A retiring policeman who said goodbye to his north-east beat knows he will be dining out for life on the story of how he almost arrested Billy Connolly for “drug dealing”.
PC Steve Middleton, 59, was given a fond farewell from his colleagues at Inverurie police office yesterday, 30 years after joining the force.
He signed up for the police after jobs as a plumber and an oil field technician, and hasn’t looked back.
PC Middleton’s last few years have been as part of the Garioch policing team, but his career has taken him from Aberdeen city centre to Stonehaven, as well as stints with the vice squad.
Over the years the incident he will perhaps remember most fondly was in the 1990s, when a simple case of mistaken identity almost got the Big Yin in handcuffs.
Steve was working with the Mobile Support Unit in the city centre when CCTV operators spotted suspicious activity around a luxury Range Rover parked on Market Street.
Three men had been captured on camera approaching the maroon vehicle and were seen passing money through the driver’s side window.
Steve was dispatched with his partner to investigate the case of possible drug dealing – and was shocked to learn it was just the Scottish funnyman signing autographs.
The suspicious men, it turned out, didn’t have any paper, so handed over money for his signature.
Steve recalled: “He was stunned to start with when we stopped him.
“I was with PC Craig Stewart and it was actually his first day on the job and Billy Connolly was his hero.
“It was him that had to actually go to the window thinking it was a drug dealer we had stopped.
“It is a great story for me to tell at parties!
“Situations like that are what happens when you are in the police. I’m sure Mr Connolly remembers it as well as I do.”
Asked if it was now safe for Billy to return to the north-east, PC Middleton joked: “Not really, I think he had a bald tyre.”
More recently, his role in Garioch has involved going to community council meetings and mentoring students at Inverurie Academy in a role he said was “very rewarding”.
Watched by fellow officers and Steve’s wife Pauline, Detective Inspector Darren Bruce spoke warmly about Steve during the leaving presentation.
He said: “Steve is known to us as a guy who would give up his days off and would come in to help where he could. People won’t realise how much he has given up for this job, missing birthdays, Christmas and events with the family.
“He puts real effort into everything he does, Steve will be sadly missed.
“The office won’t be the same without him.”
PC Middleton said he has “thoroughly enjoyed” his career because “it has always been different and you never know what you would hear over your radio”.
He has no plans to put his feet up and aims to find another job to keep him occupied, but also hopes to spend more time with his family, including daughters Kim and Kate.