Barnsley police officer found guilty of criminal damage

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A South Yorkshire Police sergeant has been found guilty of criminal damage - after taking a wind chime from his neighbour’s garden and putting it on a bonfire.

Sgt Paul Duke, aged 45, denied the offence but was found guilty after a trial at Doncaster Magistrates’ court.

He was accused of removing the metal chime from his neighbour Edmund Looby’s garden in Park Road, Barnsley, and setting fire to it.

Sgt Duke, based at Barnsley’s custody suite, denied the allegation but was convicted on Wednesday and handed a 12 month conditional discharge.

He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £620 and £16.99 in compensation to Mr Looby to replace his chime.

Mr Looby believes Sgt Duke struck after being challenged about the number of bonfires he has in his garden.

The officer is to be the subject of an internal South Yorkshire Police ‘misconduct’ inquiry.

Bosses are deciding whether he should be allowed to continue working during the probe.

Detective Supt Terry Mann, head of the force’s Professional Standards Department, said: “Members of the public quite rightly expect higher standards and behaviour from our officers and staff and anyone who is found to have fallen short of those standards by committing a crime will be thoroughly investigated and put before the courts.

“The force expects its staff to act with integrity and professionalism to ensure people receive a high quality service and have a police service they can be proud of.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Paul Duke, 45, was reported for summons following a complaint from a member of the public that a wind chime was damaged on March 3.

“The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and returned to the force for a local misconduct investigation, which will be carried out by the force’s Professional Standards Department now that criminal proceedings have concluded.

“Duke was found guilty and was handed a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £620 costs, £16.99 compensation and a £15 victim surcharge.

“Duke was previously based in the custody suite in Barnsley. It is currently being considered whether he will work for the force while the internal misconduct investigation is carried out.”