A SENIOR counter-terrorism detective from Essex was today found guilty of trying to sell information to the News of the World.

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Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn committed a “gross breach” of the public’s trust by calling the now-closed tabloid and offering details of the phone-hacking investigation in return for payment.

The 53-year-old, from Hatfield Peverel, was found guilty of one count of misconduct in public office by jurors at Southwark Crown Court.

She telephoned the Sunday newspaper early on September 11 2010 and spoke to journalist Tim Wood, complaining about pressure from Lord Prescott over the probe and giving the names of two former NotW journalists under investigation - Andy Coulson and Sean Hoare.

Casburn remained impassive as the verdict was given. Prosecutors said she tried to undermine the hacking investigation by offering to leak details to a tabloid newspaper .

Mark Bryant-Heron told the jury: “She sought to undermine a highly-sensitive and high profile investigation at the point of its launch.

“It was a gross breach of the trust that the public places in a police officer not to disclose information on a current investigation in an unauthorised way, or to offer to do so in the future for payment.”

He said that her conduct was “disgraceful” and the phone call was “malicious”.

Casburn admitted contacting the newspaper, but denied asking for money or offering any information that was not already in the public domain.

Casburn will be sentenced later this month on a date to be fixed and was released on unconditional bail until then.

The court heard that she is currently in the process of adopting a three-year-old child.

Mr Justice Fulford said: “A real possibility is an immediate custodial sentence, but I’m obviously going to have to consider very carefully the issues that we’ve ventilated this afternoon and any other mitigation.”

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