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6 May 2014, 14:22
A senior police officer has been condemned by a judge for bringing "shame'' on the police service as he jailed her for two-and-a-half years for an "extensive range of petty retail frauds'' targeting a number of high street stores.
Tanya Brookes was a chief inspector at Surrey Police when she carried out the scams, netting more than £11,000 against several household names including The White Company, Micro Scooters and Boots.
Sentencing the 46-year-old at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Andrew Barnett said: "The most significant factor of this tragic case is that you were a chief inspector of police in the Surrey constabulary, that factor is one which cannot and should not be ignored by the courts.
"By your criminal activities, you have disgraced the uniform you once wore, you have brought shame on the force that you once served and you will have tarnished the reputation of the police service.
"Therefore in this day and age, this is something that should not be disregarded, it's a serious aggravating feature, and taken with the persistent nature of our criminality, the sentence I must pass must make an example of you to others that this kind of behaviour by police officers is thoroughly disapproved of by the courts and by society.
"The tragedy of this case is how you were hitherto of good character, the mother of four children and who will suffer inevitably by what I have to do to you.''
He added: "Throughout your life you showed great talent and indeed great concern for others, you are a highly talented woman, a highly intelligent woman which on many occasions you put those talents to good use in helping others, in helping support of various concerns you were involved in, school, churches and other voluntary organisations.''
The mother-of-four, who worked under her maiden name of Sillett, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to five charges of fraud by false representation and three of making an article used in fraud.
A further five offences which she denied were ordered to lie on file. A further two charges of acting with intent to prejudice/defraud HM Revenue and Customs which were due to be heard at a third trial will also now lie on file.
Brookes, of Nursery Road, Godalming, Surrey, was also previously found guilty following a trial of nine offences of making an article used in fraud, 14 of fraud and two of converting criminal property. She was found not guilty of a further two offences.
Nicholas Tucker, prosecuting, said at the start of the first trial how Brookes, who was also married to another senior police officer, David, had joined the Surrey force as a university graduate and he described her as a "high-flyer''.
He said that it was as she was about to mark her 20 years' service in July 2011 that she became the subject of an investigation by her own force.
The court was told that Mr Brookes had also lost his job as a superintendent as a result of the case.
Nicholas Yeo, defending, said that Brookes had suffered a brain injury prior to her offending and a psychiatric assessment had suggested this might have affected her behaviour and ability to make appropriate judgments.
But he added: "Mrs Brookes, in her role as a senior police officer, should have known better and should have set an example.''
He said that the offences had led to both her and her husband losing their careers as well as her probably losing her pension.
He continued: "She has, in a very real sense, thrown it all away.''
Mr Yeo added: "She was so harrowed by the investigation that she has ended up with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.''
He said that a member of the public had also leafleted the area around her home raising awareness of the court proceedings against her. Mr Yeo said that someone had been arrested in connection with this.