A New South Wales detective being probed over an online gambling scheme says he started the operation after a professional punter offered to help him with his financial troubles.
The Police Integrity Commission is examining how Detective Senior Constable Anthony Williams and Senior Constable Marc Smith created betting accounts using the personal details of their friends and colleagues.
The PIC has heard that 17 people were involved in the scheme between May 2012 and March 2013.
The two officers paid for the information to create the accounts, which were used to bet on behalf of professional gamblers Stephen Fletcher and Darren Azzopardi.
The accounts allowed Mr Fletcher and Mr Azzopardi to circumvent bans on them using online gambling websites.
Detective Constable Williams became emotional this morning as he told the PIC he was in financial trouble after a car accident in early 2012, and Mr Fletcher offered to help.
"I'm not making excuses. It was an awful time of my life and I was just trying to get some money," he said.
The officer said the two met during a murder trial in 2003, which Mr Fletcher had sat through in the public gallery.
Counsel assisting the commission Peter Hamill SC asked the detective whether he now thought he was doing the wrong thing.
Detective Constable Williams responded he still believed there was a "loophole" in the system and he was "just trying to get everyone to win some money".
Mr Hamill challenged the statement, saying it was hardly a collaborative operation when "the bets were determined by Mr Fletcher and Mr Azzopardi", and they kept the majority of the winnings.
Detective Constable Williams told the hearing he was a "middle man" between Constable Smith and the professional gamblers involved.
"I was what I'd call, in my own terms, a commission agent and the go-between between Marc Smith and Stephen Fletcher and Darren Azzopardi," he said.
Detective Williams began the scheme with Constable Smith after a colleague described the latter as a keen punter.
Mr Hamill has questioned whether the officer targeted people he perceived as vulnerable.
"You heard Mr Smith indicate that he had a gambling problem. Did you hear him say that?" Mr Hamill asked Detective Constable Williams.
"When I was hearing the evidence provided by Mr Smith, I didn't know the extent of his gambling habits," he said.
The hearing was told $250 000 was placed through a man's account, described as a colleague in the Homicide Squad.
Mr Hamill told the hearing the man also had a gambling problem involving poker machines.
Detective Constable Williams told the hearing he was not aware of their gambling issues until later.
"To say that I targeted them because I knew that they were both gamblers is totally incorrect," he said.
The officer also admitted opening up online betting accounts in his father's and sister's names.