Ex-prison officer jailed for selling Jon Venables story

Scales of justice

An ex-prison officer has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for selling details about James Bulger's killer to a journalist.

Scott Chapman was convicted last month of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

A former News of the World journalist, found guilty of the same charge, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence at the Old Bailey.

The reporter has not been named for legal reasons.

Chapman, 42, made up to £40,000 by selling information to journalists, his earlier trial heard.

He was sentenced alongside his ex-partner Lynn Gaffney, who was jailed for 13 weeks, after also being found guilty of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

'So much money'

Sentencing Chapman at the Old Bailey, Judge Charles Wide said: "In no other case that has been before the court has a public official made so much money selling so many stories to so many newspapers."

During the trial, the court heard that Chapman first contacted the Sun in 2010 and went on to sell stories to other newspapers including the News of the World and the Daily Star Sunday.

He had used Gaffney's bank account in exchange for a third of his earnings.

The tabloids published a series of articles about Venables' personal life and interests behind bars.

Chapman said he first contacted the Sun about Venables because he was unhappy about the way he was given "special treatment" and then turned to other newspapers in an attempt to stop his Sun contact "pestering" him.

He told jurors he would usually send images of his prison ID card and a wage slip as confirmation to journalists.

The journalist was accused of paying Chapman for information after Jon Venables was sent back to prison in 2010.

The reporter is the first to be convicted after a trial as part of Operation Elveden, the police probe into allegations of inappropriate payments to officers and other public officials.

To the journalist the judge said: "It's obvious that you knew perfectly well Scott Chapman was a prison officer.

"You claim to have been acting consciously in the public interest. I do not accept that but I do accept you were trying to satisfy your demanding boss in a fiercely competitive industry."

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