A FAKE cop who tried to arrest a lone woman in a chilling echo of the Sarah Everard case has been jailed.
Gary Shepherd, 44, approached the woman in a car park wearing a blue lanyard around his neck with 'POLICE' written on it.
He told his puzzled victim: "I'm arresting you for drug dealing," the court heard.
She immediately questioned his credentials and also called over a passerby to help her.
When they challenged Shepherd further he fled the scene in Barrow, Cumbria, but he was arrested soon after when the woman alerted the police.
He was charged with impersonating a police officer and appeared in court yesterday when he was jailed just two days after the offence.
Shepherd, of Barrow, had approached his frightened victim as she walked to her vehicle in the town’s Greengate car park shortly after 6.30pm on Tuesday.
After he was arrested Shepherd initially denied being in the area or committing any offences.
He then admitted to officers what he had done but claimed it was a “joke”.
He pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer when he appeared at Barrow magistrates’ court on Thursday and was jailed for 22 weeks. He was also fined £85 and ordered to pay costs of £128.
The case comes just a week after Met cop Wayne Couzens, 48, was given a whole life term for raping and murdering Sarah Everard, 33, after tricking her into his car under a false arrest.
Superintendent Matt Pearman, of Cumbria Police, said of the Barrow case: "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."
Cumbria’s Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said her force had introduced a way for the public to verify they are speaking to one of their officers in the wake of the Sarah Everard case.
She said: "The facts of how Sarah Everard died has shocked and appalled us all.
"It is truly horrifying that a police officer could abuse their position and their powers to carry out such abhorrent crimes.
"We fully understand that this has impacted confidence in policing and may also cause concerns for others when they encounter a lone police officer.
"All of our police officers carry a Cumbria Constabulary identification card.
"However, we absolutely recognise our responsibility to introduce an additional means of verification to provide further reassurance to anyone, including women who may feel vulnerable.
"This new verification process will hopefully reassure people that when they encounter one of our officers, they are speaking to an officer who is carrying out a legitimate and professional policing response.”
All Cumbria officers will now provide their collar number to anyone who asks and will call the control room on their police radio to confirm their identity with the radio on loudspeaker so the member of the public can hear.
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