Former police constable and prison officer jailed for selling information to The Sun

 

A former prison officer with access to confidential information on John Venables,  one of the convicted killers of James Bulger, and a former policeman, have been jailed for selling information to The Sun newspaper.

Richard Trunkfield, a support officer at  Woodhill prison, was jailed for 16 months for taking payments from News International in return for confidential information about the treatment and prison conditions of Venables.

Alan Tierney, 40,  a former Surrey Police constable, received  a 10-month sentence for selling details about two cases linked to high-profile individuals. These  included Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie Wood, and the former England football captain, John Terry.

Both men had pleaded guilty to charges of misconduct in public office at an earlier hearing.

Mr Justice Fulford, who passed sentence on the men in two 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."

The court heard that Trunkfield was paid a total of £3,350 by The Sun while he served as an officer at Woodhill.  He provided details on Venables to the Murdoch-owned tabloid on "10 to 15 occasions" the court was told.

The information he provided was the source of numerous Sun front-pages on the Bulger killer.

Trunkfield  later resigned from the prison service.

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

He received what the court described as "bribes" in return for information which totalled £1,250.

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

Information on Tierney's crimes came from Operation Elveden,  the specialist Scotland Yard inquiry into corrupt payments made by journalists to public officials that has been running alongside the Met's inquiry into phone hacking at News International, Operation Weeting.

The former Surrey PC was paid by The Sun  for information on two celebrity stories. One concerned the mother of Chelsea captain John Terry, after she had been cautioned for shoplifting.

The other related to the  Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, who was formally cautioned for an alleged assault after an incident with his then Russian girlfriend, Ekaterina Ivanova.

The court was told the Surrey PC had sold the name and address of a witness to the Wood incident. Mr Justice Fulford said this could have led to the witness withdrawing all co-operation with the police if criminal charges had followed.

Tierney's counsel said that since his arrest he had "suffered a collapse of his mental health", had tried to commit suicide and that he had lost his wife, family and reputation.

Bill Emlyn Jones, representing Tierney, told the court that prior to the corruption incidents, his client had been "an effective and well-regarded police officer" who was commended five times during his 11 years as a constable.

However the judge said it was "wholly against the public interest " for those who held  public office  to profit out of the misery or unfortunate circumstances of those they were supposed to be responsible for.

He added that the public expected police to "behave scrupulously, fairly and with complete integrity with any information that comes into its possession" but the former constable's actions could have altered the course of justice.

Trunkfield's defence lawyer described the information that was provided to The Sun as "low risk". He said that throughout the period The Sun had been handed details, Venables had been held in isolation and that Tierney had no direct contact with him.

He described the information provided as "common knowledge" and that The Sun had been looking for confirmation of details already known to the paper.

The court heard that The Sun journalist would ask if Venables had been eating "burgers and chips". When this was confirmed The Sun headline would read "Venables gorging himself on burgers and chips".

In mitigation, Trunkfield's lawyer said that once the prison officer saw the headlines that his information had helped generate, he knew he had "let himself down."

The Sun, the court heard, had "hounded him" from the moment he handed over the first piece of information but that Venables' new identity had never been undermined by what the tabloid published.  

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on