Policeman jailed for plotting raid at upmarket jewellers… using uniforms he had stolen
A policeman was jailed today for plotting an audacious raid at an upmarket jewellers – in which the robbers would wear police uniforms that he had stolen.
Pc Dustin Hunter provided uniforms and a Royal Mail outfit for the raid, unaware that his ‘accomplices’ were undercover officers from his own force.
Hunter was also sentenced for having nearly a kilo of cannabis, which he was caught with when arrested by Metropolitan Police officers last year.
He even boasted of how he had inside knowledge of the jewellery shop because he had helped foil a robbery there as a policeman in 2008.
Ironically he also told how he could spot an undercover police officer and was confident the men he was instructing were genuine robbers.
A judge heard how the 30-year-old, who had served on the force for nine years, had planned to use his experience as a member of Surrey Police’s Intelligence Unit to carry out the robbery.
After instructing the ‘robbers’, he waited at a motorway services hotel on March 20 while the raid was being carried out, only for officers to arrest him.
The raid, at Decorus, in upmarket Oxted, Surrey, never took place.
Sentencing him to seven years in prison today at Harrow Crown Court, Recorder Michael Caplan said: ‘You have shown complete contempt for law and order which you as a police officer had pledged to uphold.
‘You also sought to use techniques and knowledge you learned through the police to advance your criminality and used knowledge used in fighting crime to commit serious crime.
‘Your conduct has also detracted from the excellent work of your fellow officers at Surrey police.’
Hunter suggested a raid on the jewellers to an undercover officer called ‘John’ in January this year.
Simon Edwards, prosecuting, said ‘John’ phoned Hunter in January while he was on bail for drug offences. The pair arranged to meet the next day at the White Horse pub in Parsons Green, west London.
Calling himself ‘J’, Hunter boasted he had successfully been involved in criminality during his time as a serving police officer and was able to offer his services.
Mr Edwards said: ‘Hunter said he had worked in the police intelligence unit for a number of years. He described his experience within the police and said he was knowledgeable of counter-surveillance techniques and how he could put that to use.
‘They also had a conversation about what would be a reasonable cut (for Hunter).
‘Hunter said he had access to police uniforms which he could sell to John for £500 pounds.’
The pair later met again in the same pub and Hunter handed over two police reflective jackets, a special constable’s hat badge and two police hats – all of which he had stolen – for which John paid him the £500.
The undercover officer told Hunter he was paranoid about being set up but ironically Hunter reassured him he could spot an undercover officer ‘a mile off’.
At a further meeting Hunter passed on an account of an earlier robbery at the jewellers.
Hunter, who wanted his role limited to that of lookout, also suggested that Oxted was a good place to rob because at change over time it takes ten minutes for police response to get from Reigate.
He also suggested tying up workers and slashing tyres of any nearby police cars before they struck.
The day before the raid he got cold feet but decided to press on.
On the day itself, the undercover officers called Hunter to confirm they had stolen £300,000 worth of items from Decorus. But within minutes Hunter was arrested.
The court also heard conversations took place during the meetings in which Hunter suggested robbing drug dealers, dealing in controlled drugs, setting up a cannabis factory and stealing the proceeds from an online betting company Mr Edwards told the court.
Hunter also discussed other possible targets, including several criminal families who would be unlikely to report the thefts because of their own backgrounds.
Hunter was caught in a lay-by in Neasden, North-west London, last November with 994 grams of cannabis after he had been under surveillance by colleagues.
Michael Boardman, defending, said it was important to note his client had attempted to ‘withdraw’ just before the raid.
He said: ‘I appreciate he did indeed continue but he did attempt to withdraw. It was only after he was encouraged and persuaded by firstly John and by a little more vigour the undercover officer Nick that he continued.’
Mr Boardman also said Hunter had had a tough childhood in which he had grown up with a disabled younger brother and they were raised by a single-mum after their father walked out.
Mr Recorder Caplan jailed Hunter for five years for encouraging or assisting a planned robbery, two years – to run consecutively – for the cannabis offence, for which he was convicted at a trial on July 16, and six months concurrently for three counts of theft, of the police and Royal Mail uniforms.
He pleaded guilty to all the other matters at Winchester Crown Court, Hampshire, on July 26.
Hunter, of Crawley, West Sussex, waved to relatives in the public gallery as he was taken down.