Policeman paid £150k while ‘too injured to work’ caught out doing 10k steps a day on app

A policeman £150,000 while saying he was too injured to work was caught out by a phone app showing he was walking 10,000 steps a day.

Ex-PC Matthew Littlefair, 36, claimed he “couldn’t lift a kettle” after he was involved in an off-duty car crash in October 2017.

He said he was left with whiplash and back pain, Salisbury Crown Court heard.

However, he was caught cycling and walking his dog without telling his Dorset Police bosses.

Judge Robert Pawson jailed Littlefair on Wednesday for two years and three months after he admitted fraud.

He condemned Littlefair for his “arrogance” and said his crime would damage public confidence in the police.

In 2019, Littlefair was offered ill-health early retirement when the force judged he would never be able to fully return to the job.

However, he appealed the decision claiming “his pain was so serious that he wouldn’t be able to be employed ever again”.

A hearing was initially set for March 2020 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He continued to receive his full salary during this period.

Concerns about Littlefair’s claims were first brought to light in January 2020, prompting a covert investigation by Dorset Police’s Counter Corruption Unit and supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

When investigators examined his mobile found he regularly took 10,000 steps a day.

Among other activities, surveillance officers caught Littlefair playing football with his children, the court heard.

Prosecutor Robin Leach said: “He was seen on one occasion pushing his children on a rope swing and playing football with them.

“A health application on his phone showed how many steps he had taken over 36 days… his phone recorded over 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent of five miles a day.”

He was even seen exercising the same day he was visited by the professional standards department, who he told he “couldn’t even pick up a kettle”.

Littlefair told police when he was interviewed that he was able to exercise because was taking painkillers, but blood tests found no trace of medication in his system.

He was suspended by the force in May 2020 and pleaded guilty to fraud in August.

Littlefair will also face further misconduct proceedings and deal with how to repay the £149,764 obtained fraudulently.

The defendant, who has now quit Dorset Police, arrived at Salisbury Crown Court in a wheelchair this week.

The court heard he now has depression and a functional neurological disorder, which is why he requires a wheelchair.

Luke Ponte, defending, said: “He expresses remorse for what he did and he in particular is sorry to have diminished the police in the eyes of the public.”

Jailing him, Judge Pawson said the fact Littlefair was a serving police officer was an aggravating factor while referencing other recent crimes by cops.

He said: “This case is during one of the worst years in recent policing history. This year there has been a police officer dealt with for kidnap, rape and murder… two others this week were dealt with for taking photographs of a dead body and now this case – it’s of a far less offence – but it will affect public confidence in the police service.”

Detective Inspector Darren Moores, of the Counter Corruption Unit, said: “Police officers are publicly funded to protect the public and whilst the vast majority of police officers execute their duties with commitment and dedication, they are not above the law.

“It was wholly in the public’s interest to investigate Littlefair and bring him to justice for his deceit.”

IOPC Director of Major Investigations, Steve Noonan, said: “(This) outcome shows that such deceitful behaviour will not be tolerated.”

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