A FORMER Reading policeman has been sacked after a panel found him guilty of gross misconduct - over deliberately underpaying for a box of Krispy Kreme DOUGHNUTS.

PC Simon Read, 37, was found to have abused his position as an on-duty police officer when he paid just 7p for the £9.95 box of 12 doughnuts in a Tesco Extra store in Wisbech, Cambs., on February 10 this year.

The officer - who was on duty and in uniform at the time of the purchase - was caught on CCTV using self-service scales to weigh a bag of carrots, and then placing the sticker on a cardboard tray containing the treats.

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PC Read, who lives in Wisbech, claimed at a misconduct hearing on Wednesday, November 25, that it was an "honest mistake".

He told the panel that he had stuck the carrot sticker on the box of doughnuts as he was buying the carrots as a joke for his colleague, and did not wish to give away what was in the bag and ruin the joke.

He claimed that he had attempted to scan the box of doughnuts twice, in order to scan both barcodes - but that he hadn't noticed that it had not scanned a second time.

And he says that at no point did he check the screen to be sure of the amount he was paying for the shopping - as he knew that it would be within the contactless payment limit.

But barrister Mark Ley-Morgan, bringing the misconduct case, said that it "beggars belief" that PC Read would not have noticed that he was being charged just over £4, rather than just over £14.

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Mr Ley-Morgan told the misconduct panel today (Thurs) that PC Read "could not be more culpable" - and said the officer had brought "serious reputational damage" to Cambridgeshire Police.

And the panel, chaired by Sharmistha Michaels, concluded that PC Read's behaviour amounted to gross misconduct - and dismissed the officer without notice.

After hearing all the evidence, the panel concluded that PC Read's explanation lacked in credibility, and that they did not accept his account that it was an honest mistake.

Ms Michaels said: "We feel that if this had been a genuine mistake, there would have been numerous occasions for this to be remedied by the officer.

"On the balance of probability, we say that he intentionally scanned the wrong barcode, and that his conduct was therefore dishonest, and his behaviour discreditable.

"This breach of the standards of professional behaviour was so serious that we have found it to amount to gross misconduct, and dismissal is therefore justified."

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She added: "We find that the seriousness of the offence is incompatible with his role as a police officer.

"The offence involved dishonesty, which undermines the trust that the public place in the police, and need to have in police officers for their service to be effective.

"There is nothing exceptional about this case that leads us to believe that dismissal for gross misconduct is not appropriate."

PC Read, who transferred to Cambridgeshire Police earlier this year from Thames Valley Police, had appeared before the panel accused of breaching two professional standards.

The officer, who lives in Wisbech with his wife Carly Priestman, 39, has served on Cambridgeshire Police force since January 2020, after serving with Thames Valley Police in Reading, Berks., since 2008.

Lawyer Carolina Bracken, representing him, told the panel that his career had been "marked with success", including involvement in several royal weddings to ensure they "ran smoothly."