Corrupt PC jailed for blackmail attempts

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The Independent Online

A corrupt policeman was jailed for six years today for trying to extort hundreds of thousands of pounds from sex offenders using secret crime files.

Amerdeep Johal sent out menacing letters demanding a total of £419,000 and in all hoped to make more than £1 million from the scheme, the Old Bailey heard.

Johal, 29, of Ilford, east London, was today found guilty of 12 counts of blackmail and a further charge of misconduct in a public office.

Judge Gerald Gordon told him: "You grossly abused your position as someone with access to the confidential police intelligence programme in order to obtain highly sensitive information for your own purposes.

"Police officers are in a position of power, and real power, over ordinary members of the community.

"The public has to have complete faith that that power will not be abused.

"That is particularly so these days when so much sensitive information is so readily available to those in positions such as yours."

Johal was a police constable working in a backroom role at London's West End Central police station, making checks on the Met's criminal intelligence computer system, Crimint, to assist frontline officers.

He used his access to the database to target 10 sex offenders, one suspected sex offender and a suspected money launderer, all in the Redbridge, east London area, in July last year.

Letters sent out were identical except for the amounts demanded, which were either £29,000 or £31,000. No victims paid up.

He offered the "hand of help" in return for the money, telling them he had photos taken outside their homes, and police records.

"I am sure you would not want them to be known by your friends and neighbours - let alone any employers," the letters said.

The court was told that partial letters still on his laptop in July last year could have netted him a further £600,000.

Johal also sent out text messages to other suspected criminals from the computer, offering to help them commit or conceal crime, said David Markham, prosecuting.

In some messages, he posed as a customs officer offering to sell drugs, while another text offered diamonds for sale, Mr Markham said.

An audit showed Johal had made 1,258 computer searches in the Redbridge area during three months.

He was also traced from a mobile number he had supplied to his blackmail victims to get in touch with him.

An undercover police officer acting as an intermediary for the one victim had offered Johal £5,000 which he accepted by text while out shopping in the Lakeside centre, the court heard.

"He had a backroom job, to assist frontline officers by making checks on Crimint," said Mr Markham.

"This defendant used and abused that system in order to identify registered sex offenders for the purpose of blackmailing those individuals by threatening to disclose details of their criminal history to neighbours, employers and others in their community."

Jurors rejected Johal's tearful claim that he had been forced to send out the blackmail letters by two men who had threatened his family.

Outside court, Det Insp Nick Joyce said: "Johal breached a position of trust not only in relation to his employer, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), but also in relation to the public whom it was his duty to serve.

"The MPS is committed to rooting out and bringing to justice officers who we believe to be corrupt.

"They are not welcome within our organisation which quite rightly demands the highest levels of honesty and integrity."

He added: "The MPS does everything within its power to maintain the integrity of its databases and ensure that confidential and personal information stored within them is not abused by those authorised to access that information.

"Such abuse of trust is extremely rare but, when it does occur, the MPS has robust processes in place to track down the culprit quickly and deal with them appropriately.

"This case is proof that these processes function efficiently and successfully."