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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Bailed man took uniform after sneaking back into police station

A drunken roofer stole a uniform from Workington police station and then walked around the town wearing it.

Twenty-nine-year-old Lee Cunningham managed to walk unchallenged into a garage at the town’s police station, just two hours after being released on bail.

Magistrates heard how Cunningham, who has played for Wath Brow Hornets and Egremont Rangers, entered the garage late on February 20 and emerged wearing a bright yellow police jacket, white police cap and carrying a torch.

The area at the back of the station is not supposed to be accessible to the general public but Cunningham waited by the security gates until a police car was driven out and walked in while they were temporarily open.

Once inside he got into three police vehicles before trying to get into a fourth, which was locked.

He sat in the passenger seat of one, interfered with a data terminal of another, and entered a third via the passenger door.

Prosecutor John Moran told the court: “He then entered the building which belongs to the Roads Policing Unit. He is seen to come out wearing a high visibility police jacket with the number 1904.”

The court heard that Cunningham was next seen at around 1.25am drunk on Washington Street still wearing the jacket and waving a torch which he had taken from the station.

Cunningham, of Dent Place, Cleator Moor, admitted one charge of burglary other than dwelling, theft and three charges of interfering with police vehicles.

John Cooper, defending, stressed that there was “no sign of forced entry” and criticised the police’s apparently lax security.

He described the incident as “embarrassing” for them.

Mr Cooper said: “I don’t think you can class Cumbria Constabulary as vulnerable victims.

“They advise people on how to prevent burglaries and they have left three police cars unlocked, and their garage open.

“The first time they knew anything had gone missing was when they found Mr Cunningham on Washington Street in a police jacket waving a torch.

“Police saw him and he waved them over. In his head he thought it was a bit of a laugh.

“Initially, I think, the police thought it was fancy dress but then they realised it was a proper police issue jacket.”

Magistrates could have sent Cunningham to jail for up to 18 weeks but, following a stand down report, they told him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and a imposed a curfew for 16 weeks between 7pm and 7am.

Probation officer Diane Edwards said Cunningham’s mother was unwell and his coping mechanism was binge drinking.

David Burns, chairman of the bench, said: “What you did was aggravated because you had recently been released on police bail and you were under the influence of alcohol.”

Cunningham, who works as a roofer for his uncle, protested that this would interfere with his work. He was ordered to pay £85 costs and a victim surcharge of £60.

He was not charged with impersonating a police officer.

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