UK

Dan Evans, News Of The World Phone Reporter, Gets Suspended Prison Sentence For Phone Hacking

24/07/2014 13:30 BST | Updated 24/07/2014 13:59 BST

The former News of the World (NoTW) reporter who gave key evidence in the phone hacking case against his old boss, Andy Coulson, has been spared jail and avoided sharing his fate.

Dan Evans last year admitted accessing the voicemails of some 200 celebrities, sportspeople and politicians and listening to more than 1,000 voicemails while he was working at The Sunday Mirror and after he was recruited by the NotW.

SEE ALSO: The 2005 NoTW Article That Sparked The Scandal That Brought Fleet Street To Its Knees

The 38-year-old became the star prosecution witness in the Old Bailey hacking trial of former No 10 spin doctor Coulson, who earlier this month was found guilty of the hacking plot and jailed for 18 months.

Evans had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of phone hacking - one when he worked at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005 and one after he was poached by the NotW between 2004 and 2010.

He also admitted misconduct in a public office and conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

dan evans phone hacking

Dan Evans was a key witness against his old boss Andy Coulson, now imprisoned

Mr Justice Saunders gave him a 10-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He said he had taken into account Evans' guilty pleas and his agreement to give evidence in the hacking trial and possibly in the future.

He added: "In the circumstances of this case, and in particluar the co-operation that Mr Evans has given and has agreed to give the police and the prosecution in the future as compared with the lack of co-operation from others, I do feel able to suspend the sentence for a period of 12 months.

"I would not have done that had Mr Evans not made a clean breast of his involvement in these offences."

Evans, of Kilburn, north London, admitted two counts of conspiring to hack phones - one when he worked at The Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005 and the other from 2004 to 2010 after he had been poached by the NotW.

He has also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office between 2008 and 2010.

Evans had also admitted perverting the course of justice between 2009 and 2010 by making a false witness statement in the High Court over the civil action brought by designer Kelly Hoppen over two attempts to hack her phone.

rebekah brooks andy coulson

Andy Coulson (right) was convicted and imprisoned for phone hacking, while his former lover and boss Rebekah Brooks was acquitted

Prosecutor Mark Bryan-Heron QC told the court that Evans made a deal with the prosecution after he was arrested for phone hacking in August 2011.

Evans had told how he was recruited by the NotW to get big stories cheaply through phone hacking in January 2005.

Although he was told to stop after the conviction of former NoTW royal editor Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire in 2006, the pressure to produce good stories led him to resumed his activities.

He was found out in 2009 when Ms Hoppen caught him attempting to hack her phone and launched a civil action which has now settled, the court heard.

He initially blamed "sticky keys" on his phone, but he later admitted that was a lie, the court heard.

Following an examination of emails by investigators from Operation Elveden, evidence also emerged of Evans's involvement with corrupt public officials.

The court heard that he had admitted paying a prison officer for stories about Soham Killer Ian Huntley while he was in jail at HMP Frankland near Durham.

The information about Huntley's depression in prison led to the publication of a story on April 6 2008 headlined 'Tormented Huntley in Jail Death Plea'.

Details were also revealed by the prison officer about Huntley's daily routine and love of Strictly Come Dancing, the court heard.

PHONE HACKING:

Evans also gleaned information from a serving police officer about a firearms search on the home of EastEnders actor Steve McFadden which led to a story being published in March 2010, the court heard.

The officer, who has also admitted misconduct in a public office, was paid 750 pounds through a third party for the information, Mr Bryant-Heron said.

In mitigation, Evans' lawyer, Jonathan Turner QC, said his client had been under intense pressure when he moved to the NoTW.

He said: "He was taking drugs, he was drinking, his family was falling apart and far from enjoying the fruits of his labours he was becoming depressed and demoralised.

"He tried to move away from phone hacking after the arrests of Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman and he was successful in doing so. By the middle of 2009 he was so afraid of losing his job he tried to hack Ms Hoppen.

"Because of the state that he was in he went about this in a completely incompetent way, lacking the efficiency of a year or so before, and did it in a way that was inevitably going to lead back to him - and did."

The lawyer went on: "There must have come a time where he must have looked at himself and hated himself.

"There is no excuse for what he did. He never tried to pretend he was acting lawfully in doing this but at least he has accepted responsibility for this at an early stage."