South Wales Police officer Ben Cook jailed for burglaries

by Pelican Press
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South Wales Police officer Ben Cook jailed for burglaries

15 minutes ago

By Stephen Fairclough, BBC news

South Wales Police Police mug shot of Ben CookSouth Wales Police

Ben Cook was jailed for theft, attempted burglary, burglary and corruption offences

A corrupt police sergeant has been jailed for burglaries, including one where he thought he had stolen a safe with £60,000 in.

Ben Cook, 24, also tried to burgle another house and used the police computer to plan his crimes in January and February 2024.

Cook, of Hirwaun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, pleaded guilty to theft, attempted burglary, burglary, securing unauthorised access to computer material with intent to commit an offence and corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privileges.

He was jailed for six years and four months and Cardiff Crown Court heard the safe, which contained cash and personal items, has never been found.

After using the police computer, Cook, who had been a police officer for 10 years, discovered that colleagues suspected someone had £60,000 in a safe in their home.

He entered the home in his police uniform while the occupant Joanne Watkins was in the shower.

He claimed he had a search warrant about suspected drugs offences, but refused to show it to Ms Watkins, telling her she had to stay on the sofa while he carried out the search.

After finding the safe and taking it with him, Ms Watkins called her husband who went to the police station with the safe keys to allow them to open it.

When he arrived he was told no police officer had been sent to his home.

Cook told officers he had left the safe on waste ground, but it has never been found.

Ben Cook arriving at court

South Wales Police’s chief constable called Ben Cook’s actions “wholly unacceptable”

Cook was also sent to reports of a sudden death where officers removed more than £16,000.

When Cook returned the money to the dead man’s sister, Eileen Price, he stole a key from her front door.

Four days later he was seen on CCTV in the area around her home in Pencoed, Bridgend county.

He then called her pretending to be from the coroner’s office and said she needed to go to the Princess of Wales Hospital because of a problem with her brother’s post-mortem examination.

While she was at the hospital, he tried to get into Mrs Price’s home using the key, but was unable to.

The key and the rucksack he was seen wearing on the CCTV were found when his home was searched.

On 9 February Cook called South Wales Police’s anti-corruption unit and said: “I want to hand myself in, I’ve done something stupid.

“I’ve been blackmailed and I’m in fear. I’ve done a burglary.”

He told officers he had been blackmailed after sending pictures of himself to another man online and had been told to leave the safe on waste ground.

In a personal impact statement, Ms Watkins said that Cook had “taken my self-esteem, confidence and trust in the law”.

Sentencing Cook, Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke said he had made “deliberate, conscious and pre-meditated attempts” to commit offences which were of “harm to South Wales Police and police in general”.

Cook – who was of previous good character – had “thrown away” his reputation, she added.

South Wales Police Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said Cook had “let himself and the police service down badly and destroyed any trust the communities of south Wales had in him as a police officer”.

He added that he had written a personal letter of apology to the victim of Cook’s burglary saying he was “disgusted by his actions and was deeply sorry”.

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