A British police officer pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and forgery in court Friday, and was sentenced to more than three years in jail for making numerous false reports in an apparent smear campaign against one man.
According to BBC News, Colin Hughes was a sergeant for the Merseyside Police in the U.K. in 2014 and 2015 when his department received 20 reports claiming that a father of two, not identified in court records, was selling cocaine and heroin. Hughes also made 15 reports to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Because of these reports, social workers and police officers had the man stopped, searched and questioned, though they quickly determined the reports were “malicious and untrue,” according to Sky News.
But Hughes’ downfall came as a result of forged documents he submitted in court, according to the Liverpool Echo. Prosecutors say he forged witness statements and attempted to submit documents from other police officers in court. However, authorities noticed that the ranks of the officers named in the documents were spelled incorrectly, per Sky News.
Hughes is dyslexic, according to BBC News, with a tendency to insert capital letters into the middle of words. Once authorities went back and examined his other false reports, they found many “bore the significant hallmarks of poor spelling and grammatical errors,” a prosecutor told BBC News.
Hughes was suspended in December 2015, per the BBC, and authorities say they later found out he had forged another letter from a former professor to secure funding from police for a master’s course.
On Friday, a judge declared that Hughes’ conduct, while somewhat explained by his poor mental health, was “persistent and sustained offending over a period of time and of the utmost seriousness.”
“You have brought disgrace on yourself and tarnished the reputation of Merseyside Police,” the judge said, as he sentenced Hughes to three years and four months in jail.
According to the Child Mind Institute, as many as one in five children may suffer from dyslexia, though the symptoms of the learning disorder can differ among patients. However, the Institute warns that there can be social and emotional impacts that accompany dyslexia as well.