A former police detective is behind bars after stealing thousands of pounds in cash seized from passengers at Heathrow Airport .
Michael Harrington, 46, from Staines, worked at the airport as a Detective Sergeant with the Metropolitan Police , tasked with carrying out financial investigations and seizing unauthorised cash from those travelling in and out of the country.
But during his five years in the role, between July 2009 and July 2015, it is estimated that he stole between £75,000 and £83,000 from 16 victims, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
In some instances Harrington seized cash from victims and then falsely recorded that it had been given back after it was found to be lawful money.
In others he recorded the amounts seized to be less than they actually were, pocketing whole sums in the process.
The disgraced former financial investigator was jailed for four-and-a-half years for 16 counts of theft, at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday (February 28).
'Significant stress and financial hardship'
Riaz Jakhura, from the CPS London’s Complex Casework unit, said: "Harrington took advantage of a number of passengers, including foreign nationals making their way through Heathrow Airport.
"He abused his position as a financial investigator for the police, contributing to significant stress and financial hardship for some of his victims.
"He called genuine victims into the police station to discuss fabricated plans about getting their money back – even telling one that he would have to wait up to three years.
"When under pressure he also paid money back to a victim from his own bank account, and attempted to make the transfer look like it came from the official Metropolitan Police Service bank account.
"A number of empty evidence bags used to seize money from passengers passing through Heathrow airport were also found at his home address.
"The overwhelming evidence against Harrington meant that he had no choice but to admit his crimes."
Two victims suffered financial loss when attending weddings abroad without the legitimate money they had planned to take with them.
On one occasion, Harrington denied a victim the opportunity to have an interpreter present when confiscating legitimate money.
He was caught when victims started to contact police about getting back the money seized. That investigation led the police to Harrington.
Harrington, who had been suspended from the Met Police pending the completion of the court case, admitted the thefts in October last year.
He had previously failed to turn up to an earlier sentence hearing, prompting a warrant for his arrest.
Harrington is now the subject of confiscation proceedings and police disciplinary proceedings.
Metropolitan Police compensated all legitimate victims of Harrington’s crimes.
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