Crooked copper who built £1.5m property empire using squatters' rights jailed

A crooked copper who used her position to steal steal six vacant homes by claiming squatters’ rights has been jailed for more than four years.

Disgraced ex-sergeant Rosa Rossi built her £1.5m illegal portfolio by convincing tradesmen to change locks on the properties.

The 57-year-old officer was branded an “energetic fraudster” as she became the first female police officer to be jailed in Victoria, Australia.

She used the police database to gain information about vacant houses across Melbourne before using her badge to them over between April 2016 and June 2017.

Together they were conservatively valued at more than A$2.6 million (£1.5m).

Rossi eventually resigned from Victoria Police and pleaded guilty to nine charges including of obtaining property by deception, perjury, and unauthorised access to police information following an anti-corruption investigation.

Judge Martine Marich has described Rossi as an “energetic fraudster”.

One of her victims was a disability pensioner, who told the court he felt “like a fool”.

“It didn’t seem right to me that a police officer would be up to anything fraudulent.”

Today Rossi was sentenced to four years and six months behind bars at Victoria’s County Court.

Judge Martine Marich said her behaviour challenged the “very heart of property ownership”.

Crooked copper who built £1.5m property empire using squatters' rights jailed

“Your conduct involved planning and foresight.

“These were the owner’s private properties. They were worth significant sums. You violated the sanctity of those properties with your brazen acts.”

Judge Marich said Rossi “cloaked” her criminal conduct under the guise of legitimacy, which ultimately destroyed her distinguished policing career.

“Your fall from grace has been dramatic, profound, public and gravely embarrassing to you,” she said.

Crooked copper who built £1.5m property empire using squatters' rights jailed

The court heard that Rossi, a devout Catholic, had a turbulent and abusive childhood where she was beaten and forced to eat rotten meat.

She said Rossi had been experiencing a “mood disturbance” when she committed her crimes.

The court received several references vouching for Rossi’s character, including from a priest and former Victoria Police inspector David Manly, who himself was convicted of perjury as a result of the same IBAC investigation.

Rossi will have to serve two years and four months before she is eligible for parole.