herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Corrupt ex-policewoman is jailed over CCTV bid to blackmail Liverpool star

A corrupt policewoman has been jailed for 22 months after seizing CCTV footage of a street bust-up to be used as a "tool to blackmail" Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard.

Helen Jones (32), a former PC with Merseyside Police, obtained the footage by "flashing her warrant card" to the manageress of a bank.

The incident involved friends of Gerrard becoming involved in a row with other men at a bar near his home in Formby, Merseyside, which spilled out on to the street and was caught on the CCTV cameras of a nearby bank.

Local businessman Paul Lloyd (35) claimed Gerrard "threw the first punch" but, at an earlier hearing, prosecutors said the Liverpool midfielder was acting as a peacemaker on the evening of August 4, 2013.

Jones, of Chatham, Kent, did not deny improperly using her status as a police officer to get the footage and admitted misconduct in a public office but claimed she had been doing a favour for a friend.

But Judge Stuart Baker said he found her account "wholly implausible", ruling she acted for "base motives", and described her as a "practised and persistent liar".

Jones, who joined the police in 2005, was on a career break when she went to the Lloyds branch in Formby and took the footage, which the prosecution claimed was for "criminal purposes".

threats

The court heard Jones got her hands on the CCTV to allow Mr Lloyd or another person to use it as a "lever" to cause Steven Gerrard to pay money to suppress it or use it in a way to cause him potential embarrassment.

Mr Lloyd claimed Gerrard and his friends assaulted him, and following the incident the footballer and his friend Mr McPartland faced "demands and threats" amid an atmosphere of "unpleasantness" and "menace", with claims of money being offered by the press for the footage.

Gerrard was later named in legal papers lodged by Mr Lloyd at the High Court claiming damages following the disturbance.

The civil case named Gerrard, his wife Alex and Mr McPartland as defendants.

But Richard Howarth, prosecuting, said Mr Lloyd was "an untruthful witness who sought to exploit his involvement in this incident and he maintained his deceit in the witness box".

Mr Howarth said the CCTV, which has never been made public, was a "side issue" in Jones' admitted offence of misconduct.

Gerrard's lawyers and Liverpool FC became involved and a police investigation led to Jones' arrest and her resignation from the police.

Roderick Jones, mitigating for Jones, said: "We are dealing with a single event in which a serving police officer on a career break took a decision to essentially, catastrophically bend the rules to breaking point and in doing so, broke them. This is a shameful and criminal aberration."

Outside court, Det Chief Insp Andy O'Connor said: "No officer is above the law. If any officer is found to be behaving in a way that does not meet our high standards, we will take swift and robust action."

hnews@herald.ie

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