David Sharpe: Detective who stole murder case money jailed
A highly-commended detective who stole £9,000 related to murder cases from a police safe has been jailed.
Det Sgt David Sharpe, 40, worked for the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit when, in a "snap decision", he took the cash.
A court heard his actions had been used in one trial, in which the accused were acquitted of murder, "to undermine the police and the investigation".
He was jailed for 20 months after admitting two counts of theft.
Sharpe, who had been suspended from duty, had previously received a commendation for the very highest standards of detective work for his role in solving the murder of author Helen Bailey in 2016.
Cambridge Crown Court heard the cash he stole had been seized by police during two separate murder investigations and placed in a safe.
Prosecutor Marti Blair said on 18 March a police detective went to the check if the money from one of the cases had been banked but found it missing.
It was subsequently discovered that money related to another investigation, named Operation Mocha, had also disappeared.
Sharpe later admitted to taking the money, saying he had gone to the safe to return cash and "made a snap decision" to take the other money but "planned to pay it back".
Three men were cleared of murder when Operation Mocha came to trial and Judge David Farrell QC told the court: "The activities of the defendant figured in the case and meant the defence were able to use the facts of the defendant's dishonesty to undermine the police and the investigation.
"How or what other factors were also present is not a matter I need to consider. That indicates that it certainly has had an effect."
Mitigating, Phoebe Bragg said Sharpe had been in financial difficulty at the time and had "shown a very high degree of remorse".
Sentencing Sharpe, Judge Farrell said: "It was a complete betrayal of your role and all you stood for and a betrayal of your colleagues.
"It had the potential to damage... prosecutions and risk the guilty escaping justice."