Dorset Police officer faked injury to claim £150k – but was caught walking dog

A former Dorset Police officer who faked an injury so he could claim £150,000 of his salary has been found guilty of gross misconduct.
For more than two years, PC Matthew Littlefair from Alderholt, Hampshire, claimed full pay and other benefits while “putting on an act” that he was so badly hurt he “couldn’t even lift a kettle” following a minor car crash.
But the former officer was caught out, after an app on his mobile phone showed he had been walking 10,000 steps a day.
His colleagues became suspicious after spotting him out playing football with his children, walking his dog, going jogging and riding bikes.
When investigators examined his phone they found he had repeatedly been recorded walking the equivalent of five miles a day – while claiming he was not able to work.
Jailing the 36-year-old for two years and three months, a judge condemned Littlefair for his “arrogance” and said his crime would damage public confidence in the police, comparing it to to the murder and rape of Sarah Everard by Metropolitan officer Wayne Couzens.
The case had come “during one of the worst years in recent policing history,” Judge Robert Pawson said.
Littlefair – who arrived at Salisbury Crown Court, Wiltshire, in a wheelchair – admitted a single charge of fraud by false representation.
Prosecutor Robin Leach told the court Littlefair had been a police officer since 2008, transferring to Dorset Police from Avon and Somerset Police in 2016.
However, while he was off duty in October 2017, Littlefair was in a car crash described in court as a “rear end shunt”. Despite the relatively minor collision, the PC took himself to hospital complaining of pain and whiplash, the court heard.
Upon release from hospital he reported himself sick and unfit for duty.
When Dorset Police offered him reduced hours and the chance to work from home, Littlefair refused, complaining “he was in such severe pain he couldn’t carry out his tasks”.
He was eventually offered ill health early retirement in September 2019 when the force judged he would never be able to fully return to the job. But instead of accepting this payout he appealed, claiming “his pain was so serious that he wouldn’t be able to be employed ever again”.
Mr Leach said: “He complained of lasting injuries, chronic pain in most parts of his body and constant right knee pain so bad his knee could give way on him at any moment.”
In total while on sick leave he fraudulently claimed about £150,000 in wages, tax contributions and pension costs, the court heard.
But Dorset Police eventually became suspicious of the length of his enforced absence.
In April and May 2020 a covert investigation was launched by Dorset Police’s Counter Corruption Unit, supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Among other activities, surveillance officers caught Littlefair playing football with his children at their home in Alderholt, Hampshire, the court heard.
Mr Leach said: “He was seen on one occasion pushing his children on a rope swing and playing football with them.
“A health application on his phone showed how many steps he had taken over 36 days… his phone recorded over 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent of five miles a day.”
He was even seen exercising the same day he was visited by the professional standards department, who he told there was “no change” in his condition and said he ‘couldn’t even pick up a kettle’.
Examination of his phone showed he was “living a normal life” and had attended a rugby game as well as swinging an axe in his back garden.
When Littlefair was interviewed by police, he said he was able to exercise because he had been taking excess quantities of painkillers. However, officers found four unopened bags of prescription drugs which had not been used while blood tests revealed no trace of the medication in his system.
The PC was suspended by the force in May 2020 and pleaded guilty to fraud in August of the same year.
The court heard doctors have diagnosed him with depression and a condition called Functional Neurological Disorder, which is why he requires a wheelchair.
Luke Ponte, defending, said it was a “tragedy that such a man, a man with such potential, a good and loving husband and father, has by his own actions placed himself where he is now”.
“He expresses remorse for what he did and he in particular is sorry to have diminished the police in the eyes of the public.”
Jailing him, Judge Pawson said the fact Littlefair was a serving police officer was an aggravating factor.
“This case is during one of the worst years in recent policing history.
“This year there has been a police officer dealt with for kidnap, rape and murder… two others this week were dealt with for taking photographs of a dead body and now this case – it’s of a far less offence – but it will affect public confidence in the police service.
‘We will take action against officers who act dishonestly’
“He is a good man who made a catastrophic mistake… but unlike some catastrophic mistakes made by people it was a catastrophic mistake that he prolonged.”
Littlefair – who was accompanied to court by family members, was jailed for two years and three months and a proceeds of crime hearing will deal with repayments of the fraudulently obtained £149,764. He’s also been banned from working for the police, being added to the barred list administered by the College of Policing.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Lyne said: “Members of the public quite rightly expect our officers to operate with the highest levels of honesty and integrity and the actions of former PC Littlefair clearly fell well below those standards.
“It is disappointing to see an officer dishonestly claiming to be unfit for work, claiming his publicly funded salary and undermining the confidence of the public through his actions.
“I hope this case does demonstrates that, through our Counter Corruption Unit and Professional Standards Department, we will take action against officers who act dishonestly and where appropriate they will not only face internal disciplinary proceedings but also criminal prosecution.
“This behaviour is not indicative of the overwhelming majority of our staff and teams out delivering quality policing day to day and there is no place in Dorset Police for this dishonest behaviour.
“If you have any concerns in respect of any member of the organisation, we encourage you to report them to Dorset Police so they can be thoroughly investigated.”

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