UK

Richard Trunkfield Jailed For Selling information On James Bulger Killer Jon Venables To The Sun

27/03/2013 12:27 GMT | Updated 27/03/2013 15:43 GMT

A former police constable and a prison officer have been jailed for selling information to the Sun newspaper.

Ex-Surrey Pc Alan Tierney and Richard Trunkfield, who worked at high security Woodhill prison near Milton Keynes, were both sentenced at the Old Bailey.

Tierney, 40, sold details of the separate arrests of footballer John Terry's mother and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, while Trunkfield passed on details about one of James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables.

They both admitted misconduct in public office earlier this month.

Trunkfield has since resigned from Woodhill prison and Venables is no longer being held there, the court heard.

He received 16 months, while Tierney was jailed for 10 months.

Passing sentence on both men in separate hearings today, Mr Justice Fulford said: "This country has long prided itself on the integrity of its public officials and cynical acts of betrayal of that high standard have a profoundly corrosive effect."

New father Trunkfield had contact with a journalist at the Sun between 10 and 15 times and received £3,500 for information.

The judge told him: "It's for those in authority to decide on the extent to which, if at all, it's in the public interest to reveal the details concerning a particular defendant, balancing a wide range of factors.

"It is most assuredly not for individual prison officers to take it upon themselves to contact the press to reveal information about a defendant in circumstances such as those before the court today, still less to enrich themselves in the process."

In mitigation, the court heard that Trunkfield had no direct contact with Venables and passed on minor details such as what he was eating, including burger and chips.

After he saw the stories that were being published, he assigned his journalist contact a different ringtone so he could ignore the calls, the court heard.

It was also claimed that information was being leaked by another, unidentified source at the prison.

Trunkfield, 31, from Moulton, Northamptonshire, admitted misconduct in a public office between March 2 and April 30 2010.

The court heard that he was struggling with debt at the time he sold the information, and had cared for his mother while she was suffering from cancer in 2008 and 2009.

Tierney pleaded guilty to two counts - one between March 26 and April 3 2009, and a second between December 2 and 7 2009.

He sold details about Sue Terry and Sue Poole, the mother and mother-in-law of former England football captain John Terry, being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in Surrey.

He also sold details about the arrest of guitarist Ronnie Wood, 65, on suspicion of beating up his Russian lover Ekaterina Ivanova, who is in her 20s.

Terry, Poole and Wood all accepted cautions over the matters.

The former constable, from Hayling Island, Hampshire, received £1250 for the information.

Passing sentence at the Old Bailey today, Mr Justice Fulford said Tierney's offences were "a disgraceful way for a police officer to act".

The judge said: "It is wholly against the public interest for those who hold public office cynically to profit out of the misery or unfortunate circumstances of those for whom they are responsible."

The court heard that Tierney had sold the name and address of a witness to the Wood incident.

Mr Justice Fulford said: "The most serious aspect of the two offences is that, in relation to count two, the defendant provided the name and, most significantly, the address of the witness.

"The fact that the individual coincidentally tried to sell the story to another newspaper is neither here nor there in terms of what this defendant had in mind.

"Put bluntly, it could easily have led to that witness withdrawing all co-operation as regards being a witness."

Defending, Bill Emlyn Jones said Tierney was "an effective and well-regarded police officer" who was commended five times during his 11 years as a constable.

A second former police officer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also jailed for two years for misconduct in public office.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Fulford said: "In my judgment this defendant was utterly indifferent as to whether his actions would harm particular police investigations and the course of justice, and overall he did not care what effect his activities would have on the victims and others involved in the various cases about which he provided information."