Shamed police officer demanded money from hotels to give free advice about guns

A corrupt police officer demanded hundreds of pounds from posh hotels to give advice on guns he was supposed to offer for free.

Paul Duffield, 55, pocketed more than £700 by scamming the upmarket venues in a one-month crime spree.

His civilian role with North Yorkshire Police in 2017 involved visiting venues to offer tips on the safe storage of firearms.

But the disgraced copper instead invoiced the plush Feversham Arms and Black Swan hotels in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, more than £300 each.

This was to tell them where their shotguns used by guests for grouse shooting should be kept.

His bosses found out weeks later and Duffield was suspended.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to 10 months in jail after admitting two counts of misconduct in public office and two firearms charges.

Jailing Duffield, Judge Sean Morris told him: "You attended these premises on leave days and arranged for private payment for your inspections.

"The most you could have gained was around £800. That was a corrupt practice.

"Corruption is like a creeping cancer. It may have small beginnings but it can rapidly spread. Fortunately, in your case it was arrested – literally – before it could go any further.

"This is misconduct in a public office and the fact of the matter is that the honesty and integrity of officials, especially the police, is crucial to public trust and essential to the social fabric and economic welfare of this country.

"If the public cannot trust the police and those who work for them, that will break down."

Teesside Crown Court heard the defendant was once a respected police officer who was praised by then Prime Minister Tony Blair for bravery on duty in 2002.

He also holds a world record for speed shooting and was on the brink of a GB Olympic place.

But he abused his trust in May 2017 as North Yorkshire Police's firearms inquiry officer, who was supposed to provide advice for nothing.

He was in the role after retiring as a traditional officer with the force in 2013.

Police later found illegally held powerful air rifles and ammunition at the man's home in Easingwold, near York.

Dan Cordey, prosecuting, said: "The defendant was effectively moonlighting. He attended the hotels whilst on leave and not wearing his uniform, but handed over his North Yorkshire police business card.

"He inspected both hotels and gave advice on the safe storage of firearms.

"Both are popular with guests who stay whilst attended shooting parties and the hotels have safe storage rooms where shotguns, firearms and the like can be kept.

"He inspected those rooms and later raised invoices for £330 and £393, one of which was paid.

"This was advice that he should have given free in his role as the firearms enquiry officer. He was later arrested on suspicion of fraud."

But the court heard Duffield's misdemeanours happened after his relationship with his partner had ended and he had faced a drink problem.

James Gelsthorpe, defending, said: "He received a police bravery award in 2002 and a Chief Constable's commendation.

"I am told he received that award for this conduct at 10 Downing Street which is perhaps indicative of his bravery.

"He is a man who through no one's actions but his own has suffered a shattering fall from grace.

"He has lost his good name, his employment, his firearms and shotgun licence which are a central part of his life.

"At one point, he was on the verge of joining the Great Britain team at the Seoul Olympics and he still holds a world record in relation to speed shooting.

"Through his actions he has brought discredit upon himself, the police and his family."

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