A FORMER Wiltshire Police officer has been jailed for 18 months for offering to sell a story about a colleague to The Sun newspaper.

A jury took just over an hour and a half to find Darren Jennings, 41, guilty of committing misconduct in a public office following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Jennings, formerly of Harnham, denied asking the tabloid to pay £10,000 for information about his colleague, Sergeant Mark Andrews, in September 2010, claiming he was "set up".

Sentencing, Judge Charles Wide told the married father-of-two: "This was an isolated endeavour but what you did was very serious.

"You were trying to line your pockets to the tune of £10,000 and doing so by making allegations against one of your colleagues who had been convicted but not sentenced, later to be acquitted.

"You also make allegations against other people - police officers - of a salacious kind.

"As far as Sgt Andrews is concerned, you provided information that you hoped would be published that he had committed repeated crimes of violence; that he bullied a female police officer into having a mental breakdown; that he regularly used excessive force.

"You accused him of promiscuity that would have caused embarrassment not only to him but to his wife and children - imagine how they would have felt reading that story you wanted to plant for £10,000 in a tabloid newspaper."

The court heard that Jennings contacted The Sun in September 2010 after Sgt Andrews had been arrested in connection with an alleged assault on a woman in custody.

Jennings, using the pseudonym Robert Stone, sent an email to a journalist alleging the married sergeant had had affairs with colleagues, used excessive force towards members of the public at Salisbury Police Station and on one occasion slammed a woman's head against a concrete floor.

Sgt Andrews was convicted at Oxford Magistrates' Court of assault causing actual bodily harm but his conviction was later quashed on appeal.

The story Jennings told The Sun was never published and his actions were only uncovered by police officers investigating phone-hacking in 2012.

Jennings, of Saffron Walden, Essex, was dismissed from the force in December 2013 following a disciplinary hearing over a separate matter.

He has appealed against his dismissal and a review of the decision will be carried out by an independent panel in due course.Following sentencing, Wiltshire Police's Superintendent Charlie Armstrong said: “We can confirm that there is no evidence of wrong-doing by the officers named by Jennings and no action is being taken against them.

“This week the new code of ethics has become a code of practice for all who work in policing. It sets out the principles and standards of behaviour that are expected of all of us. Clearly, this case demonstrates the importance of ethical and professional behaviour.”