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'No malicious intent': Christopher Bergroth was given a 15-month community based order for impersonating a police officer. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

An 18-year-old man who stole police clothing and pretended to be an officer has been given a 15-month community based order after the court was told he had been living out his boyhood dream of being a policeman.

Christopher Peter Michael Bergroth pleaded guilty to 38 offences after he was arrested and charged when confronted by police suspicious about his activities during a police station visit while impersonating an officer.

The court was told that on one occasion, Bergroth avoided a speeding fine by claiming to be a tactical response group police officer rushing to a job.

Today, the prosecution accepted that there had been no malicious intent by Bergroth and that he had been motivated by a genuine desire to be a police officer.

Bergroth's friend was investigated but has resigned from WA Police and no charges were laid against him.

Defence lawyer Michael Clarke outlined how his young client had feared his chances of being an officer and serving the community had been ruined after a foot injury in his high school years.

It was through a former boy scout friend who was working as an unsworn officer that Bergroth gained access to Police Headquarters in the city in April and was able to steal police uniforms destined for disposal.

Today, the Magistrates Court heard that he had gone on to visit a number of restricted areas in a string of police properties, including the East Perth watch house and Curtin House, after other officers believed he was an officer.

Over the next seven weeks he had impersonated an officer, gained access to restricted areas and stolen more items including handcuffs, a baton, access card and fuel card.

On one occasion while driving his own car, Bergroth had stopped at a car crash, offered first aid and taken witness statements which he later handed to police.

Mr Clarke told the court that while the offences were serious his client was a "benign threat" and it could be said that his actions had the "silver lining" of revealing flaws in police security.

Outside court, Mr Clarke had said it was fortunate his client was motivated by an honest desire to be a policeman after an accident he suffered while doing church volunteer work left him with an ankle injury.

It was after his first visit to the police watch house that Bergroth had found himself on a "slippery slope" and not thinking of the consequences.

"I think he got a lot of self esteem from it and thought he was gaining the respect of others," Mr Clarke said.

The lawyer said his client was "crushed" by the realisation he could never be an officer as a result of his crimes and was looking at joining the defence force.

Magistrate Greg Smith gave Bergroth, who had no prior convictions and had cooperated with police, a 15-month community based order and fines totalling about $2000.

Outside court, prosecutor Brent Meertens said the prosecution believed the penalty was appropriate that, fortunately, the Police had been able to some positives from the incident that resulted in a tightening of security.

Bergroth thanked his family and friends for their support.

The West Australian

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