An “embarrassed” cop accused of intentionally paying 7p for £ 9.95 of donuts defended himself saying it was a “flat mistake”.
PC Simon Read, 37, is accused of using self-service scales to weigh a bag of carrots and then using his label on a cardboard tray containing the rewards.
But at the opening of the misconduct hearing on Wednesday, PC Read claimed that it had not intentionally scanned the wrong barcode on the muffin box while at Tesco Extra in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire on February 10.
The officer – who was in service and in uniform at the time of the accident – claimed that this was an “explicit mistake”, resulting from “human error.”
He stated that he placed a white carrot barcode sticker on the side of the muffin box in order to free his hand – and tried scanning the box twice to scan both barcodes.
But the second time the officer attempted to scan the box – to record £ 9.95 for a donut – the self-service failed to scan the code, not realizing it.
He claims to have put the muffin tray in the packing area, thinking it was scanned, and then proceeded to pay for the shopping – without paying heed to the total price on the screen.
PC Read told the panel, “I never intended to steal this cookie box.
“I feel terrible to be in the situation I am in today, and I feel embarrassed that this is not something I would normally have done.
“I wasted everyone’s time being here today. It caused a lot of stress to myself and my family, and a lot of heartache.
“It was nine long months not working when I should have been.”
At the opening of the hearing, attorney Mark Lee Morgan said PC Read accepted all other alleged facts contained in connection with its actions in the Tesco Extra store that day.
He said: The only issue is the state of mind of the officer.
“Was he intending to scan the carrot barcode, or was he making an explicit mistake, he says, and was intending to scan the barcode for cakes?”
CCTV footage of PC Read’s moves was shown on the board that day, since it entered the store just before 11:30 am.
He is seen picking a box of ten donuts from Krispy Kreme, before walking to the fruit and vegetable section, picking two carrots, and placing them in a small white bag of Krispy Kreme.
PC Read then printed out the carrot’s barcode label, which he held in his right hand.
He then moved from the camera shot to the sandwiches and meal deals section of the store, where he picked a sandwich and a drink.
At some point while exiting the camera, PC Read placed the carrot’s barcode sticker on a box of Krispy Kreme cookies, freeing his right hand to choose a sandwich and drink.
He told the committee that the islands were bought for a Wisbech police station colleague, as part of an ongoing joke between the two.
He said, “I put carrots in a Krispy Kreme bag to hide the fact that the bag’s contents were part of a joke.
“In the same way, I did not want to put the sticker on the bag and mark what was inside, thus abandoning the muzzle.”
After picking all of his items, PC Read approached self-service until 11:30 a.m. and began to scan what it was carrying.
CCTV footage shows him wiping the carrot barcode – the affixed to the side of Krispy Kreme’s box – first, and placing the carrot bag in the packing area.
Then he checks the sandwich and the drink, before it looks like he’s finally trying to clear the donut box again, to pay for the twelve desserts.
However, surveillance cameras show him placing the box on the metal until it reaches his left pocket, where he keeps his mobile phone, he said.
PC Read said: “I can’t remember why I did it. I can just suggest I felt it vibrate, and I wanted to check if it was a call, or if it’s a text I can look at later.”
Then put the cake box in the packing area, and go to the shopping checkout stage.
He said, “I did not check the screen to see if the cakes were scanned.
“I wish I did now. I wish I had paid more attention to what was a normal experience – going into the store, clearing items, then paying.”
PC Read also said it didn’t pay attention to the total amount on display – which ended up reading just over £ 4, as opposed to just over £ 14.
He said, “I didn’t feel I needed to verify the price, because I was subconsciously aware of the fact that the transaction would be within the contactless payment threshold.
“I’m not suggesting the price wasn’t on the screen. I simply didn’t look, because I was following the instructions on how to pay.”
PC Read added that the receipt was printed automatically after he paid, and he took it with him – but he thinks he threw it out on his way out of the store, or shortly thereafter.
He said, “I have no reason to look at the receipt before dumping it.
“ Then I went back to Wisbech Police Station, took the carrots to the Sgt’s office, and turned over the bag of carrots.
“We laughed at it, he said some select words, and I left his office, all smiles and laughter.”
The session continues.