Cost of bringing police officer to court

SUFFOLK police spent nearly £70,000 bringing one of its officers to court to face a murder charge, it was revealed today.The figure was obtained by The Evening Star under the Freedom of Information Act following the completion of Michael Cheong's trial.

SUFFOLK police spent nearly £70,000 bringing one of its officers to court to face a murder charge, it was revealed today.

The figure was obtained by The Evening Star under the Freedom of Information Act following the completion of Michael Cheong's trial.

The 43-year-old was convicted earlier on Monday of the manslaughter of Brian Spencer, 23, who was fatally wounded by 22 shotgun pellets in Guyana, in 1982.

The majority of the inquiry's £68,000 cost was used to pay for the investigating officers' trips between Suffolk and Guyana to interview witnesses and take statements.

This total included flights, hotels, the hire of vehicles and general expenses.

But the figure does not take into account the salaries of the investigating officers or the court costs associated with hearing the trial at London's Old Bailey court.

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During the investigation by Suffolk, detectives teams of either two or four officers travelled to Guyana on five occasions to conduct inquiries, trace witnesses and search for evidence.

In addition the Home Office paid for key prosecution witnesses to travel over to London from Guyana to give evidence, meaning a further substantial bill was avoided by Suffolk police.

At the beginning of Cheong's trial it was said eight prosecution witnesses were to be flown over from the south American country, with another coming from Canada.

However due to a mix-up the Canadian witness, Cecil Roberts, who was deputy commissioner of crime at the time of Brian Spencer's death in 1982, failed to arrive in England. He ended up giving evidence via video link.

The case is estimated to have cost the British taxpayer a total in excess of £500,000.

Cheong, of Peterhouse Crescent, Woodbridge, is due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey, on September 5. He is currently remanded in custody.

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