Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire continued to be paid by the News of the World following his arrest, the phone hacking trial has heard.
Mulcaire has already been prosecuted for illegally listening to voicemail messages on mobile phones.
But the trial of several former News International staff – including ex-NoW managing editor Stuart Kuttner – heard Mulcaire was still in the pay of the newspaper after his arrest.
In a day bogged down by legal argument and written submissions, prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said Mulcaire was paid various amounts "for research", according to payment company records.
He said Kuttner authorised one particular payment, five days after Mulcaire, who used various aliases, was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking in 2006.
The court at the Old Bailey found other historic payments to Mulcaire, for £4,500 and £2,000, related to information on the notorious child killers of Merseyside toddler James Bulger.
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire; ex News of the World editor Andy Coulson, also 45, from Charing in Kent; former NoW head of news Ian Edmondson, 44, from Raynes Park, south west London; and the tabloid's ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, from Woodford Green, Essex, are all on trial accused of conspiring with others to hack phones between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006.
Former NoW and Sun editor Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office – one between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012 and the other between 9 February 2006 and 16 October 2008 – linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.
She faces another two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, from Chelmsford in Essex, between 6 July and 9 July 2011; and a second with her husband, Charles Brooks, and former head of security at News International, Mark Hanna, and others between 15 July and 19 July 2011.
Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former NoW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office – between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003, and between 31 January and 3 June 2005.
All of the accused deny all of the charges.
The trial continues.