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Lowestoft policeman David Phelps sentenced for ‘putting words in mouth’ of man accused of drugs offence

PUBLISHED: 16:46 05 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:47 05 July 2017

Police officer David Phelps at Norwich Crown Court for perverting the course of justice. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police officer David Phelps at Norwich Crown Court for perverting the course of justice. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant, Norfolk 2017

A judge has warned a Lowestoft detective’s sentence should act as a deterrent to other officers tempted to take “short cuts”.

It comes as David Phelps, a detective with Suffolk Constabulary based in Lowestoft, had denied intending to pervert the course of justice, specifically trying to coach or put words in the mouth of a man arrested in connection with a drugs matter.

He was given a 28-day sentence at Norwich Crown Court.

The court heard how Phelps, 42, a police officer for 15 years, was caught suggesting to a man he arrested how he could explain the presence of another person’s DNA on controlled drugs and account for money seized by police.

The jury heard how a conversation was secretly recorded and Phelps, could be heard appearing to suggest to the suspect he should admit the drugs found at his house were his. The court heard he also appeared to be coming up with theories about how his DNA got on the drugs.

Following his conviction the court heard Phelps had been dismissed from the force for “gross misconduct”.

Sentencing him, Judge Anthony Bate said it was “very sad” to see an officer, highly regarded by colleagues, before the court.

He accepted Phelps had not made any personal gain from his actions but was trying to “shortcut” the investigation and save time.

He said : “There is no suggestion there was an ulterior motive.”

He accepted Phelps was under personal pressure at the time and had now lost his job but as the disciplinary hearing pointed out it was important the public had trust in the “honesty and integrity” of police officers.

Judge Bate said the case should act as a deterrent to other officers: “They should not be tempted to take short cuts.”

Kevin Baumber, for Phelps, said the effect of his dismissal from the force had been “catastrophic.”

He said there was nothing “malicious or sinister” about his actions and no personal gain.

He said Phelps had been trying to progress his workload and said: “There was an element of him trying to get his job done.”

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