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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Cumbria police worker who passed information to drug dealer jailed

A police counter clerk was persuaded by a drug dealer friend to pass on sensitive intelligence about rival criminals.

The Honorary Recorder of Carlisle, Judge Paul Batty QC, said the crimes committed by disgraced former police worker Ben Lewis, 21, struck a blow to public confidence in Cumbria’s policing and criminal justice systems.

The judge made the comment after hearing an outline of the case against Lewis, who admitted misconduct while employed in a public office, theft and two serious drugs offences.

Barrister David Pojur, prosecuting, told how Lewis was employed as a civilian police counter clerk at Carlisle’s Civic Centre during the early part of last year when he got to know two of his co-defendants, Jamie MacAuley, 20, and his girlfriend Lauren Richardson, 18.

MacAuley worked at a take-away outlet and Richardson would often go out with him on deliveries and also accompany him on drug runs.

Mr Pojur said it became clear that Lewis would be useful to MacAuley in accessing information on the police computer system.

“MacAuley was interested in getting Lewis to use the police system to find out information about drug rivals.

“His intention...was to supply false information to the police on an anonymous basis, getting his competitors arrested and taken out of the system,” he added.

There was evidence that the defendants had taken drugs together, mainly cannabis, and an indication that they planned to supply both that drug and also cocaine, said the prosecutor.

Text messages showed MacAuley had a deep interest in the drugs world and was aware of how deals needed to be structured to achieve profit margins. He also advised Lewis on how to sell drugs.

Lauren Richardson’s role in the plot was more that of a “go-between”, said Mr Pojur. She would send text messages to Lewis for MacAuley.

Some of the information Lewis passed on included telling MacAuley what the police knew about his movements and his vehicle.

The court heard how MacAuley used Lewis in an attempt to remove his rival drug dealers. MacAuley asked how he could organise a ‘police sting’ on a rival and Lewis advised him to write an anonymous letter about the man, which he promised to pass on to the sergeant for the area of Harraby where the man lived.

In response, MacAuley’s texted reply simply said: “Cool mate”.

On another occasion Lewis used his inside knowledge to help MacAuley after police stopped his car and told him to prove he had the proper insurance documents. Shortly after he supplied Lewis with cannabis at a “bargain” price.

Lewis, of Cumrew, Heads Nook, near Brampton, admitted two offences of misconduct in a public office while working as a police counter clerk on March 15 and on April 28 of last year.

He has also admitted conspiring to supply cannabis, a class B drug and conspiring to supply the class A drug cocaine and three counts of theft – stealing a camera and two wallets.

He was today jailed for four-and-a-half years.

MacAuley, of Station Road, Cumwhinton, admitted conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis and aiding, abetting or procuring Lewis to disclose confidential information and commit misconduct in a public office. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

Richardson, of Mayfield Avenue, Harraby, Carlisle, admitted conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Two other people are also in court in connection with the case.

Paul Elliman, 19, of Warwick Road, Carlisle, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis and offering to supply the class B drug. He was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years and given a community order.

Benjamin Stout, 20, of London Road, Carlisle, admitted aiding, abetting or procuring Lewis to disclose confidential information and commit misconduct in a public office on March 15 last year. He was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years and given a community order.

Speaking after the sentencing, temporary Deputy Chief Constable Jeremy Graham said Lewis had abused his position of trust and disclosed highly sensitive information.

"As soon as suspicions about his behaviour came to light we took swift action and suspended him from duty. He no longer works for the constabulary.

“A breach of our trust from a member of staff is taken extremely seriously and this court case shows the lengths we will go to protect confidential data and the safety of our communities.”

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