PC's mother convicted over selling soap star's attempted suicide story to The Sun
Sandra Ridgeway, the mother of a police officer, burst into tears this afternoon when she was convicted of aiding an abetting misconduct in a public office after pleading guilty at London's Old Bailey of passing information about an attempted suicide to the Sun newspaper.
Ridgeway, 55, acted as an intermediary between the newspaper and her son after calling in with a story that a television actor had attempted to commit suicide. Her son, Thomas Ridgeway, then a serving police officer, has already been found guilty of the offence and sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Her counsel, Kevin Baumber, told the court that Ridgeway had herself received no financial benefit from the affair, discovered by the Metropolitan police's Operation Elveden, which is investigating inappropriate payments to police by tabloid journalists.
The court was told that on 7 November 2004, a "soap star" had attempted to commit suicide at the Marriott hotel in London. Thomas Ridgeway learned of the incident from colleagues and phoned his mother, advising her to "ring the paper up" as it would "pay for the story".
Her son, the court was told, said: "It's fine, the police often sell stories, if we get caught I'll just get a slap at work." Sandra Ridgeway later received £1,600 from a tabloid newspaper which she divided with her son.
In a statement read to the court, the actor in question, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the articles hampered his recovery and caused him to distrust people involved.
In a statement, Thomas Ridgeway said he had "dragged the wool over his mother's eyes" and had lied to her about the possible consequences. "He abused her trust and the trust of the public," Sandra Ridgeway's defence counsel said, as his client wept in the dock.
Sentencing Sandra Ridgeway, Mr Justice Wide told the defendant that she had led an "impeccable" life and accepted her argument that she had been dragged into the affair by her son, saying the punishment "would have been very different if that were not the case."
Ridgeway was sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment suspended for 26 weeks and ordered to repay £1,000 in costs.