Former Barking and Dagenham police officer who moonlighted as dog walker sentenced for fraud

PUBLISHED: 13:39 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:37 10 January 2020

Former police officer Richard Williams leaves Southwark Crown Court after being given a suspended prison sentence. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Former police officer Richard Williams leaves Southwark Crown Court after being given a suspended prison sentence. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

A former Barking and Dagenham police officer who was found guilty of forging sick notes has been spared prison after he was handed a suspended sentence.

Richard Williams, formerly based in Barking and Dagenham, was deemed unfit to work after he was involved in two car crashes.

However, the 40-year old was convicted of fraud after it was found he was "lightly injured" in the accidents in 2014 and 2015.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court were told he used correction fluid to alter and forge sick notes from his GP in order to remain signed off.

Daniel Higgins, prosecuting, said Williams fraudulently received £58,000 in net wages and £24,500 in pension contributions during an 18-month period.

The total loss to the Metropolitan Police was more than £100,000, though some of this was taken back in tax deductions.

However, it was eventually discovered Williams had earned thousands of pounds as a professional dog walker in the time he fraudulently claimed to be unable to work.

Mr Higgins said: "What the Crown say is this - had the first certificate been discovered in February 2016 there and then, it would have been grounds for immediate dismissal, therefore all wages and pension would have stopped."

The former Pc denied nine counts of fraud by providing false medical certificates between April 24 2015 and November 27 2017, but was convicted of seven counts.

Williams, of Aylesbury Road, Aylesbury, was cleared of one count of fraud.

A further count of fraud and possession of an article for use in fraud were left to lie on file.

Sentencing Williams to a two-year suspended sentence, Judge Christopher Hehir said: "If he had turned up and made the appointments he probably would have got a sick note in any event.

"He could have been paid most if not all of the money he got without resorting to dishonesty."

Robert Morris, defending, said Williams's actions were "risky, thoughtless and stupid".

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He added: "Before his accidents he was a useful officer and now custody stares him in the face.

"His life entered a period of spiralling. Having been an active police officer he was then involved in those two road traffic accidents and suddenly experienced chronic widespread pain, cognitive problems, depression, anxiety and a lack of sleep.

"This wasn't fraudulent from the outset."

Mr Morris added: "He has obviously lost his good name and reputation and that is a significant matter for a man of 40 years of age who was a police officer."

The court heard Williams had been formally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition with unknown causes.

Williams resigned from the force in February 2019 and was investigated by the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards.

Addressing Williams, Judge Hehir said: "You were lightly injured in a road traffic accident in 2015, you thereafter experienced chronic pain and something similar had happened in an earlier accident.

"You enthusiastically diagnosed yourself of fibromyalgia which is simply a medical term for unexplained pain.

"My conclusion is that you did experience some health difficulties following a collision in early 2015 but your difficulties are essentially psychosomatic and it's also my conclusion that you exaggerated them.

"Quite apart of the exaggeration in court it was also eloquently demonstrated that during the indictment period you ran with enthusiasm, and no little energy, a dog walking business."

Judge Heihir described Williams as a "troublesome patient" and added: "The doctor would have been prepared to sign you off as sick and you would have received most if not all of the sick pay you received."

He went on to say that he considered sending Williams to prison, but opted to suspend the sentence as Williams is the sole carer of his teenage son.

Judge Hehir continued: "The frauds were carried out over a lengthy period and there was a huge breach of trust involved.

"Your line manager indicated that he thought he could trust his men, trust people like you to act truthfully and correctly, you've breached his trust, the trust of the Met Police Service and the trust of the public."

Williams will also have to complete a rehabilitation activity requirement of 12 months and appear again at Southwark Crown Court on June 12 for a confiscation hearing.

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