Prison officer who sold Daily Mirror stories about Baby P mother Tracey Connelly is jailed - Press Gazette

Prison officer who sold Daily Mirror stories about Baby P mother Tracey Connelly is jailed

A former prison officer who sold tips to the Daily Mirror about the mother of the murdered child known as Baby P has been jailed for 12 weeks.

Joseph de Souza, 51, was paid £950 for information that led to four stories in the tabloid, three of them about Tracey Connelly's time behind bars at HMP Holloway.

She was jailed for allowing her 17-month-old son to be tortured to death. 

De Souza's dealings with the Daily Mirror between March 2007 and March 2009 were uncovered as part of Operation Elveden's wide-ranging inquiries into payments by journalists.

De Souza, of Manger Road, Holloway, north London, was charged with misconduct in a public office in June this year and pleaded guilty to the offence at the Old Bailey last month.

His newspaper contact, Mirror reporter Victoria Ward, is not facing any charges.

Prosecutor Jake Hallam told the court today that the first story to appear in the Daily Mirror under the headline Bad Girls involved allegations of a sex scandal at the women's prison.

The prison officers involved were later cleared of misconduct and the affair had a "profound effect" on them both professionally and personally, Hallam said.

The second stor,y headlined Tot Death Trial Mum Has Baby, for which de Souza was paid £200, was about Connelly having a baby in prison in March 2008 as she awaited trial.

There followed two more stories about her as she awaited sentence headlined Baby P Mother 'Let Me See My Newborn Child' and Baby P Evil Mum Cell Move.

De Souza was paid £300 and £250 for these stories, the court heard.

Hallam said the stories had a "wide-ranging" impact, undermining trust and morale, and were divisive within the Holloway community.

In mitigation, Kathy Ryan told the court that de Souza had lived an "exemplary life" and single-handedly brought up two children.

At the time of his offending, he was suffering from low morale in his job and was under financial strain, she said.

Jailing de Souza, Recorder Christopher Hehir QC also made a confiscation order of £1,118.26 plus £800 in prosecution costs.

At least 30 public officials have been convicted under Operation Elveden. Most were charged as a result of information shared with police by Sun publisher News UK.

Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror is also understood to have co-operated with police inquiries identifying paid sources in the public sector.