Page last updated at 18:54 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

'Pretend' police officer jailed

A man who pretended to family and friends he was a Metropolitan Police officer has been jailed for 20 months.

Stuart Howatson, 31, of Millside Court, Bewdley, Worcestershire, had pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon and to false accounting.

He had also pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly making false representation for gain.

Sentencing Howatson, the judge at Hereford Crown Court described him as "a common trickster and conman".

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Service said it had been revealed that Howatson had spent several years pretending to be in the force, even conning his wife about his job.

Howatson also pleaded guilty to the possession and making of indecent images of children and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years.

'Place setting'

Howatson, who was arrested at his home in October 2008, had given various accounts of his police role, including saying he was an armed officer, a dog handler and even a protection officer for the Queen, the Met spokesman said.

Before his wedding in 2006, he told prospective guests that the former commissioner Lord Stevens would be attending and even set him a dinner place, he said.

"When Sir John [who has since been awarded a life peerage] failed to arrive on the day, Howatson explained his absence in his speech, saying security issues had stopped him attending," the spokesman added.

Details of Howatson's behaviour were uncovered during an investigation by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

Howatson has also given a talk about policing, while wearing uniform, at a nursery school, the Met said.

Det Insp Claire Moxon, of the DPS, said Howatson had gone to great lengths to maintain a long-running deceit over his employment.

"His behaviour has not only deeply affected his family and friends, but risked undermining the integrity and professionalism of genuine police officers everywhere," she said.

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