Supergrass files: When exercise meant trips to pub with police

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REGULAR visits to pubs and officers’ homes became an established feature of Karl Chapman’s time in custody as adherence to any reasonable standards of police conduct crumbled.

The supergrass – in line with any prisoner held in similar circumstances – was entitled to periods of exercise. But in reality the exercise periods for Chapman simply became synonymous with trips to the pub and other social outings with police officers.

The North Yorkshire Police investigation into Chapman’s treatment in police custody went through all his recorded phone calls and found that at one point he told his mother he was becoming a bit fatigued by the continuous offers of trips out,

A formal operational order allowed for supervised exercise in the open air but expressly prohibited taking him out of Millgarth police station in Leeds for any other reason, unless he was giving evidence in court or locating scenes of crime.

This translated into Chapman being taken to pubs in York, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Halifax as well as venues closer to Leeds.

At the time, Chapman had been moved from prison to Millgarth to give evidence at the trial of criminal accomplice Gary Ford.

One of Chapman’s jailers at Millgarth, Pc Danny Dance, told investigators “... when we did take Chapman out and away from Leeds for these periods of exercise we would on each and every occasion visit public houses where both Chapman and the escorting officers (including myself) consumed alcohol.”

Statements from custody staff given disciplinary waivers also showed Chapman went to a party at Pc Dance’s home and attended another social gathering at the home of Dc Derek Dunham.

Another jailer, Pc Fiona Mosley, recalled being asked by an officer from the Major Crime Unit – who custody staff believed were ultimately responsible for Chapman’s treatment – to go to a pub “out of the way”.

She said “... I drove them first to the Griffin at Gildersome and then to The Sportsman at Morley. The outing overall lasted probably three-and-a-half to four hours. As I recall Chapman and the rest of us were drinking pints of beer.”

The evening finished with an Indian takeaway on Dewsbury Road near Holbeck police station before returning to Millgarth.

The practice of taking Chapman to the pub continued on other occasions he was brought out of prison into police custody, including when he gave evidence in the murder trial of Paul Maxwell and Danny Mansell in February 1998.

Pc Dance recalled: “This was always at Chapman’s request. I never received any specific guidance or instructions on this but I considered it to be part of keeping Chapman ‘happy’ and for him to agree to give his evidence at the trial.”

None of the outings to the pub were ever recorded on Chapman’s custody record and none of the trials in which the supergrass gave evidence were ever made aware of the improper police favours he was enjoying.