A former police officer who kept drugs hidden in tubes of Pringles and in Lynx deodorant has been jailed for drug dealing.
Nabeel Khan, 25, served with South Yorkshire Police and was sent to Grimsby Crown Court for sentencing after admitting supplying cannabis and being concerned in its supply. He was caught in possession of cannabis in an undercover operation by former colleagues.
Khan – who described himself as an addict – was jailed for two years by the Grimsby judge who was damning in his judgement on the former police constable. He was recruited three years ago to serve with South Yorkshire Police. But while he was working, he set up deals in the back of a police car during training.
Read more: Emergency services respond to incident at Cleethorpes shop
He also delivered cannabis during a time of coronavirus lockdown when the officer was meant to be tackling crime on the streets of Barnsley, said prosecutor Jeremy Evans.
He said the drug dealing went on from March 2020 to February last year when the officer went under the nickname “Nando.” Mr Evans said the officer came under the suspicion of colleagues in South Yorkshire Police who conducted an operation and trailed his BMW and his Toyota cars while he delivered drugs.
Cannabis with an estimated street value of £435 was found hidden inside the two vehicles belonging to Khan, along with cash and mobile phones. Khan was suspended at the time for separately carrying out unauthorized police national computer (PNC) checks.
Mr Evans said the officer was dealing in drugs while employed as an officer but said he had not abused his position as an officer and his customers would not have known he was a serving police officer.
The court was told his customers were regularly sent messages offering loyalty incentives and bulk discount to customers over a 10-month period.
He was arrested on February 24 last year when a female customer was in his car in Sheffield. His mobile phones were seized and police traced cannabis to the hollowed out base of Pringle pots and Lynx deodorant. The officer made no comment in interview to police.
Having interrogated the mobile phones police found block text messages to clients offering cannabis ranging from £20 deals up to £200 for 28grammes. The text messages revealed times of delivery and strains of cannabis on offer.
“He is seeking to increase sales and profits. In the notes on the phone there is a list of names involved in the supply, the ounces and who owed money,” said Mr Evans.
He added: “The phones also had video images of the defendant surrounded by drug paraphernalia and of him smoking cannabis himself and in the presence of others.”
The prosecutor told how while he was training in night-time driving with a colleague at the wheel, Khan sat in the back seat arranging drug deals. There were 11 occasions while on duty he was making offers of delivery.
On another occasion, while the country was in the grip of the pandemic, he was part of a strategy for fast-response to deploy to the streets of Barnsley. During the online training, he nipped outside around the corner to deliver a supply of cannabis to a woman and then went back to his duties, said Mr Evans. he said it was “classic street dealing.”
He said Khan played a significant role and made significant financial gain for the supply. He said it was an abuse of a position of trust and responsibility but the defendant had not used his position to sell drugs.
Mr Evans said: “Police officers are placed in a position of trust and it is a role that demands honesty and integrity in order to serve and protect the public. He chose not to.”
A subsequent search of police premises by the force’s counter corruption team found a further quantity of cannabis, containers with concealed compartments, bank cards and mobile phones. Cash was later recovered from the defendant’s address. Analysis of the mobile phones later yielded clear evidence that the defendant had been engaged in supplying a Class B drug while he was a serving police officer.
For Khan, Mark Bates said his client had suffered from lower back pain for a number of years. That in turn caused low mood and anxiety and he took cannabis for medicinal purposes. He denied his client made money from the drug deals and had only agreed to sell it for another man in return for a “top up” of cannabis for his own purposes.
He said the photos on his phone of him smoking were taken abroad in places where it is legal to smoke cannabis. Mr Bates said his client was “naive” when he told the man supplying the cannabis that he was a police officer. He said his client has a wife and two young children.
The defense barrister said his client had started to address his addiction. “He has become a better person and sees things from a different perspective and now has clarity of the addiction he had.”
Judge Michael Fanning said: “This is a tragedy of your own making.” He received references from family members who described his “fine and responsible character.”
The judge added: “Your wrong-doing has wider repercussions.” He said colleagues in South Yorkshire Police put him under surveillance. Evidence showed he was dealing between March 2020 and February last year. The police investigation showed there was £95,000 of income that could not be accounted for.
“You were a real salesman, offering incentives and bulk discount. You put your head in the lion’s mouth. You were meant to be protecting the public but you were propping up a criminal enterprise. You stupidly told your dealer you were a police officer and that then led to pressure to deal in drugs. But you could have chosen to refuse. You should have told your senior officers,” said the judge.
“Police officers who are off-duty say they can never turn a blind eye to crime. It was your choice not to do your job. You put yourself ahead of your obligations to your colleagues and your duty to the public,” he added.
The judge said he took into account his previous good character, the early guilty plea and his young age and the impact on his family.
“It is you who has harmed them. There is the length of time that these offenses went on for and the impact on the reputation of the police,” said Judge Fanning.
“Trust in the police is being undermined by the rotten few. Tens of thousands of police officers run in to situations where most people are running away and they must be holding their heads in their hands when someone like you brings shame to them. It is rotten ones like you that brings that.
“Police officers that choose to become criminals must know they will go to prison. The lot of a police officer in prison is an uncomfortable one. That is something the authorities will deal with.”
Sentencing Khan to two years in prison, he added: “You set out to serve the community – you have let it down.”
After the hearing Crown Prosecution Service barrister, Jeremy Evans said: “Nabeel Khan was found to have been regularly supplying a Class B drug during the time he was a serving police officer. In doing so, he has completely abused his trusted position and occupation as a police officer – a role that demands honesty and integrity in order to serve and protect the public. This sentence demonstrates that no one is above the law, and is a deterrent to anyone who holds such positions from engaging in corrupt and criminal activity.”
Proceeds of Crime investigations will now follow in due course. The Independent Office for Police Conduct Director of Major Investigations, Steve Noonan said: “This officer’s behavior was audacious, corrupt and criminal. His actions were a complete betrayal of public trust and confidence and have no place in policing.
“This investigation has now resulted in a conviction and lengthy sentence for former PC Khan. It sends a clear signal to police officers who engage in corrupt activity that they will be caught, and they can expect to pay a high price for their crimes.
“While all the evidence we have points towards this being an isolated case of police corruption on this scale, we have to remain vigilant and will continue to pursue seen corruption vigorously. I would like to thank South Yorkshire Police for their thorough investigation and all the hard work that has ultimately led to the sentencing today.”
Following his suspension from the force, Khan was later dismissed from South Yorkshire Police for misconduct. South Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Constable Tim Forber said: “Nabeel Khan was a corrupt officer who abused the trust and confidence placed in him as a police officer to deal drugs on our city’s streets and has no place in policing. I’m sorry that he ever found a place here.
“Former PC Nabeel Khan first came to the attention of our counter corruption unit in December 2020 when our systems showed searches carried out by him without a policing purpose. He was immediately suspended and later dismissed from the Force and placed on the police barred list. Prior to his dismissal, our counter corruption investigators had launched a separate investigation into Khan following intelligence suggesting he may be dealing drugs.
“Our officers were appalled to find he was not only dealing drugs but planning to do so whilst on duty. Khan was found with cannabis with an estimated street value of £435, and additional mobile phone and cash in his car. This causes huge damage to the trust and confidence that the public put into police officers. It’s essential the public can have this trust in us as when they need help for the most sensitive of matters, we need them to feel able to report it and speak to us.
“Whilst I am incredibly disappointed and appalled at the actions of Khan, I am reassured that our systems, processes and most importantly, our officers were able to identify these behaviors and exit him from the organization as soon as possible. Khan will now face two years in prison, and we wholeheartedly believe that this is the best place for him.”