Court clears officer who pocketed drugs raid cash

A police officer who "panicked" during a drugs raid and pocketed bundles of cash was cleared of misconduct today.

Merseyside Pc Anthony Davitt was caught after the raid with £2,000 hidden in his trousers, Liverpool Crown Court was told.

The operation was set up by his force's Professional Standards Unit to test his integrity.

But the officer told the jury he panicked when he realised he knew the suspected drug dealer whose house he was raiding, as it was close to where his family lived in Fazakerley, Liverpool.

Pc Davitt told the court he had seen the man, an undercover police officer, in the company of "known gangsters" in a gym which he used.

He said: "I started to panic because I knew him. It would not be hard for him to find out where I lived."

Pc Davitt told the jury he put £2,000 in cash, which he found in the kitchen, in his pocket because he wanted to get back to the station with it as evidence and report what had happened to a senior officer.

The officer said he did not arrest or caution the occupant, or tell any of his fellow officers who were on the raid with him about what he had found because he believed that would put him and his family in danger.

"I was totally in bits and just knew I needed to get back and let them know what I had found," Pc Davitt told the jury.

The officer, from Whinmoor Road, West Derby, Liverpool, denied a charge of misconduct in a public office.

He was a unanimously cleared by the jury after one hour and 15 minutes of deliberations.

He smiled to family and friends as he was released from the dock by Mr Justice Teare.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said Pc Davitt will remain suspended from his job until an internal misconduct hearing takes place.