Met Police officer jailed for stealing money from Heathrow passengers

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A financial investigator working at London Heathrow has today been jailed for four-and-a-half years after stealing thousands of pounds in cash seized from passengers.

Metropolitan Police Detective Sergeant Michael Harrington, 58, worked at Heathrow airport and was tasked with undertaking financial investigations and seizing unauthorised cash from passengers travelling in and out of the country.

It is estimated he stole between £75,000 and £83,000 from 16 victims over five years in his role.

In some instances Harrington seized cash from victims and then falsely recorded that it had been given back after it was found to be lawful money. In others he recorded the amounts seized to be less than they actually were, stealing whole sums in the process.

Two victims suffered financial loss when attending weddings abroad without the money they had planned to take with them. On one occasion Harrington denied a victim the opportunity to have an interpreter present when confiscating legitimate money.

He was caught when victims started to contact police about getting back the money seized. That investigation led the police to Harrington.

Harrington had previously failed to turn up to an earlier sentencing hearing, prompting a warrant to be issued for his arrest. Today, [Wednesday, 28 February] he was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for 16 counts of theft at Southwark Crown Court.

Riaz Jakhura, from the CPS, said:

“Harrington took advantage of a number of passengers including foreign nationals making their way through Heathrow airport. He abused his position as a financial investigator for the police, contributing to significant stress and financial hardship for some of his victims.

“He called victims into the police station to discuss his fabricated plans to get their money back – even telling one that he would have to wait up to three years. When under pressure he also paid money back to a victim from his own bank account, and attempted to make the transfer look like it came from an official Metropolitan Police Service bank account.

“A number of empty evidence bags used to seize money from passengers passing through Heathrow airport were also found at his home address. The overwhelming evidence against Harrington meant that he had no choice but to admit his crimes.”

Harrington is now the subject of confiscation proceedings.

Notes to editors

  • Michael Harrington [DOB: 23/6/59] had been suspended from the Met Police pending the completion of the court case.
  • He pleaded guilty to 16 counts of theft on 17 October, 2017 before a jury had been sworn in for his trial.
  • The offences took place between July 2009 and July 2015.
  • Riaz Jakhura is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the Complex Casework unit in CPS London South.

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