Paris police headquarters, close to Notre Dame Cathedral, and was reported missing on July 31.

The suspect has denied the charges, according to French press reports. They said the cocaine has an estimated street value of 2 million euros (£1.6 million).