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Metropolitan Police detective jailed for stealing £83,000 cash from Heathrow Airport passengers

Detective Sergeant Michael Harrington pocketed large sums of cash that he had confiscated for investigation 

Chris Baynes
Wednesday 28 February 2018 22:25 GMT
Detective Sergeant Michael Harrington stole cash confiscated from passengers at Heathrow Airport
Detective Sergeant Michael Harrington stole cash confiscated from passengers at Heathrow Airport (Metropolitan Police)

A rogue Metropolitan Police detective has been jailed for stealing thousands of pounds in cash from passengers at Heathrow Airport.

Detective Sergeant Michael Harrington, 46, pocketed up to £83,000 that had been confiscated by the force’s financial crime team over five years.

He was stationed at the airport to prevent unauthorised cash being taken in or out of the UK by passengers.

His work involved seizing and investigating large sums of cash being transported through Heathrow.

The money should have been returned to passengers if no evidence was found that links it to crime, but Harrington regularly kept the cash for himself.

In some cases he falsely recorded that the money had been returned to its owner after being found to be lawful. In others, he noted the seized sum as less than the passenger had been carrying and pocketed the remainder.

Two of his victims were travelling to overseas weddings when they were stopped by Harrington. Another did not speak English but was denied an interpreter while the detective confiscated their legitimate money.

Some victims suffered “significant financial hardship” as a result of losing their cash, said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Harrington’s crimes came to light after victims contacted police about obtaining the money that had been seized from them. The force’s investigation led to Harrington.

He was arrested and suspended from duty in July 2015. Following his arrest, police found empty evidence bags used to seize money at his home.

Harrington was charged with 16 counts of theft in April 2016. He pleaded guilty to all charges at the beginning of a scheduled trial in October last year.

Prosecutors said he stole between £75,000 and £83,000 between between October 2010 and July 2015.

Harrington was jailed for four years and six months at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday.

Riaz Jakhura, senior prosecutor in the CPS’s complex casework unit, said: “Harrington took advantage of a number of passengers including foreign nationals making their way through Heathrow Airport.

"He abused his position as a financial investigator for the police, contributing to significant stress and financial hardship for some of his victims.

“He called victims into the police station to discuss his fabricated plans to get their money back – even telling one that he would have to wait up to three years.

"When under pressure he also paid money back to a victim from his own bank account, and attempted to make the transfer look like it came from an official Metropolitan Police Service bank account.”

Detective Sergeant Stuart Hart, of the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, said: ”DHarrington clearly took advantage of his position to steal a large quantity of cash that had been seized at Heathrow.

“He remains suspended and now criminal proceedings have concluded, misconduct proceedings will take place.”

None of the money stolen by Harrington has been found. He will now face Met confiscation proceedings in a bid to recover the cash.

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