In the Media

PC who tipped off criminals for cash

PUBLISHED April 10, 2006

 A CORRUPT police officer sabotaged investigations including a murder inquiry by selling confidential information to underworld figures.

Gregory O?Leary, 39, a constable who received up to ?80,000 for police information, was jailed for 3? years yesterday. O?Leary, who was earning ?30,000 a year, spent much of his time taking evidence from police computers for criminal gangs. He passed on information to drug barons and criminals who were being kept under surveillance.

The jury at Liverpool Crown Court was told that his actions destroyed investigations into drug smuggling, Customs cases and a murder inquiry. He charged ?2,500 for information, keeping ?1,000 and giving the rest to those who introduced him to his ?clients?. He used colleagues? names to access the police computer.

O?Leary, from Allerton, Liverpool, admitted six offences of misconduct in public office involving disclosing confidential information held by Merseyside Police and the police national computer in December 2003 and January 2004.

He was helped by a former officer, Mark Mitchell, who left the force in 1989 to work as a nightclub bouncer and introduced criminals to O?Leary. Mitchell, 51, from Litherland, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt O?Leary between July and February 2004 and was jailed for two years and eleven months.

In February 2003 police bugged Mitchell?s flat, and in May 2003 a hidden camera at a police station caught O?Leary using a computer when he was on sick leave. A surveillance team from the Professional Standards Unit heard Mitchell boasting to prospective clients about O?Leary?s success at helping them to escape justice.

Mitchell told Harold Foster, a businessman arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods: ?We?ll get you off every bit of this. Harry, it?s going to cost you money, mate.

?It?s going to cost you four (thousand) and then it?s going to cost you four on the result, and if you don?t get the result, you don?t pay. I?m guaranteeing you?ll get off it.?

Jon Murphy, deputy chief constable of Merseyside Police, said: ?This was criminality of the worst kind. Police officers are paid to serve the public, but O?Leary betrayed them and his colleagues.?

O?Leary had won commendations and was vice-chairman of the local Police Federation.

Sentences on eight other men ranged from 2? years to 100 hours? community work. Four admitted conspiracy to corrupt and the others admitted aiding misconduct in public office.

David Turner, QC, for the prosecution, told the court that O?Leary knew that criminals would pay handsomely for the confidential information that police had collected on them. He said: ?O?Leary?s motivation to act in a way that so damaged the Merseyside Police was greed.?