A man has been jailed after claiming to be a police officer and trying to “arrest” a woman - just days after Wayne Couzens was given a whole life sentence for murdering Sarah Everard.
Gary Shepherd, 44, was wearing a blue lanyard with ‘police’ written on it when he approached the victim in a car park last Tuesday (5 October).
He said he was arresting her for drug dealing but fled after she approached a member of the public.
Shepherd, from Barrow, admitted impersonating a police officer and common assault and was jailed for 22 weeks at the town’s magistrates court.
It comes after Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, carried out a fake arrest on Sarah Everard, 33, before murdering her.
Shepherd told woman: ‘I’m arresting you’
Magistrates heard Shepherd falsely identified himself as a police officer and approached a woman in Barrow, Cumbria, at around 6.30pm and told her: “I’m arresting you”.
He approached the woman while wearing a blue lanyard around his neck, with ‘police’ written on the material strap.
He then attempted to detain the woman, telling her, “I’m arresting you for drug dealing”.
However, the victim was unwilling to accept the man’s claim to be an officer and approached a member of the public.
Together the pair challenged Shepherd, who then left the scene.
Shepherd claimed it was a ‘joke’
Cumbria Police said he was arrested that night and initially denied being in the area or committing any offences.
However, in his second interview, officers were able to show evidence he was not telling the truth. Shepherd claimed his actions had been a “joke”.
Shepherd was charged and remanded to be produced at court where he was jailed.
Magistrates invoked activation of Shepherd’s four-week suspended sentence for a previous common assault charge.
He was sentenced to 18 weeks in jail, to run consecutively from the four weeks activation.
For impersonating a police officer, he was sentenced to 18 weeks custodial which will run concurrently with the assault charge.
He was also fined £85 and ordered to pay costs of £128.
‘A gravely concerning incident’
Superintendent for South Cumbria, Matt Pearman, said: “Whilst this matter has been dealt with swiftly, it does not change the fact that this is a gravely concerning incident.
“To be approached in this way by someone falsely claiming to be a police officer must have been extremely frightening for the victim, particularly coming so soon after the sentencing of Wayne Couzens last week.
“Our officers recognised the seriousness of this incident swiftly and were able to quickly arrest Shepherd, who, less than 48 hours after the initial incident, is now starting a significant prison sentence.
“As well as thanking the victim and the eye-witness, we would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and the court for the swift manner in which the matter has been dealt with.”
How to check police officers are on duty
Former Met Police Chief Superintendent Parm Sandhu has advised women to not get in unmarked cars.
Talking on Good Morning Britain, she said: “I would say if you are stopped by an undercover police officer who shows you a warrant card - and remember this man legitimately had a warrant card, you are allowed to carry a warrant card when you’re not on duty - I would say do not get into the car unless it’s a marked police vehicle.
“Ask to see the radio or ask them to call us and make sure they are on duty and doing what they are doing.
“If you are really concerned, call 999. Now, this cannot carry on forever. This has to be a short term issue, we have to get that trust and confidence back so that women who actually need our help can ask for our help.”
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