A former West Midland police officer who fiddled money while he was working as a legal clerk has been given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.

Graham Rees, who spent 30 years in the force as he became a member of the firearms unit, overclaimed for 23 hours’ work while interviewing defendants.

The 51-year-old, of Chorley Road, Burntwood, near Cannock, had been made a director of MA Rumble legal services and the total bill submitted was for nearly £1,200 with £470 going into Rees’s pocket.

Judge Amjad Nawaz told Rees, who was based at the Birmingham firm’s Stourbridge office, the greatest punishment for him was the loss of his good character.

He said Rees went to police stations as an accredited member of the firm to take statements and accounts were submitted for the time taken and for travelling expenses.

But he had overclaimed 23 hours of bill time at £50 an-hour and, when representing more than one defendant, he had billed the firm for double knowing full well no travel was involved because he was already present.

“This was a breach of trust,” the Judge told Rees who, he said, had spent much of his life doing good work within the police force.

“A lot of people speak highly of you,” he added at Wolverhampton Crown Court. “But what you did means you will never be able to reclaim your good character.”

Rees admitted eight charges of false accounting and he was further told he must carry out 100 hours’ community punishment and pay £300 costs.

Prosecutor Christopher Lester said directors for the legal services firm had been told their accounts were to be audited and Rees then went off sick before tendering his resignation.

Adrian Keeling, defending, said Rees was a man of “positive” good character and he had received a number of commendations for his work in the police force.

He said Rees became a law clerk after leaving the force and he had “succumbed to dishonesty” pocketing what was a “modest amount of money.”

Rees was now building up a business in which he employed five people having “lost his good name which was dear to him”.