A PSNI OFFICER who was accused of stealing money from Kesh police station and perverting the course of justice by providing a false statement to a bribery investigation has walked free.
Darren Albert Scott (43) with an address given as PSNI Omagh, was accused of stealing £200 cash on a date between 29 October 2014 and 3 February 2016. It was further alleged on 21 December 2014, he made a false statement with intent to pervert the course of justice in relation to a bribery investigation.
Both charges were denied from the outset.
Prosecution counsel contended PC Scott took the cash from an evidence bag which had been seized during the investigation.
But PC Scott, who has been a serving officer for 16 years, was adamant he had held the cash at home for safe-keeping until the case concluded.
The cash came to be with police after a land surveyor advised he had carried out a valuation for a building contractor in June 2014. When the initial assessment was completed the contractor handed the surveyor a paper bag containing £200 allegedly saying, “Get yourself a drink with that.”
Concerned, the surveyor reported the matter to police, believing this was intended as a bribe to influence his final decision.
PC Scott interviewed the contractor the following October, having being appointed the investigating officer in the case.
The contactor denied any suggestion of bribery, instead claiming his intention was to give the surveyor a map, but mistakenly handed over the bag containing cash.
PC Scott suggested the cash could be donated to a charity of the contractor’s choice, which would be passed by PSNI on his behalf. This was agreed and PC Scott marked the cash as sealed in an evidence bag and held for safe-keeping , before sending a file to the PPS with a recommendation not to prosecute.
But on examination by a prosecution official, it was felt the contractor’s actions could meet the definition of bribery.
Concerns were raised, leading to a search of PC Scott’s locker, where the evidence bag was recovered empty.
The Police Ombudsman’s office became involved and PC Scott was interviewed in February 2016. He confirmed taking the money from police storage and keeping it in his station locker in Kesh.
He pointed out around that time he was transferred to Omagh, where his allocated locker was not secure.
He decided to bring the cash home for safe-keeping, maintaining he fully intended to return it to the station, but simply forgot.
This position was maintained by PC Scott throughout the trial, despite the prosecution arguing his actions were deliberate and he intended to keep the money for himself.
But the jury rejected this and after deliberating for around 90 minutes returned unanimous verdicts of not guilty.
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