Sun six trial: Thames Valley officer accused of leaking details of police probe into violent killing of millionaire wife

The trial of six Sun journalists heard yesterday how a Thames Valley Police officer provided the paper with confidential information about a violent killing.

Millionaire Joanna Brown, 46, was hammered to death by her estranged husband Robert on 30 October 2010 following an argument. Her body was found near Legoland in Berkshire almost a week later.

A number of phone calls are said to have been exchanged between Sun reporter Jamie Pyatt's phone and those of three police officers at Thames Valley Police on 1 November.

One of the alleged officers was certified sick that day.

But records show the office accesased the police command and control log information about the case of Brown, the court heard.

On 2 November The Sun published a story about her disappearance, and the same day Pyatt allegedly expensed for the story, writing in an email he would "entertain senior Thames Valley Police contact".

Further calls were recorded between the Pyatt and the officer's phones in the following days.

The three officers are also said to have continued accessing TVP command control logs in respect of the Brown case, it is said.

The Sun published "Police to dig forest for Joanna" on 5 November, and the following day reported that her body had been found and that her husband had been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The officer had been on certified sick leave since September 2010, and would be until January the following year, detective constable Peter Semczyszyn of TVP said.

But records show her accessing information about the Brown case on a number of occasions during the first week of November.

Semczyszyn said the officer had been working as a Public Protection Unit Officer, dealing with domestic abuse cases, and had her own unique access to the control and command log.

She was also the partner of a retired TVP policeman, Semczyszyn added.

Jamas Hodivala, for Pyatt, argued that being on certified sick did not mean the officer couldn't come into the police station and carry out work.

"All you can say is that somebody using her pin number accessed the records," Hodivala said.

Semczyszyn agreed, but added that there was no record of the officer attending work and signing in using the conventional way.

He explained that CCTV would not be able to confirm whether the officer had attended a police station that day.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said this left three permutations. Firstly, that officer came into work while off on sick leave and accessed the command and control log. Second, that the officer didn't come into work and someone else using her details accessed the command control log. Or finally, that she didn't come into work in order to perform any duties but accessed the command and control log anyway,

Wright asked Semczyszyn how difficult it would be for a third party to use the officer's details to log into the police computer system.

Semcyzyszyn said that two separate passwords were needed: one to log into the computer system and one to access the command and control log.

Wright asked whether the officer would have legitimate reason for accessing the Brown case on 1 November.

Semcyzyszyn replied that there was not.

Wright asked whether this case would be within her remit, but Semcyzyszyn rejected the idea.

Wright continued: "Would she have any reason to be looking into this case by reason of her own duties?" 

Semcyzyszyn said she didn't. "It's unlikely her role within the domestic abuse unit would involve her looking through murder logs," he said.

"From her history what she would look at would involve domestic abuse cases – her work was predominantly around this."

Jamie Pyatt is accused with head of news Chris Pharo, former Sun deputy news editor Ben O'Driscoll, managing editor Graham Dudman, 51, former reporter John Troup, 49, and picture editor John Edwards of paying for confidential information at The Sun between 2002 and 2011.

The six defendants are accused of a decade-long campaign of payments to police officers, prison guards, healthcare workers in Broadmoor Hospital, and serving soldiers.

Pharo, of Wapping, east London, denies six counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

O'Driscoll, 38, of Windsor, Berkshire, and Dudman, 51, of Brentwood, Essex, both deny four counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Edwards, of Brentwood, Essex, and Pyatt, of Windsor, deny three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Troup, of Saffron Walden, Essex, denies two counts of misconduct in public office.

The trial continues.

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