Leeds & West Yorkshire

Brothel cash theft PC James Hughes jailed

A debt-ridden police constable stole money seized in raids and used police computers to search for women's details, a court heard.

James Hughes was jailed for 12 months at Leeds Crown Court after admitting theft and three charges of misconduct in a public office.

The court was told Hughes, 31, from Leeds, was lonely and £60,000 in debt.

His barrister said the West Yorkshire Police officer had "batted above himself" in relationships.

He used the force computer to access information about three women and stole nearly £4,000 which had been recovered in police raids.

'Trying to impress'

An earlier court hearing was told the money had been recovered at raids at suspected brothels and lap dancing clubs.

He was able to steal the money, which was stored in bags, as he was an exhibits officer.

Prosecutor Richard Walters said Hughes was lonely, heavily in debt, spending money on women and "trying to impress people".

He described how on 24 occasions Hughes accessed information about a leisure club receptionist whose details were on the police computer system after her flatmate was arrested.

He also accessed the details of a woman whose handbag had been stolen.

A third woman had her details accessed on seven occasions, the court was told.

Hughes, who resigned from his job with West Yorkshire Police in July 2011, did not use the information for commercial gain or profit and initially accessed the details for legitimate police purposes.

'Depression set in'

However, the court was told he did eventually use the information for his "personal life".

Judge Neil Clark said the matters were so serious and the breach of trust so significant that a custodial sentence was necessary.

Nicholas Worsley, mitigating, said his client was devastated as his "entire life is the police force".

He said his life spiralled out of control when the relationship ended and "depression set in".

He said he was "batting above himself" in terms of the relationship and as a result had got into debt buying presents and holidays.

"This is a man who has lost everything. He has brought shame on himself and his family," he added.

The offences took place between February 2010 and July 2011.

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