A man who was on a suspended sentence and who falsely identified himself as a police officer as he approached a lone female in a Barrow car park on Tuesday evening (5 Oct), saying “I’m arresting you”, has been jailed for more than five months.
Gary Shepherd, 44, of Abbey Road in Barrow, appeared before Barrow Magistrates’ Court yesterday (7th Oct), where he admitted charges of impersonating a police officer and common assault.
He was jailed for a total of 22 weeks.
The court heard how Shepherd approached the victim as she walked to her car in Greengate car park in Barrow, shortly after 6.30 pm on Tuesday evening.
He approached the woman whilst wearing a blue lanyard around his neck, with ‘POLICE’ written on the material strap.
Most plain-clothed officers will carry a covert stab vest, a radio, a warrant/ID card and will be in an unmarked police vehicle that will have a police logbook in it.
Shepherd then attempted to detain the woman, telling her, “I’m arresting you for drug dealing”.
However, the victim was unwilling to accept Shepherd’s claim to be a police officer and so approached a member of the public for help.
Together the pair challenged Shepherd, who then left the scene.
The incident sparked a police manhunt and Shepherd was arrested that night.
In his first police interview, Shepherd initially denied being in the area or committing any offences.
However, in his second interview, officers were able to show evidence he was not telling the truth, at which point Shepherd claimed his actions had been a “joke”.
Shepherd was charged on the 6th Oct and remanded to be produced at court on 7th Oct.
Magistrates invoked immediate activation of Shepherd’s four-week suspended sentence. Details of the offences which led to Shepherd being handed a suspended sentence have not been published.
For the common assault charge, he was sentenced to 18 weeks’ custodial, to run consecutively from the four weeks activation.
For the impersonating a police officer charge, he was sentenced to 18 weeks custodial, to run concurrently with the assault charge.
He was also fined £85 and ordered to pay costs of £128.
Superintendent for South Cumbria, Matt Pearman, said:
“Whilst this matter has been dealt with swiftly, it does not change the fact that this is a gravely concerning incident.
“To be approached in this way by someone falsely claiming to be a police officer must have been extremely frightening for the victim, particularly coming so soon after the sentencing of Wayne Couzens last week.
“Our officers recognised the seriousness of this incident swiftly and were able to quickly arrest Shepherd, who, less than 48 hours after the initial incident, is now starting a significant prison sentence.
“As well as thanking the victim and the eye-witness, we would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and the court for the swift manner in which the matter has been dealt with.”
The jailing of Shepherd came as Cumbria Police announced a new process for members of the public to confirm the identities of lone officers.
Officers will provide their collar number to anyone who asks and will contact the control room on the police radio to confirm their identity, location, that they are on duty and the reason they are speaking to someone.
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