Officer is cleared of magazine theft
PUBLISHED: 16:18 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 11:14 12 August 2010
A POLICE sergeant who was convicted of stealing £43.17 worth of magazines from a WHSmith store had his name cleared at the Court of Appeal in London. David John Sutton, 52, of Scarborough Close, Biggin Hill, has been restricted to desk duty since he was
A POLICE sergeant who was convicted of stealing £43.17 worth of magazines from a WHSmith store had his name cleared at the Court of Appeal in London.
David John Sutton, 52, of Scarborough Close, Biggin Hill, has been restricted to desk duty since he was convicted of theft at Woolwich Crown Court in July of last year.
But last Thursday, the Met Police sergeant, who is based at Croydon, left the Court of Appeal vindicated after three senior judges quashed his conviction, also overturning the £250 fine he was ordered to pay. Lord Justice Hooper, who heard the case with Mrs Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Sweeney, said deficiencies in the way the trial was run "concerned" the court and rendered the trial unfair.
Sergeant Sutton, who has 30 years experience and is now an operational support sergeant, responsible for logistics at Croydon, was alleged to have stolen £43.17 worth of magazines from a WHSmith store in Orpington in January 2006.
At his trial, the Crown Prosecution Service, relying on evidence given by a store security guard who apprehended Mr Sutton, succeeded in convincing the jury of his guilt.
But he continued to proclaim his innocence of the charge and, with his barrister Graham Cooke, took his case to the Court of Appeal. Mr Cooke argued that the way the trial was run and the order in which evidence was given harmed his defence and meant he was unable to have a fair trial.
In particular, he said, it was wrong for the jury to hear psychiatric evidence before they had even been able to see and hear from Mr Sutton.
Quashing the conviction, Lord Justice Hooper said: "In our view, requiring the expert to give evidence first deprived him of a fair trial.
"What the jury needed to hear, first of all, was what the defendant was saying, hear what the prosecution witnesses were saying about the events in question and then listening to and assessing the evidence given by the expert."
He added that it was not in the public interest for Mr Sutton to be re-tried.