An “embarrassed” cop accused of deliberately paying only 7p for a 9. 9.9 box of donuts defended himself, saying it was an “honest mistake.”
PC Simon Reed (3,) has been accused of using self-service scales to weigh a bag of carrots and then using their stickers on cardboard trays with treats.
At the start of his misconduct hearing on Wednesday, PC Reed claimed that he did not scan the deliberately incorrect bar code in the donuts box when he visited Tesco Extra in Cambridgeshire Wisbech on 10 February.
Officers on duty and in uniform at the time of the incident claimed it was an “honest mistake” to be born with “human error.”
He said he placed the white barcode sticker for carrots next to the donut box to free his hands – and tried to scan the box twice to scan the two barcodes.
But the second time the officer tried to scan the box – to register £ 9.95 for donuts – until he failed to scan the self-service code, and he didn’t understand.
He claims that he put the box of donuts in the bagging bag believing that it had been scanned and then proceeded to pay for his shopping without paying attention to the total price of the screen.
PC Reed told the panel: “I had absolutely no intention of stealing the box of donuts.
“I’m terrified of being in the situation I’m in today and I’m embarrassed because it’s not something I would normally do.
“I wasted everyone’s time staying here today. I caused a lot of stress to myself and my family, a lot of heartache.
“It’s been nine long months since I was supposed to work.”
After opening the hearing, Barrister Mark Lee-Morgan said that PC Reed had accepted all the other alleged facts about his activities at the Tesco Extra Store that day.
He said: “The only thing that matters is the state of mind of the officer.
“Did he plan to scan the bar code for carrots, or did he make an honest mistake as he said and wanted to scan the bar code for donuts?”
The panel showed CCTV footage of PC Reed’s movements at the Testor store that day, shortly before he entered the store just before 11.30am.
He was seen picking a box of a dozen crispy cream donuts, before touring the fruit and veggie section, selecting two carrots and placing them in a small, white crispy cream bag.
PC Reed then printed a barcode sticker for the carrot, which he held in his right hand.
He was then captured on camera and moved to the store’s sandwich and food deal section, where he selected a sandwich and a drink.
While the camera was off, PC Reed placed the carrot barcode sticker in a box of creamy donuts to free his right hand to pick up a sandwich and drink.
He told the panel that the carrot was bought for one of his colleagues at Wisbech police station as part of an ongoing joke between the two of them.
He said: “I put carrots in Christy’s cream bag to disguise the contents of the bag as part of a joke.
“Similarly, I didn’t want to put a sticker on the bag and effectively put what was inside the signpost, and so I’ll leave this joke.”
After sorting out all his items, PC Reed contacted self-service calls at 11:30 a.m. and began scanning what he was carrying.
CCTV footage shows him carrot barcodes – first placed next to a creepy cream box and leaving a bag of carrots in place of the baggage.
He then scanned the sandwich and drink before finally appearing before trying to scan the box of donuts again to pay for twelve sweet treats.
However, CCTV shows that he kept the box in the metal until he reached inside his left pocket, where he kept his mobile phone.
PC Reed said: “I can’t remember why I did it. I just felt the vibration and I wanted to see if I wanted to see it, or if there was any text that could be seen later.”
He then placed the box of donuts in the bagging area and proceeded to the stage of paying for his purchase.
He said: “I did not check the screen to see if the donuts were scanned.
“I hope I’d do it now. I hope it was a normal experience otherwise – I would go to the store and scan things and then pay more.”
PC Reed added that he didn’t pay attention to the total amount of screens – which ended up falling to just 4 4, compared to £ 14.
He said: “I don’t think I need to check the price, because I was subconsciously aware that the transaction was running out of communication payments.
“I’m not suggesting that the price wasn’t on the screen. I just didn’t look because I was following instructions on how to pay.”
PC Reed added that a receipt is automatically printed after he delivers it and he takes it with him – but he believes that on the way out of the store, or very soon, he formatted it.
He said: “I had no reason to look at the receipt before it was dropped.
“I then returned to Wisbech police station and took the carrot to the sergeant’s office and handed over the bag of carrots.
“We got smiles about it, he said some desirable things and I left his office, all smiles and laughter.”
The hearing is ongoing.