A former police officer who claimed he was in too much pain to work has been jailed for fraud after a covert surveillance team caught him playing sport and an app on his phone showed he was taking 10,000 steps a day.
For more than two years, PC Matthew Littlefair claimed full pay and other benefits while pretending his back was so badly hurt in a minor car crash that he could not even lift a kettle.
The surveillance operation was launched by his force after colleagues became suspicious and he was seen out playing football with his children, walking his dog, running and riding bikes.
When investigators examined his phone they found he had repeatedly been recorded taking 10,000 steps a day.
Jailing 36-year-old Littlefair for two years and three months, Judge Robert Pawson said the case had come “during one of the worst years in recent policing history”.
Ha aggiunto: “This year there has been a police officer dealt with for kidnap, rape and murder … two others this week were dealt with for taking photographs of a dead body and now this case – it’s of a far less offence – but it will affect public confidence in the police service.”
Littlefair, who arrived at Salisbury crown court, Wiltshire, in a wheelchair, admitted fraud by false representation.
Robin Leach, perseguire, said Littlefair had been a police officer since 2008 and while off duty in October 2017, he was involved in a minor collision.
He went to hospital complaining of pain and whiplash and reported that he was sick and unfit for duty.
When Dorset police offered him reduced hours and the chance to work from home, Littlefair refused, complaining his pain was too severe.
He was eventually offered an “ill-health award” in September 2019, which would have allowed him to step away with his status reviewed after five years but he appealed against this, saying he would never be able to work again, and continued to receive full pay.
Leach said: “He complained of lasting injuries, chronic pain in most parts of his body and constant right knee pain so bad his knee could give way on him at any moment.”
While on sick leave he fraudulently claimed about £150,000 in wages, tax contributions and pension costs, la corte ha sentito.
Suspicions were raised, and in April and May 2020 a covert investigation was launched by the force’s counter-corruption unit, supervised by the Independent Office for Polizia Conduct. Surveillance officers caught Littlefair playing energetically with his children at their home.
Leach said: “He was seen on one occasion pushing his children on a rope swing and playing football with them. A health application on his phone showed how many steps he had taken over 36 days … his phone recorded over 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent of five miles a day.”
He attended a Bath rugby game and swung an axe in his back garden. A surveillance team spotted him on several occasions driving to remote locations to walk his dog or go running.
The court heard doctors had diagnosed him with depression and a condition called functional neurological disorder, which is why he now requires a wheelchair.
Littlefair was jailed for two years and three months and a proceeds of crime hearing will deal with repayments of the fraudulently obtained £149,764.
After the sentencing on Wednesday, Dorset police said Littlefair had resigned but would now face disciplinary proceedings.