Police detective admits stealing £80,000 from outbound travellers at Heathrow Airport

Michael Harrington exploited his position to steal £80,000

Michael Harrington pleaded guilty to stealing £80,000 (Met Police handout)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Metropolitan Police detective sergeant has admitted 16 counts of theft after stealing cash seized from people travelling out of Heathrow Airport. 

Michael Harrington, 46, pleaded guilty today (October 17), a day after he appeared at Southwark Crown Court for trial.

DS Harrington, a financial investigator based within the Specialist Crime and Operations (SCO) Specialist and Economic Crime Command, was arrested on July 28, 2015 and suspended from duty that day.

He was charged on Wednesday April 6, 2016 with 11 counts of theft with another five later added to the indictment.

The thefts relate to 16 victims, with around £80,000 stolen in total. The offences took place on various dates between October 2010 and July 2015.

DS Harrington was based at Heathrow and as part of the Criminal Finance Team regularly seized large amounts of cash from people travelling out of the country.

The money should have been seized and banked, with it being returned to the owner if, following subsequent investigation, there was no evidence it had been obtained by criminal means. Instead DS Harrington kept the money for himself. 

Following a complaint by a member of the public that their funds had not been returned, an investigation began under the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Specialist Investigation unit.

DS Harrington was arrested and searches of his home uncovered items including empty cash bags and various police documentation.

None of the cash was recovered.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Hart, from the DPS, said: “DS Harrington clearly took advantage of his position to steal a large quantity of cash that had been seized at Heathrow. 

“He remains suspended and once all criminal matters are complete, misconduct proceedings will take place."

DS Harrington will be sentenced on Tuesday November 28.