Policeman 'used heroin as bait to get confession'

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The Independent Online

A trial collapsed yesterday after a policeman was captured on a security camera apparently standing by while a man he had arrested injected heroin.

The detective is one of two officers accused of using heroin as bait to obtain a confession from a known drug addict and suspected armed robber. A judge threw out the attempted robbery charge yesterday and reported the two officers to the Crown Prosecution Service on suspicion of perjury.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the officers allowed the girlfriend of the suspect, William Melia, 30, to bring him heroin while in custody and inject it into his groin on two occasions. The second time the injecting was filmed in a Liverpool street as one of the officers, Detective Constable Steven Bradley stood by.

Detective Constable Paul Wynne was allegedly in his police car near by at the time of the drug use. DC Bradley and DC Wynne say that they were not aware of any drug addiction and deny acting in an unprofessional manner.

Mr Melia was arrested on 6 August on suspicion of stealing £10,000 from a security guard's cash box using an imitation gun in February 2001.

Judge Bryn Holloway said that the police officers had told the suspect that if he told them where the cash box was he could meet his girlfriend and have some heroin. Judge Holloway said that, after the arrest, the officers had allowed the suspect to telephone his girlfriend, Rachel McKenzie, asking her to bring heroin. The judge said: "I am of the view that the investigating officers had deliberately facilitated the purchase of heroin while Mr Melia was in their custody.

"There is clear evidence of corrupt conduct. In my opinion, Mr Melia was allowed to ring his girlfriend at her home at the YMCA in order to bring his drugs paraphernalia and come to Mr Melia's home.

"DC Bradley said Mr Melia was telling his girlfriend to stay by his side and that he was upset and felt sorry for him. I do not accept that he had established such a rapport with this total stranger and suspected armed robber, which would also compromise his situation as a Merseyside police officer.

"I am satisfied DC Bradley did not tell me the truth about the conversation had by Mr Melia. They stayed there because they knew Rachel was on her way round with the drugs. I am satisfied that Mr Melia's girlfriend came and injected it into his groin."

The court heard that a second heroin fix arranged with the knowledge of police was caught on a security camera in Green Street, Liverpool. Judge Holloway said: "I am satisfied there was a prearranged rendezvous with Rachel McKenzie with the purpose of providing heroin.

"In interview it was made clear to him that if he told them where the cash box was he could meet Rachel who could provide him with heroin."

DC Bradley and DC Wynne claim that they drove to Green Street because Mr Melia begged them to let him out of the car to go to the lavatory. But Mr Melia says they took him to the YMCA where his girlfriend lived before taking him to the deserted road to inject heroin.

Judge Holloway dismissed the police officer's account of events, saying he doubted there was any other reason than to allow Melia to inject the heroin.

The judge said: "Rachel had brought with her the drug and the needle so that Mr Melia could be injected in the presence of DC Bradley. The officer probably thought that if Mr Melia complained, no one would ever check the videos. But the consequences of my findings might well be very serious. They [DC Bradley and DC Wynne] have conspired to arrange with him to use drugs and committed perjury in front of me.''

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said: "The force notes the comments of the judge today with grave concern and has launched an immediate inquiry."