A THIEF who found “a copper’s phone” hoped to use the mobile to cut a deal with police if he was ever in trouble for any other crimes, a court heard.

Anthony Gerrard stole PCSO Derek Thomas’ phone after finding it at the back door of a property in Farnworth.

The officer had lost his phone after visiting a house in Farnworth on June 6.

But just under three weeks later, he was told that Gerrard’s girlfriend had been showing locals photographs stored on the device.

Mark Savill, defending, told Bolton Crown Court: “The defendant was somewhat excited at having a copper’s phone, as he saw it. He had hoped he could use the phone as part of a deal if he was ever in trouble.”

Andrew Costello, defending, said Gerrard had not committed any other crimes for some time.

When PCSO Thomas next saw Gerrard, he stopped him, and a phone cover matching the one lost by the officer was found.

Officers then searched Gerrard’s house in Albert Road, Farnworth, and found the PCSO’s phone — missing its SIM card — hidden under a mattress.

Gerrard told police that when he found the phone, he had taken it and then given it to his girlfriend, Charmaine Shucker.

He pleaded guilty to theft by finding and Judge Timothy Stead sentenced him to a conditional discharge for two years.

He was ordered to pay £250 prosecution costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.

Sentencing, Judge Stead told Gerrard: “Your behaviour throughout has been entirely irresponsible.”