Page last updated at 18:56 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008

Pc denies blackmailing offenders

A police officer tried to blackmail sex offenders and a suspected criminal after getting their details from a computer, the Old Bailey has heard.

Pc Amerdeep Johal is accused of sending menacing letters to 12 people in east London, for which he hoped to make 419,000 in July last year.

Mr Johal worked at West End Central police station on the Met Police's criminal intelligence system Crimint.

He denies 12 counts of blackmail and one of misconduct in public office.

This case is about the gross abuse to public office by a corrupt and dishonest police officer for financial gain
David Markham, prosecuting

David Markham, prosecuting, said Mr Johal, 29, from Ilford, east London, also sent out text messages to other suspected criminals from the computer offering to help them commit or conceal crime.

In some messages, he posed as a customs officer offering to sell drugs. In another message he offered diamonds for sale, Mr Markham said.

"He had a backroom job, to assist frontline officers by making checks on Crimint," said Mr Markham.

"This case is about the gross abuse to public office by a corrupt and dishonest police officer for financial gain."

He said Mr Johal admitted involvement but claimed to have been working under duress from a convicted criminal, which was rejected by the court.

Mr Markham said Mr Johal targeted people in the London Borough of Redbridge where he lived.

'Helping hand'

The court was told some victims went to police and an audit showed he had made 1,258 computer searches in the area during three months.

He was also traced from a mobile number he had given to his victims to get in touch with him.

The court heard Mr Johal targeted those who were vulnerable because they were on the sex offenders' register, or appeared to have money.

The court heard the 10 sex offenders and one suspected sex offender were told Mr Johal had photographs taken outside their homes.

He also got hold of police records and told them he was offering the "hand of help" in return for the money.

Letters sent out were identical, except amounts which were 29,000 or 30,000.

The 12th victim was a suspected money launderer, who was told he had a lovely family in an 89,000 demand, the court heard.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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