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14 May 2015, 17:41
A retired detective from Nottingham accused of stealing £113,000 from a former police headquarters paid off loans and credit cards in the weeks after the theft, a jury has heard.
Paul Greaves, 56, is alleged to have taken the cash from a locked exhibit store in the old wine cellar beneath Warwickshire Police's former headquarters, against a personal background of "parlous'' finances.
Simon Davis, prosecuting, said it was the Crown's case Greaves disguised paying the stolen cash into his own bank accounts by laundering the money through betting on horses.
The defendant's bank accounts also showed cash deposits which could not be reasonably explained, claimed Mr Davis.
When asked about the payments by police, Greaves supplied hundreds of bookmakers' betting slips, most of them winners, which in one case appeared to show a 34-race winning streak.
The Crown are to call an expert witness who has described the chances of such a winning run occurring as almost zero, alleging Greaves had been selective about his betting record.
Prosecutors said Greaves' betting patterns were "unrealistic'' and could not account for the large sums of money which flowed into his account after the alleged theft.
"In a nutshell, the money going in couldn't be explained because he was losing more than he was winning,'' said Mr Davis.
He said it was the Crown's case Greaves, of Carlton, Nottingham came into a "surplus of cash'' in the weeks immediately after the money was seized on a police raid in June 2009.
Jurors were shown bank records charting payments of more than £30,000, used to pay off loans and credit cards.
The cash was initially found in a raid by a team of officers, including Greaves, on a Leicestershire farm during a drugs operation and later formally seized under the Proceeds Of Crime Act.
It was Greaves' job to be "in charge of the money'' as the team's financial investigator, but Mr Davis said he "failed to follow proper procedures''.
Mr Davis, opening the prosecution at Birmingham Crown Court today, said: "You'll have to decide whether the state of his finances were such that they assist you in determining whether he took the cash.
"We don't have to prove a motive, but you might think, listening to what his finances were like that temptation - we say - must have got the better of him.''
After being seized, the cash was put in a red lock-box to which Greaves had the key and placed in the headquarters's exhibit store at Leek Wootton, Warwickshire.
Mr Davis said none of Greaves' colleagues recall seeing the cash after it was placed in the box.
The loss of the money was discovered in September 2011, nine months after Greaves retired.
Warwickshire Police had to pay back the money to its owners out of its own funds, and subsequently launched an anti-corruption investigation.
Mr Davis said that trail led investigators to the now retired officer, who was arrested in March 2013.
Greaves explained away large deposits in his bank account coinciding with the money's disappearance as "good luck on the horses'', according to Mr Davis.
Mr Davis said a police expert carrying out a peer review of record-keeping found Greaves, an officer with almost 25 years' experience, had "fallen well short of the standards expected of him''.
Greaves' financial records were probed, and found he had borrowed from friends and relatives, with "significant'' debts on credit cards.
A few days before the raid he asked for a one-off £200 cash advance and assured bosses his finances were fine.
However, investigators found that by 2008 he had debts of #52,000 and creditors were told Greaves was having "extreme financial difficulties''.
Mr Davis said betting slips provided to police by Greaves showed an "unrealistic'' picture of his betting, including a 34-run winning streak.
An expert from the British Horseracing Authority calculated the odds of stringing together a run of up to 30 was 0.0001% - in real terms a "0% chance''.
"The money Mr Greaves could have made on a £1 stake on that first horse, had he then won 30 in a row, was £478 million,'' said Mr Davis.
Greaves denies taking the money, and the trial, estimated to last up to four weeks, continues.