A police officer who scanned a barcode for 7-pence (0.13 Australian cents) carrots instead of the £9.95 (about AU$16) barcode for Krispy Kreme donuts he was buying for colleagues has said it was an honest mistake.
Police Constable Simon Read told a misconduct hearing he did not realise he scanned the carrot barcode twice at the self-service checkout at a Tesco Extra in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, on February 10 this year.
He accepted he failed to scan the barcode for the box of 12 donuts while purchasing four items about 11.30am (local time) – the donuts, carrots, a sandwich and a drink – but said this was not done on purpose.
The donuts were scanned in at the price of seven pence, the Metro reported.
PC Read was on duty and in uniform at the time.
Asked if he intended to steal the donuts, he told Wednesday’s hearing at the East of England Showground in Peterborough: “Absolutely not, and I’m horrified we’re in this situation here today.”
The Cambridgeshire police officer, who joined the force in January of this year, said he was buying the sweet treats for colleagues as a “cake fine”.
“Cake fines are fairly common in the police,” he said.
“It’s a way of being punished in a light-hearted way.”
PC Read said people could be given a “cake fine” if they were having a bad day, or if they were joining or leaving a department.
The officer said he was buying the carrots for his sergeant who was on a diet and he thought it “would be funny” for them to be in a Krispy Kreme paper bag.
He said he stuck the carrots barcode onto the donut tray as it would have spoiled the joke if he stuck it on the paper bag.
“I simply scanned where I believed the barcodes were and placed them down (in the bagging area),” he said.
“I didn’t check the screen.
“I wish I had have done.
“I wish I had paid more attention to what was an ordinary experience – going to the shop, scanning some items and paying.”
PC Read said he felt “embarrassed” by what happened.
“This has been a very long and lengthy nine months, not being at work when I should be,” he added.
The officer said he took a receipt but did not look at it, adding: “I had no cause to.”
Lawyer Mark Ley-Morgan, putting the misconduct case, said: “He’s maintained from the outset this is all a horrible mistake, of him failing to pay attention while scanning his items.
“We say this is very unlikely to be the truth.”
Mr Ley-Morgan continued: “He would have had to be standing there with his eyes closed not to see what was happening on the screen in front of him.
“You have to tap the screen.
“You have to tap to check out, you have to tap to say if you want any bags, you have to say which method of payment you choose.
“Do you do that without looking at the screen?”
He went on: “It beggars belief that he wouldn’t at some point have seen he was being charged just over £4 (AU$7), knowing some moments before he picked up an item that cost a tenner.”
PC Read joined Thames Valley Police in 2008 and was based in Reading.
He served with the Royal Signals for five-and-a-half years before joining Cambridgeshire Police.
PC Read is accused of breaching two professional standards, of discreditable conduct, and of honesty and integrity.
Sharmistha Michaels, the legally-qualified chair, adjourned proceedings for the panel to consider its findings.
The hearing will resume at 10am on Thursday.
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