Officer stole cannabis in `drugs sting'

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The Independent Online
A SCOTLAND Yard detective and two former Flying Squad officers were filmed stealing 80kg of cannabis in a trap set by anti-corruption police, an Old Bailey court heard yesterday.

Detectives from the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) planted the drugs in a flat in east London and then videotaped the three defendants breaking in and stealing the cannabis.

Detective Constable Terence McGuinness, 41, from the CID unit of Limehouse police station and retired Flying Squad Officer Detective Constable Kevin Garner, 38, have pleaded guilty to burglary and conspiracy to supply class B drugs, the jury was told.

Former detective sergeant Keith Green, 41, who retired from the Flying Squad in July 1996 on the grounds of ill health, pleaded not guilty to aggravated burglary and conspiracy to supply class B drugs.

David Waters, for the prosecution, said the CIB "set a trap" and left the cannabis at a flat in Silvertown in December 1996. They set up several video cameras inside and outside the property and kept it under 24-hour surveillance

Eighty blocks of the drug were wrapped in green plastic bags and left in a cabinet in the bathroom. The jury was shown the video of the three men breaking into the flat above a shop.

McGuinness forced the door open and was followed up the stairs by Mr Green, who was carrying his old police truncheon, and Garner. Mr Green acted as "look out".

The prosecution said that the supplying of drugs is "hardly unique", but the circumstances of this case are "unusual" because it involves police officers.

The court heard that all the men had served together in the Flying Squad, which is responsible for targeting armed robbers, between 1988 and 1993. They were stationed in Rigg Approach in Walthamstow, east London.

Garner and Mr Green both retired and McGuinness later transferred to CID.

The court heard that McGuinness was on duty at the time and drove to the flat in a CID vehicle, a blue Vauxhall Astra, after the men had met up outside Limehouse police station. Garner and Mr Green travelled in a separate car.

The three arrived at the flat after 10pm on 4 December 1996. They all left carrying bags of the drugs, but they were not arrested immediately because McGuinness is a serving officer and the three defendants were "very surveillance sensitive," said the prosecution.

The drugs were later transferred to a another car. McGuinness then returned to duty and finished his shift.

The men were arrested four days later and 54 kilos of the drug were recovered.

Mr Green allegedly told police after his arrest that he had no idea he had removed drugs from the property. He said that Garner had arrived "out of the blue" at his home at in Ilford, east London.

He claimed that Garner asked him to help recover "some property". He said: "I went to the premises and thought I was involved in a lawful activity. I believed Garner ran a debt recovery business."

Mr Green complained after his arrest that he had been "set up".

The trial continues.