We reported last week on the case of a police officer who got banged up for stealing biros. Well, on 6th May 2014 Tanya Brookes a now ex-Chief Inspector in Surrey Police, got sent to prison for some more sophisticated (and higher value) dishonesty.
It seems that Ms Brookes would go to a High Street Shop (such as The White Company in Bicester) and buy ‘luxury items’ at a discount rate. Then she would forge a bank statement to indicate that she had bought the item at full price and go into a different branch to get a refund for the full amount. Apparently she would wear her police ID which no doubt made this process easier.
Other frauds involved buying forged discount vouchers for “products, such as butter” online and using these to buy products at a reduced cost. One (presumably the highest value) involved somehow gaining a £6,000 discount on a luxury holiday for her and her family “by falsely claiming she was a counter-terrorism officer at Gatwick Airport” (it’s not quite clear how this worked).
The total amount defrauded was put at £11,000. It seems that there was a trial where Ms Brookes was convicted of twenty five out of twenty seven offences in March of this year. After this, Ms Brookes pleaded guilty to a further eight.
She was sentenced to 2½ year in prison.
Police Officers in the dock always get whacked, and this one was no exception. If an ‘ordinary’ person committed these offences, the Judge would take out the Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud, turn to page 24 (‘Banking and insurance fraud, and obtaining credit through fraud‘) and put it in the second row and fourth column (multiple frauds that were fraudulent from the outset in the £5,000-£20,000 bracket). Given the starting point is 12 weeks custody after a trial for £12,500, the Judge would probably give a Suspended Sentence.
Ms Brookes was always going to get more than that, and here she got significantly more. The Judge said “The sentence I must pass must make an example of you to others that this kind of behaviour by police officers is thoroughly disapproved of by the courts and by society.
“The tragedy of this case is how you were hitherto of good character, the mother of four children who will suffer inevitably by what I have to do to you.“
An immediate prison sentence is no surprise. This does seem longer than would be expected (I would have thought 12-18 months would have been sufficient) so I imagine that there would be an appeal. I doubt it will get very far as the Courts are not impressed by police officers who go bad, but Ms Brookes has nothing to lose.