Marcus Beale: How the career of one of the region's most distinguished cops was left in tatters
It was a sorry sequence of events which could have resulted in catastrophic results for this country's security.
West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constables Marcus Beale, the then head of the region's Counter Terrorism Unit, had left the top secret minutes of an Executive Liaison Group meeting in his luxury car while on a trip to London with his wife.
Mystery surrounds exactly when or how the document along with a metal brief case it was inside were taken from the car, which was also left parked at a supermarket a day later.
But what is known is that ACC Beale, who was given the document on May 10, placed it in his car before noticing it missing five days later at a service station while en route to Oxford.
There is even some suggestion that ACC Beale's car containing the top secret documents had been left unlocked.
Whether the car was locked or not, the theft of the documents has left the career of one of the region's most distinguished police officers in tatters.
He was due to retire in April anyway, but any chance of continuing his valued work in counter-terrorism post retirement has now all but diminished.
ACC Beale already admitted breaching the Official Secrets Act at Wesminter Magistrates' Court last year, but perhaps the final blow for his glittering career came yesterday when he was found guilty of gross misconduct by a special case panel at West Midlands Police headquarters.
He now faces dismissal from the force.
How it all unravelled for ACC Beale
"The document should never have been in the briefcase of that car, not for minutes, let alone days, said Fiona Barton QC, counsel for West Midlands Police at yesterday's hearing in Birmingham.
"The impact of the loss could have been catastrophic. It is a matter of luck that the document does not appear to have seen the light of day."
The sequence of events started when ACC Beale requested minutes from the ELG meeting.
They were placed in an envelope which was given to him before he put them in a briefcase and left in back seat of his car in police secure compound.
After a visit to a nearby pub, he returned and drove Alistair Sutherland, deputy commissioner for City of London police, to Birmingham International railway station.
He then drove home and on his front drive transferred the documents to a metal brief case in boot of car.
The following day he went to a police building with the car before returning to pick up his wife for a trip to London.
They left their East Midlands home in the car, which was then left at a railway station car park before they returned two days later.
The following day, ACC Beale drove the car to Sainsbury's where he left the vehicle in the main car park.
It was only the next day did ACC Beale notice the secure briefcase was missing.
After being unable to find his iPod, he later stopped at Warwick Service station and noticed the contents of the boot 'did not look right'.
When arriving at a hotel in Oxford he reported the case, and secret document, missing.
ACC Beale has always said he was unaware of the top secret document within the envelope handed to him.
Corinna ferguson, chairman of the panel, said it was a mystery how and when the documents were taken.