An Independent Police Complaints Commission managed investigation into allegations that a Gwent detective constable did not return property confiscated during a police raid led to his dismissal.
Detective constable Steve Waters was dismissed in February 2013 and his senior officers, detective sergeant Paul Thear-Graham and chief inspector Glyn Fernquest, were subject to management action for their poor supervision of the confiscated goods.
On 12 November 2010, Gwent Police raided a property near Pontypool in response to intelligence reports about stolen copper. A large quantity of copper was found and two men were arrested. Several lorry loads of copper were removed from the property, along with a van, plant machinery and cash.
The IPCC managed an investigation after allegations were made by the owner of the property that 6-7 tonnes of copper had not been returned, along with a Citroen van, a trailer, and various items of plant machinery.
The IPCC investigation found that the whole operation was left wanting. Detective Sergeant Thear-Graham and Chief Inspector Fernquest had failed to ensure that a proper record of the seized property was kept.
Also, DC Waters did not carry out an investigation to establish the origin of the seized property, despite two men remaining on police bail. Subsequently, both men were released from bail with no further action taken.
Because of DC Waters' inadequate investigation he was instructed to return all the seized property. On two separate occasions DC Waters borrowed a 7.5 tonne lorry to return the property, accompanied by a friend from outside the police service.
After he had returned the first batch of copper DC Waters had been instructed not to return the goods in this way again. He disobeyed this instruction a week later when he returned more copper on his day off.
All of the property was eventually traced and returned except for the trailer, a disc cutter and a quantity of copper. It was not possible to determine what had happened because the goods seized had not been properly logged by Gwent Police.
A file of evidence was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider criminal charges against DC Waters but the lack of proper records meant criminal proceedings could not be pursued.
IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: "This operation by Gwent Police was flawed from beginning to end, especially the failure to properly itemise and record what had been seized.
"DC Waters had carried out a very poor investigation and then returned some of the property in a highly unorthodox way. He had then been instructed not to do this again and wilfully disobeyed that order. It is right that this officer was sacked for his actions.”