A Police sergeant accused of dealing steroids to pals has told jurors he first started using the illegal drugs as a form of male contraception.
Northumbria officer Darren Towers is accused of bulk buying anabolic steroids to distribute to fellow bodybuilders and turning a blind eye to others who were dealing.
The former seaman, who spent time in the Royal Navy before joining the force, denies conspiracy to supply steroids and misconduct in public office. He is being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.
The 41-year-old, who was based in Sunderland, told jurors yesterday he first started using steroids in the late 1990s when his wife was having problems taking the contraceptive pill, but believed they were legal.
He said: “My wife was on the contraceptive pill and it caused issues for her, effects the pill was having.
“As a result of that, and things I had read in magazines, I was aware testosterone was being tried as a male contraceptive and I looked into that to see if it could be an option for me to use, instead of my wife.”
When asked by his barrister Julian Smith if he went on to use steroids as a contraceptive he said: “I did, yes.”
Towers said his research prompted him to believe steroids were legal to possess and import for personal use.
He stopped using the drugs as a contraceptive when he and his wife decided to start a family.
The court heard Towers joined the police in 1998 and “excelled” through his training.
Towers, who continued his bodybuilding and became a black belt in martial arts, told jurors he became the target of a criminal gang because of his work on the beat in Hendon, Sunderland.
He said he received personal threats from the Hendon Mad Dogs and was advised by his superiors to take steps, such as alternating his route home, to protect himself.
The officer was visibly upset as he told the court: “They were notorious within Sunderland for the crimes they were committing against people, so much so there was a task force set up to target these people.
“I was already involved in incidents, where I had arrested three people single handedly, and they started targeting me as an individual.”
Towers said on one occasion his hat was stolen in Hendon, put on top of a telegraph pole, and threats written in chalk of what was going to happen to him.
On another occasion a sign was put up in Hendon which depicted a gun and indicating the officer would be next.
Towers said despite the threats, regulars at the Nissan gym where he trained, and a gym in Pelaw, were aware he was a serving officer and he never made a secret of the fact.
Towers also spent time with the armed response unit and was posted to Gill Bridge police station in Sunderland where he worked as custody sergeant.
It was in 2006, when Towers decided to take his bodybuilding to a competitive level, he decided to use steroids alongside his almost daily gym sessions, strict diet and vitamin supplements.
He said he once again checked into the legality of taking the drugs and concluded he was not doing anything wrong. The trial continues.