A FORMER Police Community Support Officer and her husband have been jailed for ‘a ruinous escapade’ to falsely claim that their £15,000 Range Rover had been stolen from Burnsall.
Fiona Price, 33, who was in line to become a detective constable with West Yorkshire Police, and Darren Price, 37, who runs a tiling company, were each locked up for three months at Bradford Crown Court on Friday.
The judge, Recorder Alex Menary said they had ruined her career and his business and ‘put a hard stop’ to the family unit they were building.
The couple, of West Ardsley, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to doing acts tending or intended to pervert the course of public justice on August 20 last year.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said they made a false report to the police that the Range Rover, in need of £2,000 worth of repairs, had been stolen from a layby at Burnsall, north of Skipton, while they were out walking.
The next day they made a claim for the loss of the vehicle to Hastings Direct Insurance.
Mr Sharp said the 2005 Range Rover was on a financial agreement and insured in Fiona Price’s name.
She was a Leeds-based PCSO for West Yorkshire Police, waiting to start a career as a Detective Constable, when she lied to the police and the insurance company.She had since resigned from her post.
Mr Sharp said it was ‘a most unusual theft’ and suspicions were quickly aroused.
The police conducted CCTV and cell site checks and discovered that the couple had travelled to North Yorkshire that day in a Renault Clio.
“This was an entirely false story from the outset. They planned to paint a wholly false picture because the Range Rover needed substantial repairs,” Mr Sharp said.
There were no sightings of the vehicle since August 6, 2022. Fiona Price had been in the habit of taking it to work but she was using the Clio instead.
The court heard that Darren Price made Google searches including ‘how far would police investigate a stolen car?’ Mr Sharp said he had complained of ongoing problems with the Range Rover and that it was costing a fortune.
The couple were arrested and Darren Price denied driving the Clio on the day of the supposed theft. He made no comment about the Google searches.
Fiona Price maintained her story that the vehicle was stolen while they were on a walk.
In November, each made a pre-prepared statement criticising the police investigation.
Darren Price accused officers of tarnishing his wife’s image and causing stress and upset.
She criticised them for causing immense and unnecessary stress. She said she was devastated and embarrassed and her career with the force had been put on hold.
Zareen Alam-Cheetham, Darren Price’s barrister, said the Range Rover was a stress and a burden that he couldn’t cope with and he wasn’t motivated by financial gain.
His father died three months earlier and he was left feeling helpless and depressed.
The couple were caring for a terminally ill relative who had since died.
It was an incredibly distressing period and the offence was impulsive and out of character.Price’s depression had triggered his impulsive behaviour. He was deeply ashamed and genuinely remorseful.
An immediate custodial sentence would have a significantly harmful effect on the children.
Price ran his own tiling business and an employee would be out of work if he was jailed.
Glenn Parsons said in mitigation for Fiona Price that it was a very sad case. Her career as a detective constable was in tatters.
He conceded that the custody threshold was passed but urged the court to suspend the sentence.
Recorder Menary said it was ‘a ruinous escapade.’ Fiona Price was on the training scheme to become a detective constable. It was thrown away over an unwillingness to pay for repairs to the vehicle.
“You could have afforded the repairs, you just didn’t want to,” he told the couple.
It was to their shame that they went on to be critical of the police officers investigating the case.
Recorder Menary said it was ‘audacity that beggars belief.’ ‘It was brinkmanship that backfired in the worst possible way,” he told them.
It was calculated offending and cried out for a deterrent sentence, he said.