An ex-Bedfordshire Police detective has been jailed after admitting trying to blackmail a man for using a prostitute in Luton.
Gareth Suffling, 35, was working as a detective constable when he wrote a letter to the victim demanding £1,000 to stop his family, friends and work colleagues from being told about his activities.
Suffling, who was dismissed from the force without notice for gross misconduct following a Special Case Hearing last month, was jailed for a total of 18 months.
The court heard how the victim contacted Bedfordshire Police on March 24 after receiving the threat which was packaged up with photographs of him visiting a motorhome used by the prostitute in Sedgewick Road on 16 March.
An investigation was launched and it was quickly discovered that Suffling had used the Police National Computer to carry out a registered owner’s check on the victim’s vehicle on March 17.
Further investigations revealed Suffling had been in contact with the prostitute on March 16 to find out where she would be on that day, and CCTV put his vehicle near to the victim’s home when the demand letter was delivered.
Suffling was arrested and suspended the following day (25 March).
He pleaded guilty to blackmail and misconduct in a public office and was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court yesterday (Monday).
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Colbourne said: “This was a pre-meditated attempt by a serving officer to extort money from a member of the public and is totally unacceptable.
“This was a fast-moving investigation, treated as a very real attempt by an unknown offender to blackmail a member of the public. We received the initial report from victim at 10am, within hours we had established Gareth Suffling might have been involved and he was arrested shortly after 8pm the same day. He was suspended the following day.
“Our swift actions show how seriously we took the blackmail threat and ultimately Suffling’s actions which have no place in policing. We work hard to build trust and confidence in our communities, but that is undermined by such selfish actions by an individual.
“We will not tolerate behaviour at Bedfordshire Police and today’s sentence should send a clear message as to how seriously we take such matters.”