Suspended jail sentence for cash-claim policeman

A FORMER police officer was spared an immediate jail sentence yesterday for dishonestly trying to claim £3,500 after reading on a force computer that a cash-filled bag had been handed in by a member of the public.

Sergeant Peter Yeats, who resigned from Sussex Police after he was arrested, rang the force after spotting the entry on an incident log in July.

Using the false name of Kirk Rose, the 32-year-old told officers his wife had dropped the cash the day before on a bridleway.

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But his colleagues became suspicious because the poor state of the money suggested it had lain undiscovered in the open for longer than a day.

Their suspicion was also aroused when they called a landline number they had found for a Kirk Rose, but when he answered he said he had no knowledge of the money. The calls were eventually traced back to Yeats's police-issue mobile phone.

Sentencing him to three months imprisonment, suspended for a year, Recorder Christine Laing QC said: "In my view what you were doing was in a gross breach of trust that the public must put into police officers.

"Clearly, to say this was a complete moment of madness is fairly underestimating the situation."

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Julian Dale, defending Yeats at Lewes Crown Court, told the court that he had been under significant financial pressure after he and his wife had their first child just over a year ago.

Yeats, of St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, was also ordered to carry out 60 hours unpaid work.

The court heard no-one rightfully claimed the cash, so it was given to the member of the public who found it.