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.