TWO corrupt police officers from Wigan were today beginning combined jail terms of more than 11 years.
A court heard how one of them used his son as a “shield” to run his drug-dealing operation - telling him “there’s no future in being honest.”
St Helens-based PC Paul Fletcher also abused his trusted position by feeding information to underworld criminals, including telling a man arrested on gun charges how to frustrate the police investigation and revealing the identity of a police informant.
Jailing 47-year-old Fletcher for seven and a half years Mr Justice Henriques said: “You have inflicted incalculable damage to the reputation of the police.”
Liverpool Crown Court heard that during Fletcher’s operation he tried to keep a safe distance by turning his 26-year-old son, also called Paul Fletcher, a former soldier, into a criminal and letting him “get his hands dirty”.
Fletcher Snr, of Downall Green Road, Bryn, who has been in the force for 20 years, also arranged a drug deal with St Helens police sergeant Paul Hornby - formerly an “officer of distinction.”
Fletcher’s supply chain also included his cousin, shot putter Carl Fletcher, 28, and semi-professional rugby player Terry Bridge 23.
The judge also told Fletcher Snr he had jeopardised the safety of others by passing on confidential information he had accessed on police computers, as well as giving criminals tips on how to avoid serious charges.
Fletcher Snr admitted six offences of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs and offences of misconduct.
Mr David McLachlan, prosecuting, said Fletcher Snr’s secret double life was exposed after Merseyside’s professional standards unit placed him under surveillance - planting a recording device in his car, while an undercover officer, known as Neil, befriended him.
Between December 2010 and February 2011, Fletcher repeatedly arranged to supply banned steroids, testosterone and other class C drugs to Neil.
Mr Trevor Parry-Jones, defending, told the court that Fletcher Snr had got involved with a trade he despised and the only explanation he could give that he had become “desensitized” and was struggling financially.
He told how the former officer, who cares for his parents, was now ostracised and felt “deeply ashamed.”
The secret recording device also picked up Fletcher snr revealing that he was “getting orders” from Hornby - a police officer of 26 years.
Examination of Hornby’s phones later showed him requesting for a drug price list from Fletcherr. Father-of-two Hornby was jailed for three years and nine months.
Hornby, of Bembridge Court, Winstanley, who admitted one offence of possessing class C drugs with intent, looked visibly shaken as he was led down.
Jailing Fletcher Jnr for 14 months, Mr Justice Henriques said it was clear he had been led by his father.
Fletcher Jnr, of Richmond Hill, Pemberton, who admitted six charges of supplying class C drugs, had repeatedly taken responsibility for his activities and had tried to protect his father.
Mr Ian Morris, defending, said Fletcher Jnr was loyal to his father, His father was his hero, an upstanding member of the community for many, many years.
He added that Fletcher Jnr had seen his father become disillusioned with life, depressed and struggling financially following the breakdown of his marriage and simply wanted to help.
Carl Fletcher, 28, of Old Road, Ashton, was jailed for nine months after admitting selling steroids from his shop, Flecks in Ashton.
His barrister Adam Lodge told the court how the talented shot-putter foolishly resorted to using the drugs after failing to be selected for the Commonwealth Games.
Mr Lodge told how he believed his competitors were using performance-enhancing drugs and decided to also try them in a bid to improve his chances.
Oldham rugby league player Terry Bridge, 23, was jailed for 10 months for also using his shop, Advanced Nutrition in Pemberton, as a front to sell steroids and supplying them to both Fletchers.
Bridge, of Poplar Avenue, Pemberton, admitted having a total of 19 different drugs, including a variety of testosterone substances and diazepam.
Mr Peter Davies, defending, said that he has a semi-professional career and has an optimistic future. He has a four-year-old child and takes his responsibilities seriously.
Hornby resigned from the police last Friday and Fletcher Snr is subject to police disciplinary proceedings.