Disgraced Bedfordshire Police officer Gareth Suffling jailed for prostitute blackmail bid
PUBLISHED: 10:30 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:30 19 September 2017
A disgraced former Bedfordshire Police officer has been jailed after he admitted trying to blackmail a man for using a prostitute.
Gareth Suffling, from Barton-le-Clay, was a detective constable when he wrote to the victim demanding £1,000 to stop his family, friends and work colleagues finding out about his visit to a call girl.
The 35-year-old was dismissed from the force without notice for gross misconduct following a special case hearing last month, and was jailed for a total of 18 months yesterday.
The court heard how the victim contacted police on March 24 this year after receiving the threat from Suffling – which was packaged up with photographs of him visiting a motorhome used by the prostitute in Luton’s Sedgwick Road on March 16.
Officers from the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit 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 that Suffling had been in touch with the prostitute on March 16 to find out where she would be that day. CCTV put his vehicle near the victim’s home when the demand letter was delivered.
Suffling, who was arrested on March 25, pleaded guilty to blackmail and misconduct in a public office – and was jailed by Recorder Jeffrey Yearwood at St Albans Crown Court yesterday.
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 the 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. 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 this behaviour at Bedfordshire Police, and this sentence should send a clear message as to how seriously we take such matters.”