Two senior policemen from Neath in South Wales are facing jail after being caught stealing in a sting operation at a fake “crime scene” – by their own colleagues.
Det Sgt Stephen Phillips and Det Con Jason Evans were filmed on secret cameras taking cash and biro pens planted in the sting house.
A court heard how Phillips, 45, was caught taking £250 when he was called to a house under criminal investigation – not realising it was a set-up by other police officers.
Evans, 44, was also videoed pocketing two pens while he carried out the investigation using a search warrant at the same time.
The court heard the officers thought they were investigating a burglary, but were set up as part of “trust exercise” by suspicious police chiefs.
A team of officers including Evans and Phillips were sent to the house which was filled with “evidence” including Viagra, bags, mobile phones, watches and £21,647 of cash.
But Phillips and Evans did not realise the property had been fitted with hidden cameras and covert microphones – and the woman posing as a resident was an undercover detective.
The pair – who are suspended by South Wales Police – were warned they faced custody after admitting theft.
Judge Bodfan Jenkins told them: “There can be few examples of a graver breach of trust.
“This is a gross breach of trust in relation to the force and what the public expect from the police.
“It’s not about the cost, it’s about the breach of trust and at first blush it appears to me that this is a custody case.”
The officers, who are based in Neath, were part of a team investigating organised crime.
The pair were investigated by South Wales Police’s corruption unit for theft and misconduct.
Cardiff magistrates court heard how the force decided to carry out an “intelligence led integrity test” on the pair.
They pretended they were asked by Greater Manchester Police to investigate a property allegedly linked to a series of burglaries.
Prosecutor David Roberts said: “Phillips was filmed putting his hand inside a coat pocket and finding £240.
“He removes his hand and leaves the scene – but then returns 20 seconds later when he removes the cash and places it in his pocket.”
Phillips also took £10 from a bedside table. But he did not realise all the notes had been marked with invisible ink and the serial numbers recorded.
Evans was filmed going into the bedroom and taking two pens during the raid in March this year.
The pair then drove up the M5 to meet plain clothes officers from Greater Manchester Police at a service station.
While waiting for the meet Phillips spent £60 of the money on a Monopoly-themed gambling machine.
As they drove back to South Wales they were pulled over by a marked police car and arrested by members of their force’s Professional Standards department.
The court heard Phillips, of Skewen, Neath, claimed he was going to return the money to the woman who lived at the house.
Evans, of Cilfrew, Neath, admitted stealing the pens while he was interviewed under caution.
The pair both pleaded guilty to theft. They were given unconditional bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared.
Phillips and Evans have 26 and 19 years service to their names respectively, and will face misconduct proceedings in due course according to South Wales Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Police officers take a vow to serve the public and uphold the law with fairness, integrity and impartiality. Any who fall short of those standards or who abuse their position, will face disciplinary action, the prospect of criminal prosecution and dismissal.
“As soon as the officers were suspected of acting improperly, an investigation, supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was launched which culminated in the dedicated integrity test and their subsequent arrest and suspension.”
“I want to reassure the public that we take this type of behaviour very seriously and continue to work hard to root out any corrupt officers and staff.”
Two corrupt police officers caught in an internal sting operation stealing cash and cigarettes have been jailed for 20 weeks.
Mark Davis, 31, and 33-year-old Neil Samuels, had each previously admitted a single count of theft of hundreds of Marlboro cigarettes and £10 cash apiece before appearing for sentencing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court today.
Jailing the pair, District Judge David Robinson said their crime was “a gross breach of trust” adding the “impact of such offending on public confidence is high”.
The two serving police officers were caught stealing after they were the focus of a targeted integrity check by their employer West Midlands Police’s counter corruption unit, which was acting on a tip-off.
Both Davis and Samuels had previously pleaded guilty in February to theft of 400 cigarettes with each haul worth a total of £179.80, after they carried out what they believed to be a bona fide house search in July 2013.
Davis, of Clent Road in Oldbury, West Midlands, who has been with the police force six years, and Samuels, of Croft Lane, Wolverhampton, who has been employed for 11 years, have been suspended since the allegations surfaced and are now set to lose their jobs following a professional standards process.
Defence barrister Mark Kelly, offering mitigation for the pair, said Samuels had taken the cash to buy a “peace-offering” for his wife as their relationship had been under strain.
He added Davis had been coping with “a mild-to-severe” depressive illness, added to by “difficulties with his ex-partner which has had a significant impact on him”.
Both men, added Mr Kelly, were simply going to share the cigarettes out “with friends” and had not stolen for financial gain.
He also said any jail term would have a big impact of the men, who both had young families to support.
The operation to snare the two, both employed as response officers covering Sandwell in the West Midlands, was launched after information was handed to their employer in April 2013.
Mr Robinson, in sentencing, set out in detail how the two men were caught out.
He said the officers had been briefed that a male suspect had been arrested by officers from neighbouring Warwickshire Police and they were then sent by their superiors to search that man’s home and seize evidence.
“What you did not know was that you were the subject of a covert monitoring integrity investigation set up to record and observe how you behaved,” said Mr Robinson.
The two did seize property for the mock investigation and returned to the police station, before filling out false reports of what they had collected.
Mr Robinson said: “You intended to mislead Warwickshire Police about what had been seized – you were later stopped and arrested.
“It was a joint offence you executed together.
“In my view it was calculated – that is apparent from the discussion recorded together (in the house); the property you decided to take, and the way you equally divided the property.
“You falsified not only the search records but the witness statement, and you did all this believing that or knowing that if circumstances were as you believed them, this could have impeded a critical investigation with all the consequences that might have had to the individual you believed to be in custody, and of course for justice itself.”
Mr Robinson added: “Both of you have suffered recent events in your life that have caused distress.”
He also accepted Davis and Samuels felt “genuine remorse” for what they themselves had described as a “terrible mistake”.
However, sentencing the pair – as relatives in the public gallery burst into tears – he said: “In my view, these offences are so serious that neither a fine, a community order, or a suspended sentence order can be justified.
“For the offence of theft you will each serve 20 weeks – half in prison, and half on licence.”
A legal restriction barring reporting of Davis’ address was lifted after an application by the Press Association.