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Crooked cop loses appeal

PUBLISHED: 11:11 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:58 23 August 2010

SWINDLER:  Zak Owen.

SWINDLER: Zak Owen.

A POLICE OFFICER who abused his authority to swindle people out of thousands of pounds to fuel a gambling addiction has failed to win a cut in his prison sentence. Zak Owen, 37, a former custody sergeant at Gravesend police station, was sentenced at Maid

A POLICE OFFICER who abused his authority to swindle people out of thousands of pounds to fuel a gambling addiction has failed to win a cut in his prison sentence.

Zak Owen, 37, a former custody sergeant at Gravesend police station, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court in March to seven years in prison after admitting offences of theft, misconduct in public office, fraud, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm.

Last Thursday at London's Court of Appeal, Owen's legal team challenged the sentence as "manifestly excessive."

Top judges heard that because of his former job, he had to spend almost his entire existence in prison in solitary confinement, because of fear of attack from fellow inmates.

But Mr Justice Simon, sitting with Mr Justice Penry-Davey, said that although the sentence was a "severe" one, Owen had displayed a "gross betrayal of trust."

Dressed in a police uniform, Owen, of St Peter's Street, Rochester, had taken money from people after meeting them in a remote spot when they thought they would be buying a car he had advertised on eBay. He also used details that he had obtained in his role as a custody sergeant at Gravesend to commit credit card fraud and ordered £3,000 wroth of goods on the internet.

Sentencing Owen, Judge Philip Statman told him: "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 appeal court head that Sarah Pring, who was six months pregnant when Owen stole £3,000 from her, told a victim support officer that she now found it difficult to trust the police. She also suffered complications with her pregnancy.

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

In June 2007, he stole £4,790 from Israr Shah, Syed Abbas and Ali Shah who had come to buy a car he had advertised, He detained them in their car for more than two hours and made off with the money. Mr Justice Simon said Ownen had made sure they saw his restraint spray, which led to the charge of possession of a firearm while committing the offence.

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