Counter-terrorism officer jailed for 7/7 property scam
Daren Pooley made £93,000 by overcharging for police apartment rentals during 7 July bombing investigation
guardian.co.uk, Monday 22 November 2010 14.40 GMT
Daren Pooley Daren Pooley was jailed for defrauding the Metropolitan police of £93,000. Photograph: Nick Edwards/National Pictures
A counter-terrorism officer has been jailed for defrauding the Metropolitan police out of thousands of pounds in a property scam during the 7 July bombings investigation.
Detective constable Daren Pooley, 41, took the opportunity to make a “quick profit” out of his employers while on a long-term deployment to Leeds following the terrorist attacks on London in 2005.
He was sentenced today to three years’ imprisonment by a judge at London’s Southwark crown court.
His wife Nicola, 38, who was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud following a three-week trial last month, was sentenced to 36 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months.
The conspiracy involved overcharging the Met for apartment rentals during their stay – to an eventual total of £93,000, although the actual loss to the force would have been lower, due to costs such as utility bills, the court heard.
At first, the Met officers sent to Leeds were divided into two teams and stayed in hotels at a cost of around £3,000 a month for each officer, the court heard.
But, to save money, the teams were later moved to apartments.
In May 2006, one team of officers moved into a block of serviced apartments in the Riverside West area of Leeds at a cost of £2,000 per month.
Pooley had by then met his future wife when she was staying in the same hotel and started a relationship with her.
Nicola Pooley’s brother-in-law, Stephen Butler, 59, ran a company called Citizen Group. Butler arranged for a lettings firm to provide four apartments, which were smaller and not fully serviced, in the Clarence Dock area of the city, into which Pooley and his team moved.
The court heard that Citizen Group paid £650 rent a month for each apartment but charged the Met £1,950, with the conspirators pocketing the difference each month. Butler pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at an earlier hearing. He was sentenced today to 12 months in prison.
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC told Daren Pooley: “You were highly regarded in the force and you were in a position of trust. You breached that trust by dishonestly seizing the opportunity to make a lot of money.
“You were very deeply involved in this conspiracy.”
He said he took into account Pooley’s previous good character and the fact that today marks the “sad end” of his 12-year career but added: “This was a prolonged and determined fraud by a trusted police officer against his own police force.
“You have never admitted your part in the offence. You have shown no remorse.”
The court heard Daren Pooley, a father of three, and Nicola Pooley were now separated.
In mitigation Gareth Weetman, representing Daren Pooley, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, said the “tragic end” of a 12-year career which saw him quickly promoted and honoured for bravery marked a “profound and permanent” punishment in itself.
“Today’s events mark the end of all that and the stopping of everything he has worked for,” he said.
“He will never again be able to get back to that career in the police force. He’s back at square one.”
The judge described Nicola Pooley, of Sleaford, Lincolnshire, as being “sandwiched” between Pooley and Butler as the “knowing go-between”.
“The evidence against you at your trial was so strong, so focused and so telling that you simply had no answer to it and you chose not to give evidence,” he said.
He said he took into account the fact she was a mother to young children, her previous good character and health problems, adding: “I am sure you played no part in devising this conspiracy and if you did obtain anything from it, it was very little.”