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Rogue airport detective confiscated cash and kept it

March 2, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A detective, stationed at one of the world’s biggest airports to prevent international passengers moving unauthorised cash, has been jailed for confiscating large sums of money – and then pocketing it.

Detective Sergeant Michael Harrington stole the cash he confiscated from passengers at London Heathrow Airport, a London court heard.

None of the money has been recovered, the Independent reported.

Harrington, 46, was stationed at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport and the world’s second busiest by international passenger traffic. He pocketed up to GBP 83,000 (AUD 147,000) that had been confiscated by the force’s financial crime team over five years.

Charged with 16 counts of theft in April 2016, Harrington pleaded guilty to all charges.  He was jailed for four years and six months at Southwark Crown Court in central London on Wednesday.

Harrington was responsible for seizing and investigating large sums of cash being transported through Heathrow. He was meant to return money to passengers if no evidence was found linking it to crime. Instead, he regularly kept the cash for himself.

Insignia of London’s Metropolitan Police

Harrington’s crimes came to light when victims contacted police to try and recover money that had been seized from them.

The detective sergeant is said on various occasions to have:

  • Falsely recorded that money had been returned to its owner.
  • Recorded a seized sum as less than the passenger had actually been carrying and then “kept the change” – pocketed the remainder.
  • Denied an interpreter to a traveller who did not speak English – while confiscating the traveller’s legitimate money.
  • Summoned victims to the police station to discuss his fabricated plans to get their money back – telling one victim that he would have to wait up to three years.
  • Paid money back to a victim from his own bank account, when under pressure, and attempted to make the transfer look like it came from an official Metropolitan Police Service bank account.

The Crown Prosecution Service said some victims suffered significant financial hardship through losing their cash.

Harrington was in service with London’s Metropolitan Police Service, which has a proud history, founded in 1829 by Robert Peel under the Metropolitan Police Act. Its officers were nicknamed “bobbies”, the first use of that term for police.

Britain’s police generally have a good reputation, marred occasionally by “bad apples”. Last August, in a separate case in Yorkshire, a former police officer was jailed for a year for his hobby of mounting a high-powered camera on a South Yorkshire Police helicopter and flying around filming people having sex and sunbathing naked.

Written by Peter Needham

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