'Shameful': Hackney police officer abused the trust placed in him to steal £11,000 from dead people
PUBLISHED: 12:44 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:44 05 December 2019
Police chiefs have expressed their horror that a "trusted" police officer plundered thousands of pounds from the homes of the recently deceased.
Graeme "Taff" Williams, 66, was a long-standing sudden death co-ordinator in Hackney, tasked with cataloguing and looking after cash and property until the rightful heirs could be identified.
He even continued the role - which granted him full control over all cash and property recovered - as a volunteer after his retirement six years ago.
But rather than safeguarding the property, Williams, of Morpeth Avenue, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, stole more than £11,000 from the estates of three people from 2012 to 2015.
He took cash from two estates and expensive furniture, electrical goods and artwork were taken from a third home when the grieving family believed it was heading to a homeless charity.
In one instance officers collected £40,835 in cash from the house of an elderly man who had to be moved into a care home in July 2012. Police records showed Williams signed out the money from the superintendent's safe to "bank it". But rather than putting all the money into an account he later sent an email to Hackney Council claiming just £35,835 had been recovered.
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Williams, who served for 26 years within the Met was found guilty of theft on Tuesday following a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Det Const Matt Wigg, of the specialist crime unit which led the investigation, said: "It beggars belief that someone who was trusted both as a police officer and a volunteer should behave so disgracefully.
"To steal from the dead is shameful and we have been horrified to discover that families who had already been bereaved have suddenly been made to suffer further because of Williams's actions."
Det Ch Supt Marcus Barnett, the borough commander for Hackney and Tower Hamlets, apologised to the families affected.
"It is disgraceful they have suffered further distress at a time when they were mourning their loved ones," he said.
"I have been appalled to learn that Williams, tasked with such a sensitive role, took advantage of the trust placed in him and abused it for his own financial gain.
"My dismay is shared by the many officers and staff who worked with him over the years and are equally aghast that he could have been so deceitful."
Williams will be sentenced in January.