A FORMER Warrington police officer has been found guilty of buying cocaine.
A jury found John ‘Sam’ Griffiths guilty on Wednesday afternoon of counts of misconduct in a public office and possessing cocaine following a week long trial at Manchester Crown Court.
The 30-year-old was jailed for eight months for the first offence and two for the drug possession. The sentences will run concurrently.
He was a cocaine addict the court heard who ‘could not stop’ buying drugs.
Judge Michael Henshell said Griffiths’ decision to buy cocaine while on duty instead of attending a burglary in Warrington on Boxing Day last year had 'greatly eroded public confidence in the police'.
He added: "The serious aspect of this case was of course that you were a police officer charged with public duties which are sadly are now behind you.
"You were meeting on a regular basis with criminals that were supplying drugs.
"On December 26 you put your own addiction before your duty.
"It is undoubtedly the case that because of the amount of contact you had with the dealers you were very close to them indeed."
After passing the prison sentence the judge added: "That is the shortest possible sentence when the public has been let down as badly as they have here.
"That is what you have brought on yourself.
"You are in every sense the author of your own downfall."
Judge Henshell also praised police who investigated their former colleague.
He said: "The police who exposed this offence behaved extremely well.
"They went through considerable pains to expose one of their own.
"It's never a pleasant task for the police to deal with."
Defending, Darren Preston said Griffiths, from Chorlton, is a 'fundamentally decent man' who has now stopped taking drugs and found new employment.
He said: "A serious offence, absolutely.
“I also ask your honour to accept, and this was a crucial aspect in this case, that although there was this absurd invitation to the boxing match, there's nothing to suggest that any criminal knew he was a police officer.
"He was a man who was flying quite high. He started his career in his early 20s and was quickly promoted.
"He was a diligent, exceptional officer.
"He has had a spectacular fall from grace, losing his career, marriage and everything that was going for him."
Earlier on Wednesday the court heard he ‘could not stop’ taking the class A drug.
The police officer of eight years, who was based at Arpley Street station, was arrested on December 26 after allegedly buying cocaine from Albanian dealer Bledi Malecaj in Manchester.
Judge Michael Henshell said the defendant admitted going to meet the dealer and handing him £50 but claims that police officers who had followed him from Warrington arrested him before he took possession of the cocaine.
“He says he was an addict in the sense that he couldn’t stop, not that he was a quivering wreck,” said Judge Henshell.
“He said that he didn't think it affected his work and that he didn’t take it on duty.”
Chorton resident Griffiths, aged 30, has since resigned from his post with Cheshire Police.
He told the court he first tried cocaine with colleague PC Mike Burton in December 2010, because he was experiencing difficulties at home.
The court heard that Mr Burton’s brother knew a dealer and he and Griffiths would snort cocaine when going out drinking after work.
Mr Burton was arrested along with the defendant on December 26 but has since been released without charge.
As his habit grew Griffiths began calling and texting Malecaj directly.
The dealer would use names like ‘Terry’ and ‘Eddie’ during communication.
But the former detective constable continues to deny physically buying cocaine on December 26, the court heard.
He was on duty that day but claims that numerous calls made to his dealer between 1.24pm and 2.48pm happened accidentally while his phone was in his pocket. When investigating officers say they witnessed him buying the drug Griffiths denies accepting it.
Judge Henshell said: “He said ‘I’m not disputing that money was handed over but the drugs were definitely not handed over when the officers stepped out’.”
Police say they saw a packet drop from the defendant’s waist as they moved in. After being arrested Griffiths said his ‘life was over’.
He had pleaded not guilty to possession of a class A drug and misconduct in a public office.