A Metropolitan Police detective is facing jail after admitting stealing more than £83,000 in cash which was seized from passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport.
Michael Harrington, 46, a serving financial investigator in the Met's Economic Crime Unit (ECU), stole cash taken from 16 passengers in a five-year crime spree between October 2010 and July 2015.
The detective sergeant was suspended by the Metropolitan Police Service in July last year when the allegations came to light.
Harrington appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, for what was supposed to be the first day of a trial.
But as jurors were being sworn in to try the case, the detective asked to be re-arraigned and admitted 16 charges of theft.
DS Harrington was based at Heathrow and as part of the Criminal Finance Team regularly seized large amounts of cash from people travelling out of the country.
The money should have been seized and banked, with it being returned to the owner if, following subsequent investigation, there was no evidence it had been obtained by criminal means.
Instead, DS Harrington kept the money for himself.
Following a complaint by a member of the public that their funds had not been returned, an investigation began by the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Specialist Investigation unit.
DS Harrington was arrested and searches of his home uncovered items including empty cash bags and various police documentation.
None of the cash was ever recovered.
Judge Martin Griffith granted Harrington bail "as an act of mercy" so he could get his affairs in order ahead of being given a likely prison sentence.
Detective Sergeant Stuart Hart, from the DPS, said: “DS Harrington clearly took advantage of his position to steal a large quantity of cash that had been seized at Heathrow.
“He remains suspended and once all criminal matters are complete, misconduct proceedings will take place."
Harrington, of Parkside Place, Staines, Surrey, admitted 16 counts of theft totalling up to £83,500.
He was bailed ahead of sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on 28 November.
Keep up to date with the latest news in west London via the free getwestlondon app.
You can set up your app to see all the latest news and events from your area, plus receive push notifications for breaking news.