A decorated police officer who helped front an anti-shoplifting campaign went on a stealing spree in Asda before assaulting a security guard as he tried to leave the store, a court has heard.
Richard Pendlebury, 42, an officer with Greater Manchester Police, was stopped by staff at the Pilsworth Road store in Bury who searched his child’s changing bag to find a woman’s top, dress, shoes and apples.
Pendlebury, a custody sergeant at Bury Police Station, flashed his warrant card to the security man upon being asked to return to the store – telling him he was an off duty police officer as he attempted to pass the bag to his partner, Zoe Wilkinson, 30.
Pendlebury, a serving officer for over 20 years, denies theft and assault on September 19, 2014, and further denies one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between September 18, 2014 and April 9 2015.
He also denies two charges of intending to pervert the course of justice along with Wilkinson, who faces the same two charges between the dates of December 27, 2014 and January 1, 2015.
Opening the case at Preston Crown Court, Mr Richard Haworth said Pendlebury entered the store carrying his child accompanied by his other child on a scooter, behind Wilkinson who went to return a pair of leggings.
CCTV showed the couple looking in the clothing area before Wilkinson held up an item of clothing and placed it in the trolley.
Mr Haworth said Pendlebury was then seen on CCTV selecting a sandwich and giving it to the children.
Mr Haworth said: “Mr Pendlebury was seen to lean down into the trolley for a number of seconds before standing up, now holding an empty sandwich box and a clothes hanger and walked over to a bin and threw the empty items into a bin together with the hanger.”
Jurors were told as they made their way to the tills – the trolley “neatly arranged” with the child’s changing bag and a pink scooter – there was no sign of the items that had previously been placed in it.
After they left, Pendlebury was approached by a security guard holding the empty sandwich box and hanger.
Mr Haworth added: “He asked the defendant to return into the store and needed to speak to him about the items. He put the child down and took hold of his arm and produced his warrant card.”
He added that Pendlebury attempted to pass the changing bag to Wilkinson, then grabbed the security guard before a struggle ensued.
Mr Haworth added: “Mr Pendlebury suggested his partner suffered from depression. Mr Pendlebury sought to persuade the store to take no action, referring to the fact he was a custody sergeant and had been a police officer for a number of years.”
Once inside, the bag revealed £24 worth of clothing goods and apples and a sandwich totalling £1.25.
Pendlebury was to admit the child had eaten the sandwich, adding he was happy to pay for it, before telling staff his partner was on medication and “didn’t know what she was doing”.
The court later heard the couple asked Wilkinson’s hairdresser to cover for them in providing a false statement, claiming she had witnessed the security guard “grabbing” at Wilkinson’s arm.
The woman later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to perverting the course of justice, saying she had been asked to provide a false account when Wilkinson told her her partner’s “job was on the line”.
Jurors were further told Pendlebury had been caught on camera in the custody area at Rochdale police station admitting on the telephone he was going to have to “take a hit” after learning that police had found incriminating text messages on his partner’s phone.
In 2005, Pendlebury was honoured with the Chief Constable’s Commendation for extreme courage and bravery after he was stabbed and sprayed with CS gas as he chased a man.
He later helped publicise an initiative to combat pickpockets and shoplifters in Bury town centre.