Bristol policeman Michael Purnell sentenced for theft

A Bristol police officer who stole property handed to him while he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder has avoided jail.

Gloucester Crown Court heard Michael Purnell had attended the scene of a triple shooting in Easton and went to a fatal stabbing a few days later.

Purnell was investigated by the force after colleagues raised concerns about his behaviour.

He pleaded guilty to stealing a wallet and was given a suspended jail term.

The 26-week sentence was suspended for 15 months. Purnell must also carry out 200 hours unpaid work.

He was suspended from Avon and Somerset Police and has now left the force.

Avon and Somerset Police said the sentencing was the culmination of a year-long investigation.

'Tarnished reputation'

A spokesman said Purnell was a constable based at Trinity Road Police Station where his colleagues became concerned property was going missing.

These concerns were reported to senior officers and an investigation was launched by the force's professional standards department.

During the course of the investigation it was found that property handed to Purnell went missing and was later found at his home address.

Supt Ian Wylie, head of professional standards, said: "In committing theft, he has tarnished the reputation of the police service and his colleagues who are honest, hard-working and committed to protecting our communities.

"It was his colleagues who reported his behaviour and I commend them for rightly bringing this matter to my attention. They reflect the professionalism of police officers and staff throughout the organisation.

"We expect the highest standards of professionalism and behaviour from all our staff."

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