Ex-police officer Rachel Hewitt jailed for cancer lie

 

A former police officer who lied about her daughter having cancer so she could take her to show jumping events was jailed today.

Rachel Hewitt, 39, of South Elmsall in West Yorkshire, claimed her teenage daughter was having chemotherapy for a tumour and had been critically ill in intensive care.

North Yorkshire Police gave her compassionate leave, special shifts and colleagues even organised whip-rounds to buy the family gifts.

But her daughter was actually taking part in equestrian contests, which Hewitt took her to after telling a "pack of lies", Hull Crown Court heard.

Jailing Hewitt for 18 months, the judge said she had shown an "extreme breach of trust" by spinning lie after lie for around two years before she was arrested last October.

The mother-of-two was also granted time off from her role, for which she got a salary of up to £29,400, after claiming she had swine flu and other serious illness, Simon Batiste, prosecuting, told the court.

"It is implicit in the job of police officer that the public expect the highest level of honesty and integrity from the officers who serve the community," he said.

"Sadly, in this case, the defendant, by deliberately fabricating emotive family problems to obtain time off, then a career break, acted wholly dishonestly and her behaviour fell far below that standard expected by the public."

He said Hewitt took "considerable periods off from work" and was put on a four-day week after claiming her daughter, Natasha, 15, had the life-threatening illness and pretending she had also developed other conditions during her treatment.

"On May 1 2010, she indicated her daughter had been hospitalised with pneumonia and would undergo treatment on May 7. In fact, her daughter was competing that very day at the Port Royal Showground," he said, adding that Hewitt's two daughters were "keen and successful showjumpers and actively involved in the showjumping circuit".

On another occasion, in January last year, Hewitt claimed Natasha had been in intensive care for eight days after suffering a life-threatening infection, and was granted compassionate leave.

"In fact, that weekend, Natasha was acting as a groom to a friend at an equestrian event," said Mr Batiste.

Hewitt was arrested at her home and made no comment during police interviews.

She pleaded guilty to fraud and misconduct in a public office.

She denied a further charge of fraud relating to a career break at a previous hearing and the Crown agreed not to proceed with the charge.

Heidi Cotton, representing Hewitt, said the defendant accepted "deliberately fabricating evocative family problems", which was reflected in her plea.

Jailing Hewitt, who no longer works for the force, for 18 months, Judge Simon Jack said: "We have a very good police force in this country and they rely very heavily on trust.

"Your actions have undermined the trust the police officers place in each other and they will no doubt undermine to some extent at least the trust members of the public place in the police.

"If a police officer has been seen to be telling a pack of lies, even if not directly to the public, that clearly undermines the faith the public have in the police.

"I don't accept that you got locked into a pattern of lies. It's perfectly clear that not only did your lies go on for a long period of time, they involved new lies.

"Nobody thought for a moment somebody would lie about something so serious, so emotive as the health of their child. That's why you got away with it for so long."

PA

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