'Injured' policeman got £58,000 sick pay while moonlighting as professional dog walker
10 January 2020, 14:41
A police officer who got tens of thousands of pounds in sick pay while moonlighting as a professional dog walker has avoided a jail sentence.
Richard Williams, 40, had been deemed unfit to work as a PC for the Metropolitan Police after he was involved in two car crashes in 2014 and 2015.
But he had actually been only lightly injured, the court was told.
According to prosecutor Daniel Higgins, Williams fraudulently received £58,000 in net wages and £24,500 in pension contributions over an 18-month period.
The total loss to the Met was more than £100,000, although some of this was later taken back through tax deductions.
Meanwhile, Williams had been earning thousands of pounds as a professional dog walker.
He denied nine counts of fraud by providing false medical certificates between April 2015 and November 2017, but was convicted by a jury of seven counts.
He was cleared of one count of fraud and a further count was left to lie on file.
Sentencing Williams to a two-year suspended sentence, Judge Christopher Hehir at Southwark Crown Court said: "If he had turned up and made the appointments he probably would have got a sick note in any event.
"He could have been paid most if not all of the money he got without resorting to dishonesty."
Robert Morris, defending Williams, said his client's actions were "risky, thoughtless and stupid".
He added: "Before his accidents he was a useful officer and now custody stares him in the face.
"His life entered a period of spiralling. Having been an active police officer he was then involved in those two road traffic accidents and suddenly experienced chronic widespread pain, cognitive problems, depression, anxiety and a lack of sleep.
"This wasn't fraudulent from the outset."
Mr Morris added: "He has obviously lost his good name and reputation and that is a significant matter for a man of 40 years of age who was a police officer."
Williams, who the court was told has been formally diagnosed with chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, resigned from the force in February 2019.
Judge Hehir said: "You were lightly injured in a road traffic accident in 2015, you thereafter experienced chronic pain and something similar had happened in an earlier accident.
"You enthusiastically diagnosed yourself of fibromyalgia which is simply a medical term for unexplained pain.
"My conclusion is that you did experience some health difficulties following a collision in early 2015 but your difficulties are essentially psychosomatic and it's also my conclusion that you exaggerated them.
"Quite apart of the exaggeration in court it was also eloquently demonstrated that during the indictment period you ran with enthusiasm, and no little energy, a dog walking business."
Judge Heihir said that he considered sending Williams to prison, but opted to suspend the sentence as Williams is the sole carer of his teenage son.
"The frauds were carried out over a lengthy period and there was a huge breach of trust involved.
"Your line manager indicated that he thought he could trust his men, trust people like you to act truthfully and correctly, you've breached his trust, the trust of the Met Police Service and the trust of the public."
Williams will also have to complete a rehabilitation activity requirement of 12 months and appear again at Southwark Crown Court on 12 June for a confiscation hearing.