Year’s jail for policewoman who couldn’t be bothered to arrest man
Constable Michele Selby confiscated tools from a man who claimed to be fixing the door of a restaurant in Kirkintilloch at 5:30am on 26 July.
Glasgow Sheriff Court heard she told the man – who had six previous convictions, including one for a similar offence – that if she did not have another call to go to she would have detained him.
But, the call she was rushing to was not a 999 call, but delivering mail to another police station.
The 38-year-old then threw the tools in a bin at Kirkintilloch Police office before clocking off at 7am.
Selby, of Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, told the court she believed the man was fixing the door and that no crime was being committed.
But Sheriff Richard Clark rejected her evidence and found her guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
Passing sentence yesterday, Sheriff Clark told Selby: “I recognise that the effect of this conviction is catastrophic for you, I also recognise that prior to the commission you were held in high regard in society.
“Nevertheless, having regard to the factors I am satisfied that a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal in this case.”
The court heard from PC Mechelle Maley, 23, who was on duty with 38-year-old Selby that morning.
PC Maley said she brought her colleague’s attention to the man at the door of the Moon River Chinese restaurant and they went to speak to him.
The officer said she spotted a red-handled screwdriver, crowbar and wrench and that the man looked as though he was trying to break into the restaurant. She said Selby took his details and did a background check then spoke to him.
PC Maley said: “She told him, ‘We know you are trying to break in and if we didn’t have another call to go to you would be getting the jail’.”
The Prosecutor Andrew Beadsworth asked the witness: “What, if anything was said after that?”
She answered: “She said we would be taking the tools from him.”
The court was told that they returned to the police car and the man walked away.
Mr Beadsworth asked: “Did you speak to her about what had happened?”
The officer replied: “When we got in the car she said if she could be bothered he would have got the jail, or words to that effect.”
The court heard the young officer then asked Selby what the job was they were going to and was told it was delivering mail.
She also said Selby then put the tools in the bin once they got back to the police station.
PC Maley told the court she did not feel confident enough to challenge Selby’s decision to let the man go or to bin the tools, but later flagged it up.
In her evidence, Selby claimed she did not see a crowbar or wrench at the door of the restaurant, only screwdrivers, a hammer and a box of nails.
She told the court: “I didn’t believe a crime had been committed.”
Defence lawyer Callum Anderson asked Selby: “What was your purpose in asking the male to give you the tools?”
She answered: “To see what his answer would be but he was saying I could take the tools.”
Selby added: “I made a mistake, it wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t wilful, it wasn’t evil. I didn’t start my shift and say I’m going to defeat the ends of justice today.”
Mr Anderson told the court that his client’s actions were not for financial or personal gain adding: “If the accused acted differently and detained the man then she probably would have received financial benefit for that in the form of overtime.”
Mr Anderson added that since being found guilty of the offence Selby has resigned from the police force.