A police officer has been jailed for defrauding his force out of £150,000 – after an app on his mobile phone showed he had been taking 10,000 steps a day while claiming he was too injured to work.

PC Matthew Littlefair claimed full compensation and other benefits for more then two years while ‘putting up an act’ that he was so badly wounded that he ‘couldn’t even lift a kettle’ after a minor accident.

After colleagues became suspicious, they launched a covert surveillance operation to catch him playing football with his children, walking his dogs, and riding his bike.

Investigators discovered that he had been repeatedly recorded as walking 10,000 steps per day (equivalent to five miles) while claiming that he couldn’t work.

A judge sentenced Littlefair to two years and three months imprisonment. He called him arrogant and said that his crime would undermine public confidence in police.

Matthew Littlefair, 36, has been jailed for fraud after anti-corruption officers found he was able to play football, run and cycle despite claiming £150,000 while off injured from work in Dorset

Matthew Littlefair, 36, has been jailed for fraud after anti-corruption officers found he was able to play football, run and cycle despite claiming £150,000 while off injured from work in Dorset

Judge Robert Pawson stated that this case occurred during one of the most troubled years in recent police history.

Littlefair, who was in a wheelchair when she arrived at Salisbury Crown Court Wilts with a single count of fraud by false description, was admitted.

Robin Leach, the prosecution, stated that Littlefair had been a cop officer since 2008 and was transferred to Dorset Police from Somerset in 2016.

Littlefair was, however, on leave in October 2017 and was involved in a car wreck described by the court in court as a rear end-shunt’.

The court heard that, despite the minor accident, the PC went to the hospital complaining about whiplash and pain.

After being discharged from the hospital, he declared that he was unfit for duty and was sick.

Littlefair refused Dorset Police’s offer to reduce his hours and allow him to work from home.

He was eventually offered ill healthcare early retirement in September 2019, when the force decided he wouldn’t be able to return fully to the job.

Dorset Police found evidence Littlefair had been walking at least 10,000 steps a day while off

 Dorset Police found evidence Littlefair had been walking at least 10,000 steps a day while off

He refused to accept the payout and appealed, claiming that his pain was so severe that he would not be able be employed ever again.

Mr Leach stated that he suffered from chronic pain in his body, and a series of injuries. He also complained of constant right knee pain. His knee could collapse at any time.

Littlefair was visited by Sergeant Tim Travers, his superior, and they maintained text contact.

He would often tell Sergeant Travers that there was no change in his condition, and when he finally came to visit him, he would mumble like he was being taken by a drug cocktail.

In total while on sick leave he fraudulently claimed about £150,000 in wages, tax contributions and pension costs, the court heard.

The Dorset Police became suspicious about the length of his enforced absence.

In April and May 2020, a covert operation was launched by the Counter Corruption Unit of Dorset Police, under the supervision of the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The court heard that Littlefair was seen by surveillance officers playing football with his children at their Alderholt, Hants home.

Officers from Dorset Police (pictured) observed Littlefair running, cycling and playing football

Officers from Dorset Police observed Littlefair running, biking and playing football (pictured).

Mr Leach stated that he was once seen pushing his children on a rope swing, and then playing football with them.

“A health application on his smartphone showed how many steps that he had taken in 36 days… his phone recorded over 20,000 steps per day, or the equivalent of five miles per hour.

He was even seen exercising on the same day that he was seen by the professional standards department. He said there was no change in his condition and that he couldn’t even pick up the kettle.

Examining his phone showed that he was ‘living a regular life’. He had been to a Bath rugby game and also enjoyed swinging an axe in the back yard.

Littlefair, who was being interviewed by police, stated that he could exercise because he had been taking too many painkillers.

Officers found four unopened bags of prescription drug pills that were not used. Blood tests showed no trace of the medication in the system.

The PC was taken into force in May 2020. He pleaded guilty to fraud in August that year.

According to the court, doctors diagnosed him with depression and Functional Neurological Disorder. He therefore requires a wheelchair.

PC Littlefair, 36, was jailed for two years and three months at Salisbury Law Courts (pictured)

PC Littlefair (36), was held for two years, three months at Salisbury Law Courts.

Luke Ponte, who was defending, stated that it was a tragedy that such a man, such a man with such potential and a loving husband and father has by his own actions placed him where he is now.

Mr Ponte stated that he regretted what he had done and that he was sorry to have damaged the reputation of the police among the public.

Judge Pawson jailed him and stated that Littlefair was a former police officer.

“This case occurred during one of the most difficult years in recent history of policing.

“This year, there was a police officers dealt with for kidnap and rape and murder… Two others this week were dealt this week for taking photographs of dead bodies and now this case – it’s of far less offence – but will affect public confidence and trust in the police service.

He added, “He is an honest man who made a tragic mistake… but it was not like other catastrophic mistakes made in life. It was a catastrophic error that he made for a long time.”

PC Matthew Littlefair

PC Matthew Littlefair

Littlefair will face a proceeds of crime hearing to determine the repayments of the £150k

Sergeant Travers repeatedly observed you putting on an act of deceit that showed no improvement in your condition. Your behavior displayed a certain arrogance.

Littlefair – who was accompanied to court by family members – was jailed for two years and three months and a proceeds of crime hearing will deal with repayments of the fraudulently obtained £149,764.

Dorset Police said that the PC resigned from their force after he pleaded guilty to the charges. He now faces formal misconduct proceedings.

Detective Inspector Darren Moores from Dorset Police’s Counter Corruption Unit said that ‘Police officers have been publicly funded to protect society and while the vast majority execute their duties with dedication, commitment, and dedication, but they are not above the law. It was in the public’s interests to investigate Littlefair, and bring him to trial for his deceit.

“Police officers have to answer to the public. This investigation will show that Dorset Police won’t hesitate to investigate any wrongdoing committed by Force members.”

Steve Noonan (IOPC Director for Major Investigations) stated that “The actions of this former Dorset Police officers were not only selfish and deceitful but have the potential damage public trust and confidence the police service.”

The Dorset Police took this matter very seriously, and we were referred by the force to supervise their investigation into Matthew Littlefair’s conduct.

“The former officer was found to be fraudulently misrepresenting the extent his injuries. Today’s outcome shows that such deceitful behavior will not be tolerated.” The force will now have to bring forth appropriate misconduct proceedings.