Police officer denies stealing dead man's belongings

Suffolk police dealt with more than 400 calls overnight on New Year's Eve

Pc Jonathan Waller has been accused of stealing a dead man's personal belongings - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk police officer allegedly stole the personal belongings of a man who had recently died after they had been placed in a station property store, a misconduct hearing has heard. 

Pc Jonathan Waller, 47, is accused of taking a wallet, a bank card, £230 in cash, a passport, and a Samsung mobile phone from Mildenhall police station on August 8, 2020. 

The misconduct hearing heard that Pc Waller's personal phone, which was examined after the allegation was made, matched a similar journey to the Samsung phone on the day in question. 

Pc Waller denies theft and breaching the expected professional standards of behaviour in honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct.

The panel, which is being chaired by John Bassett, heard on Monday how another officer took the belongings from a house for safekeeping following the sudden death of a man on August 7, 2020. 

The Pc then gave the evidence bag, with the man's belongings inside, to Pc Sophie Jones to book into the property store at Mildenhall police station. 

Giving evidence at the hearing remotely, Pc Jones told the panel she had counted out the cash before putting all the items back into the evidence bag and placing it onto a shelf inside the property room at the station. 

Most Read

She said she completed the necessary electronic logging of the items and booked it into the property store. 

However, when contact was made from the man's next of kin to collect the belongings on August 10, 2020, the items could not be located. 

A search was undertaken of the property room, station and lockers by Sgt Pete Maxfield, who also gave evidence at the hearing, and he also made email enquiries regarding the items. 

But the personal items could not be found and at that point, the matter was referred to Suffolk police's professional standards department. 

Analysis of the Samsung mobile phone data revealed it was in Mildenhall on the day in question before travelling in the direction of Elveden on the A11 between 5pm and 5.06pm. It was powered off at 5.10pm. 

The hearing was told that Pc Waller, who was on restrictive duties at the time of the alleged incident, logged off his work station at 4.51pm. 

He lived in Honington at the time, and the route of the Samsung phone matched the journey Pc Waller would take, the panel was told. 

Pc Waller's personal phone was also provided to the professional standards department and when it was analysed, the data revealed it had followed a similar route towards Elveden as the other phone. 

A search was conducted of Pc Waller's address following the allegation but nothing was found.

Earlier in the day of the alleged theft, Pc Waller also searched websites which provided financial support for officers, the hearing was told. 

Giving evidence at the hearing, Pc Waller said he had been to the property store once that day to locate and return property to a different person. 

He said he did not recall seeing the evidence bag containing the deceased man's items in the property store, which he described as "quite chaotic". 

The door to the property store was also often left unlocked, Pc Waller told the panel.

He denied having financial difficulties, and said he was meeting payments for credit cards and bank loans. 

Pc Waller, who joined Suffolk police in 2006 after transferring from Thames Valley Police, told the panel he was very knowledgeable about mobile phones and how they could be analysed by police. 

He said he had been a response officer, worked with the safer neighbourhood teams and with the prison handling unit, and had been based mostly in Mildenhall. 

He told the panel: "I did not steal and have not stolen anything. I have no need to and it is not in my character." 

The misconduct hearing, which is being held at Ipswich Town Football Club and is expected to last three days, continues.