Northern Ireland

Sean Paul Race: Ex-police officer jailed for drug dealing

Laganside courts
Image caption A defence barrister told Belfast Crown Court that his client could not deal with the stresses of his police job, which included a paramilitary death threat

An off-duty police officer who admitted drug dealing after he was caught with 100 Ecstasy tablets in an undercover PSNI operation has been sent to jail.

Sean Paul Race, from Comber, County Down, had been a serving PSNI officer for 10 years when he was arrested in possession of the drugs in 2013.

The 31 year old resigned after his arrest and pleaded guilty to possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply.

He will spend 21 months in prison and a further 21 on licensed release.

'No comment'

Belfast Crown Court was told that Race was off-duty when he was stopped by two police officers at the junction of Agincourt Avenue and Rugby Road in south Belfast on 3 July, 2013.

A prosecution barrister said: "He was placed under control and during a search of his person a money bag containing small blue tablets was found in his right trouser pocket. These tablets were examined and found to be 100 Ecstasy tablets."

When he was questioned about the drugs at Antrim police station, Race replied "no comment" during his interview.

Two months later, Race was interviewed again and this time he read a prepared statement claiming that he found the drugs after they were "thrown away a hedge" and had intended to hand them over to police.

He claimed that he had been "set up" by the PSNI and said it was a case of "entrapment".

A prosecution barrister said the off-duty officer "had been under observation by a surveillance team" at the time.

Police observed him walking to the Stranmillis Road and driving off in a car registered to an address in Magdala Street.

'Public trust'

At the time of the arrest, police seized mobile phones belonging to Race and the car driver. Two months later, more drugs were seized during a search of the Magdala Street house.

The prosecution barrister said that although Race was not on duty at the time of the offence, he was a "serving police officer" and with that came the public trust in a public servant to "carry out his duties with integrity both in work life but also in private life too".

A defence barrister told the court his client could not deal with the stresses of his police job, which included a paramilitary death threat.

He told the court that Race had abused alcohol and drugs to cope with his "chaotic life".

He said his client had lost his good name and lost his new job in Dublin as a result of his guilty plea.

However, the judge rejected the former officer's request to be spared jail, saying that he had initially given a "no comment" interview and only pleaded guilty close to the start of his trial.

"In his letter to me he expresses the hope not to receive a custodial sentence," the judge said.

"Unfortunately, Mr Race, I have concluded there are no exceptional circumstances. You will serve 21 months in custody followed by 21 months on supervised licence."

As the sentence was passed, Race stood with his head bowed before he was led away in handcuffs by a prison guard.