A former undercover drugs officer who was jailed after becoming addicted to heroin is suing the force.

Robert Carroll, 41, has launched a civil case against his former employers blaming his addiction on a police training exercise designed to familiarise police officers with the drug.

The former constable says he and other officers were encouraged to inhale heroin smoke and became high during the exercise.

The exercise is said to have happened at Greater Manchester Police’s Sedgeley Park training complex in 2008 some two years after Carroll first started working as an undercover drugs purchaser.

“I felt ill when I walked out of there. They encouraged us to smell the smoke. That was pretty much the start of my downfall. Ultimately, I had a breakdown,” Carroll said in an interview after he was released on license four months into a 14-month jail sentence for misconduct in a public office.

“I’m angry, angry at GMP. Basically they let me down.

“When I joined they said it was a big family. Well, they walked away from a member of that family when he got into big trouble. What sort of family is that? I had a mental breakdown and instead of helping me they went after me,” said Carroll.

Robert Carroll in his police mugshot
Robert Carroll in his police mugshot
 

He added: “My career has been cut short. Some may argue it was my fault and say ‘why didn’t you get help?’ When you are in a position like that and in that kind of job you are surrounded by bravado and everybody else seems to be coping. It’s so hard to seek help when you are not sure what you need help for.”

He says he regrets pleading guilty at court, and claims he only did so as part of a ‘deal’ to protect his police officer wife.

The married father-of-four, originally from Ashton-under-Lyne but now living in New Mill, said he eventually became Lee Taylor, his ‘smack head’ alter ego and was smoking heroin every day.

A force spokesman said: “GMP is aware of legal proceedings brought against the force by former police officer Robert Carroll. As these proceedings are ongoing it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Carroll insists he barely drank and never took illegal drugs until he joined the police. He says a claim that he was taking drugs before he joined the police is based on a ‘sarcastic text’ found on his phone which he claims has been misinterpreted.

Robert Carroll’s evidence helped jail an estimated 200 drug dealers during his career undercover.

Yet his downward spiral was so complete that by the end he had become a ‘smackhead’.

“I honestly wanted to die,” he said. “I was very matter-of-fact about it. I thought everyone would be better off with me dead. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was having a breakdown. It was severe depression, anxiety and insomnia. I was going three and four days with no sleep. I was hallucinating. I got to the point where I was more comfortable being my alter ego Lee Taylor than I was being me.

“It was when I was Rob Carroll that I was acting the father, the family man and husband. That’s how bad I got. When you are a smack-head you are so ashamed, it’s the worse thing you can possibly be.

“Before I joined the police I had never taken any drugs. I barely drank.”

His fall from grace was described as a ‘personal tragedy’ by Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy.

Carroll, now clean. said he had paid for a psychiatrist and a hypnotherapist to oust ‘Lee Taylor’ from his mind and return himself to Robert Carroll.

He had been ‘really good’ at undercover work with commendations from his senior officers and even a judge.

“I enjoyed it. People were getting real sentences,” he said. He claimed his handlers became ‘more reckless’ and asked him to take more risks. “It started becoming a figures game,” he said, claiming senior officers were more interested in keeping crime figures low than protecting officers’ safety.

He claims his senior officers became ‘more reckless’ when they formed a new unit to tackle drug-pushers codenamed Sigma.

In jail Robert Carroll had to go undercover again all over again to save him from violence from police-hating inmates.

He was sent to HMP Wayland in Lincolnshire. It was the closest jail with no inmates he had helped to jail.

Once inside, he had to lean on his undercover skills again, posing as someone who had been jailed for assaulting a police officer.

He said: “It was as far as I could get from actually being a police officer. I said I’d been moved from Strangeways because of fighting. Part of that was so they would think I was a hard case and they’d leave me alone. I served four months inside but mentally it felt like double that.

“The only time I could relax was when I was locked up in my cell. The rest of the time I was worrying about my story. People in prison want to know about you.”

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