A POLICE constable, who deliberately lied to protect a fellow officer from being investigated for allegations of drink driving, has been jailed for seven months.

A POLICE constable, who deliberately lied to protect a fellow officer from being investigated for allegations of drink driving, has been jailed for seven months.

It came on the day when Scotland's drink driving laws were tightened, with the limit dropping from 35 microgrammes of alcohol to 22 microgrammes per 100ml of breath.

PC David Carmichael, who has nine years' police service, was earlier found guilty of wilful neglect of duty and violating the trust of the office of constable by a sheriff who described his actions as "a total cover-up".

Sheriff Robert H. Dickson told Carmichael: "I come to opinion this was a total cover-up to protect a fellow police officer. It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to find a serving police officer guilty of wilful neglect of duty.

"We trust police officers to be honest and fair. You breached that trust and deliberately lied. This is unacceptable.

"I have listened very carefully to everything that has been said on your behalf and the letters before me which clearly indicate you are held in high regard by a number of people.

"I have considered the social enquiry report very carefully and taken a long time to consider its terms. I cannot find any other way to dispose of this other by a custodial sentence."

The three-day trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court heard that 41-year-old Carmichael was sent to the home in Calderview Avenue, Coatbridge, of PC Daryl McKillion, who had been reported for possibly being drunk at the wheel.

Carmichael realised he knew the officer and did not ask him to take a breathalyser test, claiming he believed he did not have sufficient evidence to suspect him of any offence. Instead he radioed back to force control there had been no answer at Mr McKillion's door.

PC Justyna Niedzwiecka, 33, who was on mobile patrol with Carmichael on October 31, 2012, told the court she had been left "shocked" and "intimidated" by what took place. She was a probationary officer at the time.

Sheriff Dickson told Carmichael: "You told your less experienced colleague that you didn't want to grass up a fellow cop. This was an attempt to prevent action against an officer suspected of having driven under the influence of alcohol.

"You called force control and told them there had been no answer at the house, which was a lie, and as we heard in evidence, this brought proper enquiries to an end."

Mr McKillion, who killed himself just weeks after the incident, had been reported to police by a fellow off duty officer, Detective Constable Janice Scott, 35, who saw him in a shop in Carnbroe, Coatbridge, on October 31, 2012, and recognised him as a fellow officer.

She said his eyes were glazed, he smelled of alcohol and he left the store carrying a bottle of whisky. She then watched him drive his car.

Carmichael and Ms Niedzwiecka took the call and headed for the home of the registered keeper of the black Vauxhall Corsa. Ms Niedzwiecka said they found him "sleepy, drunk and confused".

"He and Constable Carmichael knew each other and chatted about an operation they had been on previously," she said. "We left the house and went back to the police car and he told the controller there had been no reply at the door.

"We sat there in the car in silence then I said 'it stinks'. He replied to me 'you don't want to grass on another cop or you have no future in the police if something like that happens.

Later that day she reported the matter to her superior at Coatridge Police Office.

Carmichael, in evidence, said: "It was a silly mistake and I wish it had never taken place. I'm human, I made the wrong decision. It was a lie."

Carmichael, who is still a serving officer, is being investigated internally by the force's Professional Standards Department.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "We are aware a custodial sentence was given to the officer. A report has been submitted for the consideration of the Deputy Chief Constable."