UK

Three men jailed for selling information to the Sun

Richard Trunkfield (l) and Alan Tierney (r)
Image caption Richard Trunkfield (l) and Alan Tierney (r) had pleaded guilty to the charge

A former prison worker and two ex-policemen have been jailed for selling information to newspapers.

Richard Trunkfield, 31, who worked at Woodhill prison near Milton Keynes, was jailed for 16 months for passing on details about one of James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables.

Ex-Surrey PC Alan Tierney, 40, received 10 months for selling details about two cases linked to high-profile people.

A second unnamed ex-officer was sentenced to two years for misconduct.

He cannot be named for legal reasons.

All three were charged as part of the Operation Elveden inquiry into corrupt payments made by journalists to public officials, in return for information.

'Corrosive effect'

Mr Justice Fulford, who passed sentence on the men in separate hearings at the Old Bailey, 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."

Trunkfield from Moulton, Northamptonshire, had earlier pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office between 2 March and 30 April 2010.

The Old Bailey 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.

Legal restrictions meant it could not initially be reported that the prisoner involved was Venables, however Trunkfield has since resigned from Woodhill prison and Venables is no longer being held there.‪

Venables and his accomplice, Robert Thompson, were 10 years old when they abducted two-year-old James in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993 before torturing and murdering him.

Venables served seven years of a life sentence for the 1993 murder before he was freed on licence in June 2001, aged 18.

He was later jailed for two years in July 2010 after admitting downloading and distributing indecent images of children.

'Disgraceful' behaviour

Tierney, of Hayling Island, Hampshire, admitted two counts of misconduct, dating back to 2009, earlier this month.

Mr Justice Fulford said Tierney's offences had been "a disgraceful way for a police officer to act".

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

Tierney 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 various matters and Tierney received £1,250 for the information.

Image caption One of James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables (pictured here, in 1993), was jailed again for two years in 2010

Tierney's defence team, addressing the hearing, said he had "suffered a collapse of his mental health" since his arrest and had tried to commit suicide.

The court was told Tierney had lost his wife, family and reputation.

The judge said it was "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".

'Utterly indifferent'

The court was told Tierney had sold the name and address of a witness to the Wood incident, which Mr Justice Fulford said was the most serious aspect of the case.

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

Regarding the second, unnamed officer, 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."

Three officers have now been convicted under Operation Elveden, following the first case of ex-counter-terrorism detective April Casburn.

She was jailed for 15 months for offering to sell information to the News of the World newspaper after the inquiry into hacking by the tabloid reopened in 2010.

The operation is being run alongside Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting, which is looking into phone hacking.

More on this story