Policeman denies theft charges

A POLICEMAN who stole more than £1,000 from a sick pensioner was caught after his colleagues set up a sting, a court heard.Pc David Clarke was called to secure the home of an 89-year-old man in Stowmarket who had been hospitalised following a suspected heart attack.

A POLICEMAN who stole more than £1,000 from a sick pensioner was caught after his colleagues set up a sting, a court heard.

Pc David Clarke was called to secure the home of an 89-year-old man in Stowmarket who had been hospitalised following a suspected heart attack.

Following his visit, £1,100 of the old man's savings was found to be missing.

Clarke, of Barking Road, Needham Market, was then subject to a sting operation and sent to investigate after cash was left in an apparently abandoned car, Norwich Crown Court was told yesterday.


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A team from the Metropolitan Police hid in bushes and filmed as the constable examined the car. After his investigation, the money had disappeared.

Clarke was arrested and, when searched, the cash from the car was found in his warrant card, prosecutor Charles Myatt told the court.

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Clarke denies two charges of theft and maintained in police interview that the money from the sting operation was his own.

During yesterday's hearing, Mr Myatt told the court how 90-year-old bachelor Howard Last had been rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack on November 8 last year and it was feared he may die.

The pensioner, a former NHS worker and charity volunteer who was 89 at the time of the incident, was found on the floor of his home in Bury Street, Stowmarket by a volunteer from the WRVS and subsequently admitted to hospital in Ipswich.

While in hospital he asked a friend to retrieve £1,100 from a biscuit tin in a chest of drawers in his bedroom, which he had been saving up to pay for work to an outbuilding in his back garden.

But when the friend went to the house she couldn't find the money and police were alerted.

While several people had visited Mr Last's home when he was taken ill, Pc Clarke was said to have been the only person to venture upstairs.

He had also received a radio report that the pensioner might not live and was told he had no family.

Mr Myatt said: “Here we have Pc Clarke in this house, hearing information that an 89-year-old man has had a heart attack and it seems likely he is going to die and he has got no next of kin.

“One asks one's self what perhaps went through the mind of Pc Clarke when he hears that information.

“The Crown say what went through his mind is that £1,100 was in the top right hand draw of this man's chest of drawers, if he's dead he won't need it.

“He wouldn't be able to tell anyone it's missing and he's got no next of kin, so nobody will know.”

Mr Myatt also outlined how Clarke's senior officers had decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and subject to him to an integrity test, or “sting”, instead of arresting him.

A squad from the Metropolitan police was drafted in and filmed themselves placing a £20 note and four £10 notes in a Chrysler car, which they parked at Battisford, near Stowmarket on February 16.

They hid nearby and filmed Clarke investigating the car. When he was later arrested, he was found to have £50 in his warrant card, including four £10 notes which had the same serial numbers as the ones which had been planted.

Mr Myatt said there were three explanations for this, firstly that the Bank of England had made a mistake and printed duplicate notes which by coincidence Clarke managed to possess.

He said that, secondly, Clarke could be the victim of a massive conspiracy by his fellow officers, or lastly, Clarke had stolen the money

He asked the jury to dismiss the first two suggestions.

The case continues.

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