A FORMER police officer who lied about her daughter having cancer so she could take her to show jumping events has been jailed.

Rachel Hewitt, 39, who worked for North Yorkshire Police, claimed her teenage daughter was having chemotherapy for a tumour and had been critically ill in intensive care.

The force gave her compassionate leave, special shifts and colleagues even organised whip-rounds to buy the family gifts.

But her daughter was actually taking part in equestrian contests, which Hewitt, of South Elmsall in West Yorkshire, took her to "after telling a pack of lies", Hull Crown Court heard.

Jailing Hewitt for 18 months, the judge said she had shown an extreme breach of trust by spinning lie after lie for around two years before she was arrested last October.

The mother-of-two was also granted time off from her role, for which she got a salary of up to £29,400, after claiming she had swine flu and other serious illness, Simon Batiste, prosecuting, told the court.

He said Hewitt took considerable periods off from work and was put on a four-day week after claiming her daughter, Natasha, 15, had the life-threatening illness and pretending she had also developed other conditions during her treatment.

On May 1, 2010, she indicated her daughter had been hospitalised with pneumonia and would undergo treatment on May 7. In fact, her daughter was competing that very day at the Port Royal Showground, he said, adding that Hewitt's two daughters were keen and successful showjumpers and actively involved in the showjumping circuit.

On another occasion, in January last year, Hewitt claimed Natasha had been in intensive care for eight days after suffering a life-threatening infection, and was granted compassionate leave.

In fact, that weekend, Natasha was acting as a groom to a friend at an equestrian event, said Mr Batiste.

Hewitt pleaded guilty to fraud and misconduct in a public office.

She denied a further charge of fraud relating to a career break at a previous hearing and the Crown agreed not to proceed with the charge.

Heidi Cotton, representing Hewitt, said the defendant accepted deliberately fabricating evocative family problems.

Jailing Hewitt, who no longer works for the force, for 18 months, Judge Simon Jack said: "I don't accept that you got locked into a pattern of lies. It's perfectly clear that not only did your lies go on for a long period of time, they involved new lies.

"Nobody thought for a moment somebody would lie about something so serious, so emotive as the health of their child. That's why you got away with it for so long."