Page last updated at 18:37 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Greater Manchester Pc jailed for conducting weddings

A police officer has been jailed for nine months for taking a second job conducting wedding ceremonies.

Mohammed Patel, 49, often called in sick from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) when there was a clash with his secret second career, a court heard.

Patel conducted weddings in Bolton, Bury, Lancashire and Trafford, Manchester Crown Court was told.

Patel, of Honiton Drive, Bolton, pleaded guilty to seven counts of misconduct in a public office.

Timothy Brennand, prosecuting, said Patel legitimately started working as a casual deputy registrar for Bolton Council in January 2003, with permission from his police bosses.

This is not just a case of an individual cheating his private employer it is, on the contrary, a case of an abuse of an office which is held in high regard by the community
Mr Justice Holroyd
Manchester Crown Court

But, without telling GMP, he later took on the same role for councils in Bury, Trafford, Lancashire and Blackburn.

Mr Brennand said: "If there was a clash between his police shifts or his duties as a deputy registrar, the defendant would either tell the police he was ill, say he was at court or say he was performing his duties when, in fact, he was elsewhere."

The court heard in June 2007, Patel told GMP he had a gastric illness, but was paid £25 to be an on-call registrar in Bury.

Mr Brennand said the level of "unjust enrichment" gained by Patel over the four years was around £6,000.

Misuse of car

He said the payments appeared "very modest", but that the costs to police in overtime "cannot be calculated to any degree of certainty".

Patel left GMP where he had worked for 23 years as a police constable in October when he admitted misconduct.

Five of the charges against him represented 46 occasions between August 2003 and September 2007 when he was paid for work or being on call as a deputy registrar while still on the payroll of GMP.

The two further charges related to police paperwork found at his home and the misuse of an unmarked police car.

Bernadette Baxter, defending, said Patel never made a "conscious decision" to be dishonest.

'Systematic abuse'

Mr Justice Holroyde said: "This is not just a case of an individual cheating his private employer it is, on the contrary, a case of an abuse of an office which is held in high regard by the community.

"In my judgment these offences are so serious that nothing less than a prison sentence is sufficient."

GMP's Professional Standards Branch launched an investigation into Patel in the summer of 2008, following a tip-off about his other job.

Det Ch Supt David Keller said: "The investigation regarding Mr Patel's conduct has been complex and challenging as he systematically abused the trust placed in him."

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