Ex-PSNI officer sentenced over £52k theft

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A policeman who pocketed over £52,000 of warrant money from a Belfast PSNI station has been spared jail, after he received a suspended sentence on Friday.

Passing sentence at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Gordon Kerr said that former officer Bryan Thomas Stronge had lost his job, his relationship and his reputation as a result of his criminality, and that he had “disgraced himself.”

The 54-year old, from Coastguard Lane in Groomsport, was handed an 18-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years, after it emerged he has paid back all the money he stole.

Citing Stronge’s offending as a “serious breach of trust”, Judge Kerr QC said the money was stolen for Stronge’s own benefit, adding the father of two had an “inability to manage money”.

Stronge was due to be sentenced for the theft of £52,878.63 warrant money last December. However, sentencing was deferred for six months to allow Stronge to pay back the money he stole - which he has now done.

At the previous hearing at Belfast Crown Court last December, Judge Kerr was told that the offending was committed over a sustained period from November 2009 to February 2012.

Stronge - who at the time of the offending was Station Constable at Tennant Street police station - would take warrant money from the safe and “treat it as his own”.

Stronge started his police career in 1987, but in the latter years he was assigned as Station Constable at Tennant Street due to a traffic accident.

Despite his initial denials, Stronge subsequently pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft.

A defence barrister said that, prior to his offending, Stronge was an officer of “considerable experience and lengthy service” who was just two years from retirement which would have included a £100,000 lump sum plus a full pension – both of which have been subsequently cut due to the theft.