Yorkshire police officer who stole £65 from dead man's wallet is jailed

A generic picture of a police officer
A generic picture of a police officer
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A Yorkshire police officer who stole £65 from a dead man's wallet and tried to cover up the theft has been jailed.

Humberside Police officer Paul Wallace, 47, stole the money after being given the role of liaison officer to the family of Paul Rutter, who had died suddenly in June 2015.

He later tried to cover up the theft by planting £65 in the police property store, amending his pocket notebook and duping another officer to find the money after a complaint was made by the deceased man's partner.

Wallace, of Willowdale, Hull, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing and was sentenced at Grimsby Crown Court earlier today.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, told the court that Wallace attended the sudden accidental death of Mr Rutter in Leconfield, in June 2015 and was assigned as family liaison officer.

He helped other officers search the property and took possession of a number of items, including Mr Rutter's brown wallet, containing £65, which was later logged and placed in the property store at Clough Road police station in a numbered evidence bag.

In the days following Mr Rutter's death, Wallace returned the wallet to his partner, who complained to the police professional standards branch when she found it empty.

The next month, Wallace was informed by email that a complaint had been made and withdrew £50 from a cash machine near the police station within half an hour of reading the message.

He then placed the cash into an evidence bag, marked with the same exhibit number as the wallet, and put the bag into the property store before calling another officer to help him search for the missing money, which was found among other evidence bags and stationery.

Wallace amended his police pocket notebook by adding notes about the money being separated from the wallet.

Mr Sandiford said the defendant's actions had affected Mr Rutter's partner by making her relive the events surrounding his death and had shattered her faith and trust in the police and other people.

The court heard that Wallace had no previous convictions but had received a final written warning in 2010 for breaching police conduct regulations by forging the signature of a witness on a statement.

Sentencing Wallace to 15 months in prison, Judge John Thackray QC told Wallace: "A prison sentence is nearly always required to mark the affront to our justice system when a person has committed the offence of perverting the course of justice. When committed by a police officer, the offence is particularly serious.

"In this case, there was an element of persistence and obvious planning."

Humberside Police said internal misconduct procedures will now take place.

Head of professional standards, Detective Superintendent Matt Baldwin, said: “Honesty and integrity are crucial qualities and vital elements to policing and in serving the public.

“While Wallace admitted his guilt, his deceptive actions have gravely failed to uphold and maintain the high standards both we, and more importantly, the public expect.

“We demand the highest standards of professionalism, honesty and integrity from our officers, and we will not condone, accept or tolerate any actions that fail to meet our expectations.

“Internal misconduct procedures will now follow as criminal proceedings have been completed.

“It is of paramount importance that we hold those to account who fail in their responsibility to serve and protect our communities and who behave in a way that undermines the public’s trust and confidence in us as Humberside Police and in policing.”