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Gambling turned cop to crime

PUBLISHED: 15:36 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:38 23 August 2010

JAILED: Zak Owen.

JAILED: Zak Owen.

A POLICEMAN who swindled people out of thousands of pounds to fuel a gambling addiction has been jailed for seven years. Zak Owen, of Highgrove Road, Chatham, a former custody sergeant at Gravesend police station, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court l

A POLICEMAN who swindled people out of thousands of pounds to fuel a gambling addiction has been jailed for seven years.

Zak Owen, of Highgrove Road, Chatham, a former custody sergeant at Gravesend police station, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court last Friday after admitting theft, fraud, false imprisonment, misconduct in a public office and possession of a firearm.

When delivering the sentence Judge Philip Statman told Owen: "We expect very high standards from our police force. When the trust is broken between a serving police officer and the public, as occurred in this case, an exemplary sentence is called for."

The court heard how Owen had abused his position by copying the credit card details of 15 people who were in custody and went on to use the information to order goods worth more than £3,000 on the internet.

Harriet Bathurst-Norman, defending, said Owen had became increasingly desperate for money to fund his gambling habit and turned to crime after losing all of his earnings, pawning his mother's jewellery and remortgaging his home.

The 37-year-old also placed an advert on eBay for a car he claimed to be selling and met buyers dressed in his police uniform.

He searched his victims, stole the cash they had brought with them and left saying the car had been in an accident.

One victim, Sarah Pring, was six months pregnant when he stole £3,000 from her and had to have medical treatment after the stress from the ordeal raised her blood pressure.

She told officers: "I feel totally let down by this. This just makes it worse knowing he was a real policeman."

In similar incident Owen trapped three men who had come to buy the car in their own vehicle, threatened them with his police-issued stunspray and made off with £4,790.

Owen was suspended from operational duties after his arrest in August last year and was dismissed from Kent Police in November.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Harris of Kent Police said: "In targeting his victims, Mr Owen displayed a ruthless attitude with no consideration for their circumstances.

"Kent Police takes pride in the welfare and support services we offer staff and officers. When a problem has been identified we will do our best to work with the person to assist them in overcoming any issues they may have.

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