Chigwell policeman and army reservist faces sack over ammo mistake

Barkingside Magistrates Court

Barkingside Magistrates Court - Credit: Archant

A Met officer and decorated army reservist faces losing both his careers for accidentally bringing home bullets from a military training camp – which police found after he was burgled.

Scott Roberts, 28, was given a 12-month community order following a lengthy hearing at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The court heard it was “inevitable” he would lose his job as a constable, and he was likely to face disciplinary action from the Army Reserves.

He pleaded guilty to possession of ammunition without a certificate after police found Nato grade bullets and clips in his Chigwell home following a burglary on November 11.

The NCO officer, who has two Queen’s commendations for saving lives in Afghanistan, had been on range training in October and accidentally brought five clips of 10 rounds, three bullets and two single rounds back in his kitbag.

He then put them in a box under his bed, where they stayed for more than two weeks while he worked police shifts and trained in the Brecon Beacons – where he was arrested.

The court heard the ammunition could only be used in Nato weaponry not found on the streets, but prosecutor Anja Hohmeyer said there was “still a risk” and argued Roberts deserved jail time.

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She also pushed for a transfer to crown court to enable a sentence upwards of six months.

“He took them by oversight, but the CPS is concerned about the conduct after he realised he had it,” she explained. “He kept them irresponsibly. It could quite easily have gotten into the wrong hands.

“This case should be dealt with properly. Given that he’s been in the army for eight years and is a police officer, he should have been aware of the responsibility.”

The mitigation counsel said Roberts, who could not take the ammunition on public transport or in a civilian car, kept it “secure” until he had the time to return it.

“He acted in the way he did to protect the public,” she said. “He was stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Giving evidence, Roberts said he “panicked” on discovering the ammunition.

“I thought what do I do?” he explained. “I secured it so I could return it at the next available opportunity. It was the safest place in my house.”

Sentencing Roberts, deputy district judge Alexander Jacobs said he had an “exemplary record” but “put himself first”.

He dismissed a crown court sentence as “wrong and wholly excessive”.

Roberts was given a community order for 12 months and must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. He must pay a surcharge of £60 and £85 in costs.