7/7 policeman jailed for £93,000 Leeds property scam

A SCOTLAND YARD counter-terrorism officer was jailed today after being convicted of defrauding the force out of thousands of pounds in a Leeds property scam during the July 7 bombings investigation.

Detective Constable Daren Pooley, 41, took the opportunity to make a "quick profit" out of the Metropolitan Police while on a long-term deployment to Leeds following the terrorist attacks on London in 2005.

He was sentenced to three years imprisonment at London's Southwark Crown Court.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

His wife Nicola, 38, who was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud following a three-week trial last month, was sentenced to 36 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months.

The conspiracy involved over-charging the Met for apartment rentals during their stay to the tune of 93,000 - although the actual loss to the force would have been lower due to costs such as utility bills, the court heard.

At first, the Met officers sent to Leeds were divided into two teams and put up in hotels at a cost of around 3,000 a month per officer, the court heard.

But, to save money, the teams were later moved to apartments.

In May 2006, one team of officers moved into a block of serviced apartments in the Riverside West area of Leeds at a cost of 2,000 per month.

Pooley had by then met his future wife when she was staying in the same hotel and started a relationship with her.

Mrs Pooley's brother-in-law, Stephen Butler, 59, ran a company called Citizen Group.

Butler arranged for a lettings firm to provide four apartments, which were smaller and not fully serviced, in the Clarence Dock area of the city, into which Pooley and his team moved.

The court heard that Citizen Group charged the Met 1,950 a month for each apartment but paid only 650 in rent, with the conspirators pocketing the difference each month.

Mrs Pooley's brother-in-law, Butler, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at an earlier hearing.

He was sentenced today to 12 months in prison.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC told Daren Pooley: "You were highly regarded in the force and you were in a position of trust.

"You breached that trust by dishonestly seizing the opportunity to make a lot of money in cash.

"You were very deeply involved in this conspiracy."

He said he took into account Pooley's previous good character and the fact that today marks the "sad end" of his 12-year career but added: "This was a prolonged and determined fraud by a trusted police officer against his own police force.

"You have never admitted your part in the offence. You have shown no remorse."

The court heard Daren Pooley, a father of three, and Nicola Pooley were now separated.

In mitigation Gareth Weetman, representing Daren Pooley, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, said the "tragic end" of a 12-year career which saw him quickly promoted and honoured for bravery marked a "profound and permanent" punishment in itself.

"Today's events mark the end of all that and the stopping of everything he has worked for," he said.

"He will never again be able to get back to that career in the police force. He's back at square one."

The judge described Nicola Pooley, of Sleaford, Lincolnshire, as being "sandwiched" between Pooley and Butler as the "knowing go-between".

"The evidence against you at your trial was so strong, so focused and so telling that you simply had no answer to it and you chose not to give evidence," he said.

He said he took into account the fact she was a mother to young children, her previous good character and health problems, adding: "I am sure you played no part in devising this conspiracy and if you did obtain anything from it, it was very little."

Outlining the case against Butler, prosecutor Paul Watson QC told the court he pleaded guilty in May, having initially denied any involvement in the conspiracy when first interviewed by police.

He said the Met Police was kept in the dark as to the nature of the arrangement for the flats and the relationship between Butler and Daren Pooley, and that if the force had known they would never have sanctioned payment.

Butler sourced the flats, signed the tenancy agreements and managed the accountancy side, according to Mr Watson.

When he subsequently confessed to the police following disclosure of incriminating emails, Butler said his actions had been with the "connivance" of Daren Pooley, the court heard.

The judge told Butler: "You were the agent and middleman."

Christopher Milligan, mitigating, earlier said Butler had worked his way up from the shop floor of Morrisons supermarket in Bradford, West Yorkshire, at the age of 16, to become joint deputy managing director in 1989.

But recurrent problems with depression resulted in him resigning from the company, he said.

Butler, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, set up Citizen property management and maintenance company but by the time he met Daren Pooley in 2006, the business was experiencing financial difficulties and it ceased trading in 2009, the court heard.

Describing him as a man of "impeccable" character, Mr Milligan said: "His fall from grace has been a long one."

The prosecution has launched confiscation proceedings against all three defendants after the court heard none of the fraudulently obtained money had been paid back.