Jon Venables pictured here in 1993
Jon Venables pictured here in 1993. He is now 31 years old.

A prison officer made £40,000 selling information about Jamie Bulger's killer Jon Venables to British tabloid newspapers, a court has heard.

Scott Chapman was a guard at the prison where Venables was locked up after violating his parole on child pornography charges in 2010.

He received cheques from the Sun, News of the World, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, People, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, a jury at the Old Bailey heard on Tuesday.

Chapman shared a third of his earnings with his ex-partner Lynn Gaffney, who also faces trial. The pair both deny misconduct in a public office.

Daily Star Sunday reporter Tom Savage and a News Of The World journalist, who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

'Plain, naked greed'

Opening the case against Chapman, 42, at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Jonathan Rees QC said the prison officer "abused his position" by providing information that was later used to write articles.

"His motive was not to expose some perceived failings in the prison system, but plain, naked greed", said Rees.

Venables was jailed for life for murdering toddler James Bulger in Liverpool in February 1993, when he was 10 years old. He was given a new identity in 2001 after being released on licence, but then went on to have his parole revoked in 2010 and was jailed for two years for downloading and distributing indecent images of children.

The first article containing insider information from Chapman about Venables' time back in prison appeared in the Sun in March 2010, the court heard. The story detailed how Venables had been given his "own private den" at the prison, complete with 36-inch screen TV and board games.

Around that time, his name also appeared in the notebook of another journalist, and he is understood to have sent a photo of his prison ID card to a reporter, and later asked for it to be deleted.

Chapman also requested to be known by the pseydonym "Adam" in the press, indicating that he was aware he was breaking the law, Rees told jurors.

There is a "code of conduct that governs prison officers' duties that prohibits them from making unauthorised disclosures to the press", Rees told the court. He said all prison officers were made very aware of the code on entering the job.

Rees said Chapman received a total of 11 cheques from News International - publisher of the Sun and News Of The World - amounting to just over £8,000.

Chapman went on to be paid just over £4,000 by the People, £7,500 by the Sunday Mirror and £2,000 for articles published in the Daily Mirror.