Belfast Telegraph

Police pension of disgraced cop who stole £53k from station to be docked

By Deborah McAleese

A rogue police officer who stole almost £53,000 of court warrant money is to have thousands of pounds docked from his PSNI pension.

A judge gave sacked constable Bryan Thomas Stronge until next month to pay back the thousands of pounds he took from the Belfast police station where he was based.

Stronge had hoped to sell his house and cash in part of his pension to pay back the money and avoid a stiff sentence in the process.

However, because of his criminal conviction the Northern Ireland Policing Board has been asked by both the PSNI and the Department of Justice to decide how much of his pension Stronge should forfeit. The 53-year-old is to plead his case to the Policing Board's performance committee, which is currently considering the level of forfeiture.

A decision will not be made before the April 8 court deadline Stronge was given to pay back the stolen money.

Board members are split over the amount of money that should be docked.

Some of the panel believe that officers found guilty of serious misconduct should not be entitled to any of their "gold-plated" pensions. However, others hold the position that offenders should be entitled to the amount accrued up until the date they committed their crimes.

In January Belfast Crown Court Judge Gordon Kerr QC gave Stronge until April to pay back the stolen £52,878.63 before he decided on a sentence.

Stronge, who joined the police in 1987, was assigned as station constable at Tennent Street in Belfast when he stole the warrant money from a safe over a 27-month period.

Part of his job was dealing with money warrants paid by defendants. This involved the police officer who had executed the warrant issuing a receipt to the defendant and placing the warrant and money in a safe at the station. It was then paid to the Court Service.

Stronge's offending began to emerge in May 2011 when it was realised that two warrants had been paid but the money had not been received by the Court Service.

An investigation found 374 outstanding warrants from November 2009 to February 2012, amounting to almost £53,000.

A defence barrister told Belfast Crown Court that Stronge's offending was because of "crippling debts", and the immediate access to the money "was a temptation too much".

Stronge is on bail awaiting sentencing next month.

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