A policeman has been jailed after he stole a laptop while guarding a dead body and took money from two elderly crime victims he befriended.
Christopher Steven Maynard, a police constable in the West Yorkshire force, also cheated his own mother out of thousands in cash hidden by his father and discovered years after his death.
Maynard, 46, of Celandine Avenue, Salendine Nook, admitted two charges of theft and misconduct in a public office.
Jailing him for a total of 55 months Judge Christopher Batty said: “These are despicable offences and the grossest abuse of your privileged position.”
He said Maynard must have thought no one would find out about “such an incredible offence” of stealing from a corpse.
Conor Quinn, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court that in 2009 Maynard discovered £13,836 in cash in the roof space at his mother’s home which he realised had been put there by his father prior to his death in 2001.
According to his father’s will it should have gone to his mother, although he did pay it into her account because the bank would not let him use his own, he persuaded his mother to transfer it over to him telling her the money was from his divorce settlement.
He used the money together with a bank loan to by a BMW 3 series car.
In January 2010 Maynard was sent to the home of an 83-year-old woman in North Leeds to investigate possible theft by a carer or neighbour.
She had health problems, was forgetful and struggled to even write but he acquired a cheque for £15,000 from her.
That bounced “however instead of providing the defendant with an opportunity to reconsider the appropriateness of accepting such a sum from such a vulnerable lady he sought a replacement,” said Mr Quinn.
On the very day she was admitted to hospital with chest pains, dizziness and nausea another cheque was signed for him. The next day his vulnerable victim told her own GP in her confusion that she thought she had been locked up by police rather than in hospital.
Maynard used the £15,000 to pay off the bank loan on his car and subsequently got another cheque for £2,000 from the elderly victim before she was later admitted to a psychiatric hospital and died in 2013.
By then he had befriended a 76-year-old woman who he met through a suspected crime against her. He would visit her a number of times a week, do her shopping and she believed she loved him.
He invested £9,000 of her money in shares which turned out to be worthless and she also gave him £5,240 in cheques. He had access to her bank card and PIN number and also took £4,500 from it. Some of the money went on paying gambling debts.
The court heard when police searched Maynard’s home on the other allegations they found the stolen laptop. In February 2012 he had taken over guarding the body of a man who had died at home in natural circumstances.
While waiting for the undertaker to arrive he apparently searched the premises and helped himself to the laptop. The next day he changed the user name to his own.
Paul Fleming, representing him, said taking the money from the elderly victims was the “single biggest misjudgment of his life.”
He said Maynard, who joined the police in 2001, could not recall the circumstances of getting the cheques from the first woman and saw the money he received as gifts “however misguided his thought process was.”
He told the court Maynard had been suspended from the force in 2014 and had now been dismissed. “Part of his punishment is not just a loss of reputation, a loss of his job, and the loss of the financial security and stability that should have given him but he has lost the reputation as a role model.”
Jailing Maynard Judge Batty said: “You have abused a position of trust in order to enrich yourself.”
The judge said when he stole the laptop while guarding the body he must have thought no one would find out “such an incredible offence” of stealing from a corpse.
Det Chief Supt Julie Sykes, of West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Department, said: “As a force we expect the very highest standards of officers and the public rightly do too.
“It is very rare for behaviour or conduct to fall below this highest of standards but when it does, it will not be tolerated.
“That is why we have a dedicated Professional Standards Department which thoroughly investigates allegations of wrong doing and where necessary will take the appropriate action.”