A BEWDLEY con man who spent several years pretending to be a Metropolitan Police officer has been jailed today.
Stuart Howatson, 31, conned family and friends - including his own wife - into believing he was a policeman, but was eventually exposed following a tip-off to the Met’s Anti-Corruption Command.
Howatson gave various accounts of his role in the police, claiming variously to be an armed officer, a dog handler, a senior officer on sabbatical, and even a protection officer for the Queen.
Before his wedding in 2006 he told prospective guests that Sir John Stevens, then Commissioner, would be attending, and set a dinner place for him at the reception.
When Sir John failed to arrive on the day, Howatson explained his absence in his speech, saying security issues had stopped him attending.
After honeymooning at a Spanish villa owned by friends, Howatson offered to buy the property for £720,000, and convinced the friend a recent inheritance meant he had the funds to buy without a mortgage.
He prevaricated for nearly two years, stalling the supposed purchase with a series of bounced cheques and excuses.
He even created false bank statements that showed monthly deposits from ‘Met Police’ and ‘MPA’, in attempts to prove his finances were sound, in the meantime taking several free breaks at the £1200-a-week property.
In 2007 he gave an educational talk, in uniform, at a nursery school where a family friend worked, talking about police work to the children and showing them examples of police batons.
Howatson was arrested at his home in Millside Court in October 2008 after intelligence about his activities was passed to the Met.
A search of his home uncovered a substantial amount of uniform, which he later claimed to have bought on eBay.
During subsequent enquiries, officers examined a number of Howatson’s computers, and discovered a number indecent images of children, for which he was further arrested.
Howatson was sentenced to 20 months in prison. He pleaded guilty over several hearings at Worcester Crown Court to possession of articles of police uniform, possession of an offensive weapon, false accounting, fraud by false representation and possession of and making indecent images of children.
In sentencing, the judge described him as “a common trickster and a conman”.
DI Claire Moxon, of the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, said: “Howatson went to great lengths to maintain a long-running deceit, taking advantage of the trust placed in him by the people around him.
“His behaviour has not only deeply affected his family and friends, but risked undermining the integrity and professionalism of genuine police officers everywhere.”