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Police officer who stole dead man's bank cards and ID spared prison

PUBLISHED: 17:27 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 19:26 27 August 2019

Oliver Darby arriving at Inner London Crown Court. Picture: UK LAW NEWS

Oliver Darby arriving at Inner London Crown Court. Picture: UK LAW NEWS

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A police officer from Burnham Market who stole a dead man's driving licence and bank card when called to the deceased's home has been spared prison.

Oliver Darby arriving at Inner London Crown Court. Picture: UK LAW NEWSOliver Darby arriving at Inner London Crown Court. Picture: UK LAW NEWS

PC Oliver Levi Darby, 42, was on the Metropolitan Police uniformed response team in the northern part of Westminster Borough and was responsible for securing the deceased man's property.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard today (Tuesday, August 27) the items were found when fellow officers searched his room in the Gilmour Section House, Kennington Lane, Lambeth on January 11, last year.

The search occurred because a WPC accused him of spying on her two days earlier while she was showering, a charge Darby was acquitted of last year.

Also found during the search were three further bank cards he stole from the post sent to two people who formerly resided at a Wimbledon rented home once occupied by Darby.

Police officer Oliver Darby, from Burnham Market. Photo: UK LAW NEWSPolice officer Oliver Darby, from Burnham Market. Photo: UK LAW NEWS

Today Darby was sentenced to a 12-month community order, which includes 200 hours community service and 20 days rehab. He must also pay £1,500 costs.

Darby, a former Royal Engineer Lance Corporal of Docking Road, Burnham Market, denied stealing the three cards but was convicted.

He also pleaded not guilty, but was convicted, of stealing the provisional driving licence and bank card belonging to the estate of Gary Steel, of Randolph Avenue, Maida Vale on January 6, 2017.

Recorder Richard Smith told Darby: "Your crime was carried out while on duty as a police officer, the very antithesis of what is expected of a police officer, let alone during a sudden death call which you are expected to deal with great respect and sensitivity."

Darby who had told the jury he had little recollection of how he came into possession of the stolen property was told by the judge: "You may not have fully come to terms with the responsibility of your offending and I put little weight on your supposed remorse."

But he said he would not be sending Darby to prison due to his personal circumstances.

He said: "You had an unblemished record until this point in your life and the convictions will continue to have consequences for your family and your risk of further offending is low."

Darby's lawyer Heather Oliver told the court: "The offences seem spontaneous, opportunistic with little or no planning.

"He will also be punished by the termination of his career and the isolation from friends and colleagues and the shame and humiliation of the public nature of these verdicts.

"They have been writ large in the press and his local community.

"He has found this whole process extremely traumatic and the stigma of his criminality is a real stigma for this man that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

"He is an Army veteran who served his country for 16 and his community as a police officer for five years.

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"He faces the loss of employment and his income. He lives with his mother and step-father and cares for his mother who in the last 12 months has suffered a heart attack and had a hip replacement."

Oliver Doherty, prosecuting, said: "PC Darby falls to be sentenced on three counts of theft, having been convicted by the jury at trial a few weeks ago.

"The motivation the for offending in this case must have been financial. In the pre-sentence report Mr Darby expresses what is described as remorse for the offences, but there is no explanation given as to why he stole the bank cards.

"You may feel he must have been financially motivated," the prosecutor told the recorder. "The jury heard he had to take out a £6,000 loan at the time and told people at the Wimbledon address he didn't want to stay there due to financial pressures.

"At the time he was taking holidays abroad to Cancun, New York and Copenhagen that you may feel are not consistent with a police constable's pay.

"The most serious offence is the theft of the Barclaycard and provisional driving licence belonging to the estate of Gary Steel.

"PC Darby and the other officer attended Gary Steel's address when people who knew him were concerned for his welfare and they found him at the address.

"There can scarcely be a higher degree of trust put into a police officer, entrusted with going into someone's house.

"He was an opportunistic thief who took that moment to steal the card. I put that to him in cross-examination.

"I do not think it is right to say there was any degree of planning in respect of Gary Steel's card."

Regarding the Wimbledon occupants Mr Doherty added: "The theft of bank cards out of the postal system when one is sharing accommodation with these people is also a breach of trust.

"The reason the police officers searched his room was because there had been an allegation of voyeurism by another police officer at that location and he was found not guilty after a trial last year."

Mr Doherty told the jury during the trial: "The reason why Mr Darby wanted these cards isn't entirely clear, but at the time he was having some financial difficulties.

"He had cause to tell other people he had financial difficulties, but it is not the prosecution case he ever used the cards even though one was used to pay a Cyprus-based internet dating site."

During the search a Halifax Visa and MasterCard, still attached to the original letters, were found in a shoe box and a Barclays Visa card was found on a shelf.

The late Mr Steel's Barclaycard and licence was found in a red bag by Darby's bed.

He was one of two officers who attended the deceased man's home where property was officially listed.

"There was no recording of the licence or bank card later found," said Mr Doherty.

"Darby does not dispute the items were in his room, but does deny dishonest possession."

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