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Ex-Norfolk policeman Ben Staff thought he was 'untouchable' - he now faces prison sentence after £1m fraud

PUBLISHED: 07:58 06 December 2016 | UPDATED: 08:24 08 December 2016

Ben Staff leaving Norwich magistrates court in 2008. Photo: Archant.

Ben Staff leaving Norwich magistrates court in 2008. Photo: Archant.

Archant © 2008

Arrogant, unscrupulous and manipulative, Ben Staff thought he was "untouchable" but justice has finally caught up with this disgraced former officer.

Former Norfolk Police officer Ben Staff leaves Norwich Crown Court on charges of fraud, with his wife, Catriona Staff, who was cleared. Photo: ArchantFormer Norfolk Police officer Ben Staff leaves Norwich Crown Court on charges of fraud, with his wife, Catriona Staff, who was cleared. Photo: Archant

Ben Staff’s demise is today complete, having been found guilty of a string of frauds, but his fall from grace has been a long time in the making.

Staff had been an officer with the Metropolitan Police but the former City of Norwich School (CNS) pupil returned to the city in 2001.

He joined Norfolk police after starting a relationship with a woman he had first met while they were pupils at CNS.

But, by 2008, Staff’s policing career was in tatters following a very public doorstep bust-up with three of his girlfriends, including his school sweetheart, with whom he has two children, and now wife Catriona.

Staff threw a bottle of cola over one of his girlfriends before trying to stop officers arresting him.

Ben and Catroina Staff outside King's Lynn Magistrates Court. Picture: Ian BurtBen and Catroina Staff outside King's Lynn Magistrates Court. Picture: Ian Burt

Staff admitted assault, harassment and obstructing a police officer, and was fined £2,215 by Norwich Magistrates’ Court in July 2008.

He resigned from the Norfolk force after admitting the offences but avoided jail and left court hand in hand with his now wife, who vowed to stand by him.

She has stood by him throughout two trials this year in which she was also accused but was cleared.

Mrs Staff has been employed by Norfolk police for more than six years and was previously a travel agent at Thomas Cook.

After quitting the force, Staff set up a number of building ventures.

"Staff was very plausible. He did use his police background as a means for people to trust him."

Detective Inspector Liz Fernandes, ERSOU

While Staff had previous training as an electrician, he lacked experience in the building trade and took risks, King’s Lynn Crown Court heard during his trial.

The court heard how payments relating to Staff’s building and development companies, including Mr Trades and SES East Anglia Ltd, were placed through his personal accounts rather than the business accounts themselves.

He conned associates and creditors into thinking he had no money in his business accounts to pay them but instead was funding his own lifestyle by paying them into personal accounts.

He wrote numerous cheques for thousands of pounds to building suppliers and associates knowing there were no significant funds in the account to cover the payments.

The money he conned from people was spent on new BMW and Audi cars, renovating his home, numerous holidays and even paid for his wedding.

We say...

It will be a relief to the victims of Ben Staff that the law has finally caught up with him.

The former police constable apparently thought he was invincible.

He spent years committing fraud, thinking his former career would put him above suspicion.

The figures involved in this case are eye-watering. Full details suggest the deception amounted to £1m.

Staff’s business practices first came to our attention in 2013 when our reporters looked into what he was up to amid reports firms were chasing him for £70,000 in unpaid bills.

Police have since said that our work helped their investigations.

We are proud that our probes and reporting played a part in the conviction of this individual.

It is only through tireless persistence that justice can be done.

Fraud investigations are, by their nature, complex to untangle and it is tribute to many that this one has resulted in a successful conviction.

It is important that Staff’s crimes are highlighted and we hope that future criminals, thinking the law will never catch up with them, will think twice.

Deputy chief constable Nick Dean had strong words, pledging to robustly investigate allegations of criminal conduct, whatever their background.

We wholeheartedly endorse this and hope to play our part with investigative journalism for years to come.

The investigation into Staff began in 2012 after a complaint was made to police about his business practices.

It was passed onto the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) but gained momentum following an investigation by the EDP in 2013 which found Staff owed thousands to contractors and construction firms in Norfolk after his building projects hit problems.

It prompted further victims to contact police about Staff, who was arrested in February 2014.

But Staff continued to set up new businesses while he was being investigated for fraud.

He set up two companies in September 2015, before his first trial.

One was called Blac Construction and the other called UK Living Solutions.

He resigned as a director from Blac Construction at the start of November before the start of the second trial.

He is still a director of UK Living Solutions, according to Companies House and after his conviction in spring this year he has continued to attract complaints.

This newspaper has spoken to two people since his conviction in March who claim Staff still owes them money for property ventures.

Detective Inspector Liz Fernandes, who led the investigation, said: “I think he thought he was untouchable.

“Staff was very plausible. He did use his police background as a means for people to trust him.

“He was very plausible to bring them in and once he had their money he was very arrogant towards them.

“Using his policing background to build up that trust in the first place which, from a police officer’s point of view, is quite outrageous.

“He was unscrupulous and has no morals.”

•Do you have a story which needs investigating? Email tom.bristow@archant.co.uk or call 01603 772834

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