Cleared PC's trial was 'a waste of money'
A police officer has been acquitted of defrauding his force's widows and orphans fund in a case which his family said should never have been brought to court.
Darren Copp, 37, of Torridge Road, Plymouth, had been accused of claiming he had no access to a car when in fact he did, in order to buy a new vehicle.
However, he had pleaded not guilty to one charge of fraud by false representation and a jury agreed with him, clearing him of the charge after a three-day trial at Taunton Crown Court.
His brother Mark Copp, 52, from Saltash in South East Cornwall, said his brother's suspension from the force during the investigation and then subsequent trial had been a "complete waste of taxpayers' money".
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The family said they felt the matter could have been cleared up with an internal investigation and that bringing the case before the courts – only to prove Mr Copp was not guilty – was a waste of time and money.
Mark Copp explained that he understood his brother had been driving a car bought by his parents, which needed to be sold, so he planned to use the grant to buy a cheaper car that he owned outright.
He added: "I always knew he was not guilty whatsoever. He's an honest and reliable man. It didn't seem right that my taxes were being used to fund this. They should have kept it internal.
"My brother was already in financial difficulties, which is the reason he went to the benevolent fund for some assistance. There seemed to be a total lack of empathy for the financial situation he was in."
He said he had written to the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police expressing his concerns and had received a letter back saying he would receive a reply from the Professional Standards Branch (PSB), but has not yet received one.
"He is immensely relieved," he added. "It put him under severe stress [and] severe financial strain."
The court heard earlier this week how Mr Copp's troubles began following a split with his wife in 2011. He had moved back in with his parents, but was unable to visit his two seven-year-old boys as debt prevented him from buying a car for himself. He submitted the claim to the hardship fund between October 2 and 13, 2011, but shortly afterwards an e-mail was received by a serving officer with concerns about the claim.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said the decision to press charges was made by the Crown Prosecution Service. He added the matter would be reassessed by the PSB.
"The officer was suspended due to the seriousness of the allegations," he said. "The matter was passed to the PSB but they advised this [its contents] did not meet the criteria for recording an official complaint."