Essex

Hertfordshire PCSO convicted of leaking stories

A Hertfordshire police community support officer has been convicted of leaking information to the press.

Emma Smiter, 26, of Welwyn Garden City, was found guilty of misconduct in a public office and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The ex-journalist passed on information gleaned from police computers to the news agency INS, Basildon Crown Court heard.

The information appeared in newspapers such as The Sun and Daily Mirror.

Smiter's illegal tip-offs included one which related to an allegation of attempted murder.

'Just friends'

The material, gleaned from Hertfordshire Police computers, was passed to a news agency journalist and then on to the wider media.

Smiter had denied the charges and said she used police computers and e-mails only for legitimate reasons.

She told jurors she knew Neil Hyde, a director of the INS news agency, but said they had been "just friends".

She said she had not passed confidential police information to him.

Prosecutors told the court she gave details of police inquiries to Mr Hyde, who passed the information on to newspapers.

'Jail inevitable'

One accusation was that she told the news agency about a charity box at a police station in Borehamwood being £12 short.

Prosecutors said Smiter, who was a reporter with the Welwyn and Hatfield Times before working for the police, breached the trust placed in her by the police and the public.

Smiter has been suspended from her duties by Hertfordshire Police.

Adjourning the case for pre-sentence reports to be prepared, Judge Christopher Mitchell warned the mother-of-one a jail sentence was "absolutely inevitable".

Det Ch Insp Dean Patient, head of anti-corruption at Hertfordshire Police, said Smiter's behaviour had exposed a "vulnerable victim of crime" whose anonymity "should have been protected by law".

Smiter will be sentenced on 18 April.

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