Norfolk

Former Norfolk policeman jailed over £1m fraud

Ben Staff Image copyright Archant
Image caption Former police officer Ben Staff used his connections to defraud business clients of £1m

A former police officer who conned business associates and the taxman out of £1m has been jailed for four and a half years.

Ben Staff, 35, resigned from Norfolk Police in 2008 but used his connections to gain his victims' trust, Norwich Crown Court heard.

He then used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Sentencing Staff, Judge Mark Dennis QC described his actions as "thoroughly dishonest conduct".

Staff, of Lucas Court, Norwich, bought cars and holidays, renovated his home and paid for his wedding.

The court heard how he directed payments intended for his building and development companies into his personal accounts, gave creditors cheques that bounced and fraudulently claimed VAT refunds.

'Sophisticated' fraud

Staff was found guilty of eight fraud-related charges at two previous trials.

His wife, Catriona Staff, 33, also a police officer, was also charged in both trials but cleared on all counts.

She now faces internal disciplinary procedures.

Judge Dennis said Staff had "continually fobbed people off".

"You were dealing with honest and hardworking individuals who were acting in the same difficult financial climate that you faced," he told him.

"You slipped into a selfish habit of dishonesty which became your default position."

David Wilson, prosecuting, said it was "sophisticated" fraud and that Staff attempted to blame professionals such as accountants.

Judge Dennis disqualified Staff from holding a directorship for 10 years. A proceeds of crime hearing will take place at a later date.

Amiot Vollenweider, mitigating, told Judge Dennis that prison would be "tougher" for former police officer Staff than for most people.

The judge said: "A former policeman should have known better."

Image caption A second trial at Norwich Crown Court saw ex-police officer Ben Staff convicted of conning business associates of £1m to fund his excessive lifestyle

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