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Detective Jailed For Trying To Leak To NOTW

A senior police officer has been jailed for 15 months for trying to sell information to the News Of The World.

Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, 53, was found guilty last month of misconduct in public office for offering the newspaper confidential information in return for money.

In sentencing Casburn at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Fulford described her crime as "a corrupt attempt to make money out of sensitive and potentially very damaging information".

A year before she was arrested, Casburn, of Hatfield Peverel, Essex, had started the process of adopting a child.

The judge said had that not been for the adopted child he would have sentenced her to three years.

He said he was particularly concerned about Casburn's child, saying that her absence while she is in prison could cause lifelong damage.

Sky News Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said: "The judge said it was such a serious offence that she did have to go to jail.

"It's prison for a police officer and, as the judge acknowledged, police officers find life inside very difficult, and there's no reason to think that she won't find it difficult."

The judge also said Casburn's offence could not be described as whistle-blowing.

"If the News of the World had accepted her offer, it's clear, in my view, that Ms Casburn would have taken the money and, as a result, she posed a significant threat to the integrity of this important police investigation," the judge said.

"Activity of this kind is deeply damaging to the administration of criminal justice in this country.

"It corrodes the public's faith in the police force, it can lead to the acquittal or the failure by the authorities to prosecute individuals who have committed offences whether they are serious or otherwise.

"We are entitled to expect the very highest standards of probity from our police officers, particularly those at a senior level.

"It is, in my judgment, a very serious matter indeed when men or women who have all the benefits, privileges and responsibilities of public office use their position for corrupt purposes."

Casburn, who worked in the counter-terrorism unit, called the NOTW news desk on September 11, 2010, and spoke to journalist Tim Wood about the fresh investigation into phone hacking.

She claimed she contacted the tabloid because she was concerned about counter-terror resources being wasted on the phone-hacking inquiry, which her colleagues saw as "a bit of a jolly".

The detective denied asking for money but Mr Wood had made a note that she "wanted to sell inside information".

Mr Justice Fulford said: "It seems to me Mr Wood was a reliable, honest and disinterested witness.

"He took time and trouble during the defendant's call to find out exactly what Miss Casburn was saying, questioning the defendant in detail on her account in order to make an accurate note for his superiors at the News of the World which he wrote up in detail immediately afterwards.

"He had absolutely no reason to lie and every cause to be cautious given the risk that the newspaper was to be the victim of a sting, as he suspected."

During her trial at Southwark Crown Court last month, Casburn likened the male-dominated counter-terrorism unit to the TV series Life On Mars.

She was not given a desk for several months, despite more junior colleagues having them, jurors were told.

But the judge rejected this as an explanation for her behaviour.

He said: "It seems to me this is a straightforward but troubling case of corruption.

"I decline to accept that she had significant difficulties working with her male colleagues in the senior ranks of the counter-terrorism unit, which in part she said led her to act as she did."

NOTW was closed in 2011 because of the phone hacking scandal.