Portsmouth council boss cleared of all allegations

CLEARED Derek Offord
CLEARED Derek Offord
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A COUNCIL officer accused of stealing from the dead has been cleared of all charges.

Derek Offord handled burials for people with no next of kin for Portsmouth City Council and was accused of stealing valuables from the homes of those who passed away.

As reported, he was found not guilty by the jury of one charge of theft and one of possession of criminal property after a three-week trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.

A charge of possessing criminal property was dropped during the trial.

But the jury was unable to reach verdicts on another charge of theft and two of possession of criminal property.

The prosecution had asked for a week to decide whether to push for a retrial on the three charges.

But yesterday Judge Sarah Munro QC ordered not guilty verdicts be entered after the crown prosecution service offered no evidence on the three remaining charges.

Mr Offord, 59, of Orchard Road, Havant, was suspended from his job and arrested when a junior employee, liaison officer Robyn Clark, made the allegations against him in June 2010. He was accused of stealing items such as valuable stamp collections, jewellery and antiques.

The offences were alleged to have taken place between 2006 and 2010.

He said: ‘I’m glad it’s over and that my name has been cleared.

‘I’m particularly grateful for the support of family and friends and all my friends at the city council.’