Jail for former Woodhill prison officer, Trunkfield, who sold stories to The Sun

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A former Woodhill prison officer who sold information on James Bulger’s killer, Jon Venables, to The Sun has been jailed for 16 months.

Richard Trunkfield had received £3,500 from the Red Top newspaper after speaking with a journalist there between ten and 15 times in 2010.

The 31-year-old, from Moulton, Northamptonshire, appeared at The Old Bailey yesterday along with former police officer, Alan Tierney – convicted of selling stories on John Terry and Ronnie Wood to the newspaper.

Trunkfield had previously pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in a public office when he appeared at Southwark Crown Court on March 8.

He had been employed as a prison operational support officer at HMP Woodhill when he passed on details about one of toddler James Bulger’s killers, Jon Venables, some time between March 2 and April 30, 2010.

The conviction is part of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Elevden – the Force’s inquiry into inappropriate payments to police and public officials.

Tierney, 40, who had also admitted misconduct in a public office, was jailed for 10 months for selling information on the separate arrests of John Terry’s mother and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.

Trunkfield has since resigned from Woodhill prison and Venables is no longer being held there, the court heard.

Passing sentence on both men in separate hearings, Mr Justice Fulford 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 judge told Trunkfield: “It’s for those in authority to decide on the extent to which, if at all, it’s in the public interest to reveal the details concerning a particular defendant, balancing a wide range of factors.

“It is most assuredly not for individual prison officers to take it upon themselves to contact the press to reveal information about a defendant in circumstances such as those before the court today, still less to enrich themselves in the process.”

In mitigation, the court heard that Trunkfield had no direct contact with Venables and passed on minor details such as what he was eating, including burger and chips.

After he saw the stories that were being published, he assigned his journalist contact a different ringtone so he could ignore the calls, the court heard.

It was also claimed that information was being leaked by another, unidentified source at the prison.