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Vice squad detective 'blackmailed married man he saw leaving brothel'

Published in The Daily Telegraph
19th September 2017


Bedfordshire
A detective blackmailed a punter he saw leaving a brothel, a court has heard. When the victim reported the ransom demand to the police his blackmailer, DC Gareth Suffling, was one of the officers put on the case. Suffling, 35, was jailed for 18 months for demanding £1,000 from the married man, who he had photographed coming out of a prostitute's mobile home.

He was caught after his colleagues from Bedfordshire Police's Serious Organised Crime Unit noticed he was acting nervously while working on the case, looking at his mobile phone and drinking water excessively.

Prosecutor Angus Robertson told St Albans Crown Court it was discovered that Suffling had earlier made a Police National Computer inquiry into the victim's car registration number to obtain the victim's address. "Suspicion fell on the defendant as dangerous driving inquiries would not normally be carried out by his unit," he said.

The court heard Suffling had visited the AdultWork website and contacted the prostitute to find out that she was working from a motor home parked near an industrial estate in Sedgewick Road, Luton on 16 March this year.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons and was referred to as Mr A, visited the prostitute for 15 minutes that day. He was photographed by Suffling, who then used the Police National Computer to find the man's details. Eight days later, on March 24, Suffling placed a package on his windscreen, containing the photographs and a letter.

Mr Robertson said he had written: "You made an error of judgement. A massive error of judgement. The next step is for you to decide. You used the services of a prostitute in Sedgewick Road, Luton. Do you really want the people closest to you to know about this? You put your perversion above your family."

The prosecutor said Mr A was told he had made a bad decision and would have to pay £1,000 today. "The letter indicated if he declined to pay or approach the police the photograph would be posted through his door."

The married officer, from Barton-Le-Clay in Beds, pleaded guilty to blackmail and to misconduct in a public office between March 15 and March 25 this year.

Suffling said that he did not intent to keep money and was going to help a prostitute, who he had yet to find, to assist with her substance dependency. He said his personal financial position never influenced the crime. But Mr Robertson said that Suffling had been in an unhealthy financial position.