A gambling addict who faked his wife’s signature to obtain tens of thousands of pounds while he worked as a Norfolk police officer had today been jailed.
Christopher Hawkins, 47, who now lives in Dorchester Road, Bury St Edmunds, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court after pleading guilty to four offences of fraud committed between January 2007 and August 2013.
The court heard how Hawkins had added £72,999 to the mortgage of the home he shared with his police inspector wife Samantha without her knowledge, withdrawing the money from their joint bank account to finance his gambling habit.
Prosecuting, Andrew Shaw said Hawkins had faked his wife’s signature to obtain the money from the Alliance and Leicester, now Santander bank.
Hawkins also forged his wife’s signature to cash in an endowment policy with Prudential Assurance for £13,128 which had been intended to help pay off the £140,000 mortgage the couple held.
The result of Hawkins offending had been to leave his wife owing Santander £60,000 which she was unable to pay at present and which may possibly result in her and the couple’s two children having to move out and being left with only £120,000, said Mr Shaw.
The court was told that money tied up in Hawkins police pension scheme would not be available to help his wife clear the debt until 2030.
The frauds, which only came to light when Mrs Hawkins checked bank statements normally managed by her husband, had had a ‘high impact’ on her, leaving her
unable to obtain a new mortgage.
Defending, Charles Myatt said Hawkins, who at the time of the offences had been going through an ‘acrimonious’ divorce, had expressed genuine remorse.
Hawkins had become addicted to gambling which had ‘grown out of control’ and was out of character.
He had since sought help and was unlikely to offend again, said Mr Myatt.
Jailing him for a total of two years, Judge John Devaux said that because of the extent of the frauds and the breach of trust involved it was not possible to impose a suspended sentence.
Commenting on the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Gary Lillie, of Norfolk and Suffolk’s Anti-Corruption Unit, said: “We expect the highest level of personal and professional behaviour from those serving with us.
“This result highlights how important it is for the forces to continue to robustly investigate any allegations of criminal conduct made against its employees or former employees.”
“The fact that Hawkins had deceived those who should have been able to trust him the most and who have particularly suffered via his actions is equally unacceptable.”
Hawkins served as an officer with Norfolk Police from December 1989 to October 2014 and was dismissed from the force following his 2014 conviction after an internal disciplinary process with the Professional Standards Department.