A Croydon policeman who lied about having his iPhone stolen was caught after he used it to call his girlfriend.

Gareth Beard of Banstead Road, Caterham, claimed his mobile phone was stolen in McDonalds in the Whitgift Centre in April 2010, to get a free replacement from O2.

The 35-year-old also entered his own crime report on the Met's Crime Reporting System (CRIS), to back up his fictious claim.

But suspicions were raised when CCTV from the McDonald's restaurant showed no trace of the officer.

The incident was reported to the Directorate of Professional Standards in June 2010, who launched an investigation but further inconsistencies in his story were found.

Southwark Crown Court heard he then changed the date of the alleged theft, but again it did not tally up with evidence gathered.

Beard denied fraud but was convicted on September 12, following a trial at the court. He resigned from the police force the following day.

The court heard Beard suffered post-traumatic stress after his lip was bitten off when he attended a domestic violence incident.

He was put on anti-depressants and was consigned to a desk job.

Shortly before he committed the crime he had faced disciplinary action for poor time keeping.

At Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, he was spared jail and sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years.

He was ordered to pay £1,000 costs and will be subject to a tagged curfew between 8pm and 7am.

Sentencing him Judge David Higgins said: "Your motive for this offence, which in my judgement can only be pre-mediated, was to secure a new phone worth between £400 and £500.

"This was an insurance fraud, albeit towards the lower end of the spectrum.

"There is, however, an added dimension to this as you were at the time a serving police officer and you used your position to further this fraud."

The judge said Beard's lies when he was found out was "merely a product of such things as panic, confusion and foolishness.

He added: "In my judgement it was neither. This was obviously the product of a criminal who in fear of being discovered attempted to lie as a way out of his predicament without success."