Lowestoft policeman David Phelps guilty of putting words in mouth of man accused of drugs offence

Police officer David Phelps at Norwich Crown Court for perverting the course of justice. Picture: DE

Police officer David Phelps at Norwich Crown Court for perverting the course of justice. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Archant

A Lowestoft detective has been warned he could face jail after he was convicted of intending to pervert the course of justice.

The Norwich Crown Court jury took less than two hours to find David Phelps, 42, guilty of the offence.

Sentencing was adjourned until June 30 but Judge Anthony Bate warned him: 'You know better than anybody what the consequences will be.'

The court heard that following his conviction he would also face a disciplinary hearing by Suffolk police.

Phelps, a detective with Suffolk Constabulary based in Lowestoft, had denied intending to pervert the course of justice, specifically trying to coach or put words in the mouth of a man arrested in connection with a drugs matter.

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Stephen Mather, prosecuting, said Phelps was caught suggesting to a man he arrested how he could explain the presence of another person's DNA on controlled drugs and account for money seized by police.

The jury had heard how a conversation was secretly recorded and Phelps could be heard appearing to suggest to the suspect he should admit the drugs found at his house were his. The court heard he also appeared to be coming up with theories about how his DNA could have got on the drugs.

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Giving evidence, Phelps denied he coached the man in any way and said: 'I was not there telling him what to say. I was not trying to put words in his mouth.'

He added: 'I have never coached him. I was there trying to see if there was an option to deal with everything in a more swift and appropriate manner.' Phelps said that at the time of the incident he was under a lot of personal stress and facing a huge workload and thought the matter could be fairly and swiftly dealt with by a police caution,

Phelps said in hindsight he had not gone about it in the right way, but said: 'My intention was correct in what I was trying to achieve.'

Asked by his barrister Kevin Baumber if he intended to pervert the course of justice, he replied: 'No, not at all, I had no intention.'

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