A police officer was jailed yesterday for misusing a force computer on behalf of a criminal friend was who a suspect in Britain’s biggest cash robbery.
Pc Eileen Arthurs, 52, carried out improper information checks for convicted crook Lee May, 49, his former partner Michelle Stevenson and “associate” Ian Tucke.
May was once a suspect in the £53million Securitas heist in Tonbridge, Kent in 2006 when several men abducted and threatened the family of the cash depot’s manager.
Two years earlier Arthurs had sold her house to May for £760,000 as she divorced and the two became ‘at least’ friends.
A court heard that she first accessed May’s files on the police’s Genesis computer system in July 2004 and then twice more in 2005.
She was investigated by bosses at Kent police who gave her ‘informal advice’ and ordered her to renew her vetting status.
When asked if she knew anyone who had received a caution or conviction, engaged in criminal activities or associated with such persons, she wrote ‘No’.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that May fell into “at least one and maybe more” of those categories.
Arthurs, a mother-of-two and grandmother, illegally accessed the police national computer again in March last year to check out an Audi car on behalf of May.
He had told police he suspected the vehicle was involved in a threat to his life.
Arthurs lied to colleagues and made false entries in her notebooks to cover her tracks while carrying out the checks.
The court heard she accessed the records for “purely personal and not policing” reasons.
Matthew Jewell, prosecuting, said: “There is no doubt that Pc Arthurs had accessed information in which Mr May would have no doubt have been interested in.
“It is clear that she was anxious to conceal her relationship with Mr May from the police.”
Arthurs, from Bexley, Kent, denied five charges of misconduct in a public office spanning several years but was convicted yesterday (Weds) by a jury.
She was jailed for two and a half years by Judge Martin Joy who said he was satisfied the information she obtained was for May.
He said: “You told lies to other officers, including superiors, perhaps to cover your tracks for your dishonest and criminal behaviour.
“This was an extended course of misconduct carried out over many years. The misuse of the computer relates to major criminals and not mundane matters.
“It is clear that misconduct by police officers such as committed by you seriously undermine the trust in the police service which the public are entitled to.”
Arthurs joined Kent Police in June 2002 about a year after separating from her demolition contractor husband.
The court heard she was “at least” friends with May – having regular and general contact, although she referred to him as a “neighbour”.
Kent Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said: “The vast majority of officers serve with the utmost integrity, honour and pride.
“It is important that those rare few who cross the line are dealt with appropriately and charged if an offence has been committed.”
The Securitas depot robbers abducted and threatened the family of the manager, tied up fourteen staff members and stole £53,116,76 in bank notes.
The court heard that May had been ‘of interest’ to police during their investigation but never faced any charges in relation to the case.