Plods-turned-gumshoes jailed for hacking operation

Snoop ring cracked

Two ex-policemen were jailed today for running a private detective agency that tapped phonelines and hacked computers during its investigations.

Former Met officers Jeremy Young, 40, from Ilford in Essex, and Scott Gelsthorpe, 33, from Kettering, got 27 months and 24 months respectively at Southwark Crown Court today. Their agency was part of a national network of gumshoes with police connections that saw three more former officers jailed today.

Young and Gelsthorpe started Active Investigation Services (AIS) in 1999 when Young was on sick leave from the force in Stoke Newington. The pair offered to bug cars and break into networks on behalf of clients and to steal medical records, bank details and phone records. Gelsthorpe and Young hired a US-based hacker to use Trojan attacks against their victims, who included Jimmy Choo shoe boss Tamara Mellon.

Police say AIS could have netted Young and Gelsthorpe millions, but the exact haul is still being investigated.

The racket was eventually noticed by chance by BT. The telco's own investigators filmed an AIS employee tampering with telephone lines and then contacted the Met. The police investigation into AIS then uncovered a broader abuse of police information.

John Matthews, 60, of Stafford, was a serving officer who illegally accessed the Police National Computer on AIS' behalf. He was jailed for 14 months.

Anthony Wood, 65, also from Stafford, received ten months' jailtime. Gary Flanagan, 43, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, got a three-month term. Both were former colleagues of Matthews' who were running a separate private detective agency in Stoke-on-Trent.

Gordon Bucher, 53, a private investigater from Hereford, who acted as a middle man between AIS and Matthews got two months' imprisonment.

The sentences were the result of a huge inquiry led by the Met's Anti-Corruption Command. A total of 27 people were arrested and so far 15 have been convicted.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland commented: "It is very disappointing when you have police officers acting in this fashion whether they are serving or ex-police officers.

"This case involved a national network of private investigators in London, Hereford and Staffordshire with police connections which is a concern." ®

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