Cop arrested for blackmailing man with pictures of him leaving the motor home of a prostitute
The entire case was aired in an episode of Channel 4's 24 Hours in Police Custody
This is the scandalous moment a police detective gets emotional and starts crying on camera as he was arrested by none other than his own colleagues for blackmailing a man who visited a prostitute.
Detective Constable Gareth Suffling has been named the prime suspect in the recent blackmail case that was shown on Channel 4's 24 Hours In Police Custody. The officers he worked with at the time he was stationed at Luton Police Station, Berfordshire, were shocked to find out about his involvement in the case.
The televised arrest sent shockwaves through the community as well.
The case was launched after a mysterious man walked into the station holding an envelope in his hand that he found on the windscreen of his car. In it were paparazzi-like pictures of him sneakily walking away from a motor home of a prostitute.
There was also a note inside that was signed by someone who went by the name "Light Justice." The person who wrote the note demanded that the man pay £1,000 or his family would be told that he was with a prostitute. The note read:
"On Thursday 16 March between 12:05 and 12:12 you used the services of a prostitute in Sedgewick Road, Luton. We’re sure that you will agree that the photographs along with the copies of the website provide quite damning proof of your actions that day."
"Do you really want the people closest to you to know about this? You made a bad decision and put your perversions above your family. You will pay £1,000 today."
The police started looking for the blackmailer immediately and were left completely stunned when they realized that one of their own was responsible.
Suffling from the Luton police was in for the surprise of a lifetime as detectives pieced the puzzle and zeroed in on him.
The footage was from the TV documentary shows the whole episode from the moment the victim gave the first interview to the police right up to the moment the shamed DC was caught and arrested at the station.
The victim, who is a married man, tells an officer nervously: "I went online and got the phone number of a prostitute in Luton. She told me she was in a mobile home. I went in, I gave her £30, she gave me oral sex. I didn’t think anything of it."
The case was taken up by Detective Chief Inspector Jerry Waite and a special team at the Luton CID. DCI Waite knew immediately that this was a job done by a professional. The police do not normally pay off blackmail money but DS Will Taylor said that if the victim was willing to pay with his own money then they could use that to capture the suspect.
Officers can be seen packing up the money and then the victim drove to the drop-off point with it to meet the deadline that was set. A police surveillance team was waiting close to the drop-off point to monitor the whole situation.
The deadline goes by without anyone coming to collect the money. The police decide to wait for a while longer to see if anyone comes to collect it but to no avail.
At this point in the investigation, the police only had one lead: the prostitute who went by the name of "Kirie". DS Graham McMillan from the Major Crimes Unit tracked her and her business partner Ian down to the car park of a pub in South Yorkshire.
When she was questioned about the blackmail, she said: "I pay my taxes, I’ve got an accountant and I do everything above board. I’m a limited company so everything is clean. I never want to get in trouble for anything."
Kirie said that both of them did not see anyone taking pictures near her motor home on that day and the police officers are satisfied with her response.
Four hours have now passed since the deadline and the team is nowhere close to finding their suspect. The victim's safety was the top priority for the authorities because the blackmailer was still at large.
An officer who was on the phone suddenly says: "A message from Jerry — no one to go home."
DCI Waite had made a breakthrough in the case and takes a few of his colleagues into a room and tells them: "This doesn’t leave the room."
The detectives were instructed to go meet one of the officers from the surveillance unit who was still monitoring the drop-off point. DC Suffling can be seen watching a screen as the rest of the detectives enter.
One of the detectives says: "Gareth, you probably know I’ve met you before. I’m DS Mark Devine from the Major Crime team. We’re investigating this blackmail today. I’m here to arrest you on suspicion of blackmail."
DS Devine starts reading the man his rights and then Suffling breaks down in tears.
DS Devine tells Suffling: "Now obviously you’re shocked, right, but we don’t come and do this sort of thing for nothing, do we?" Suffling is cuffed and taken into custody.
Detectives investigating the case found out that Suffling had checked the victim's car registration number on his official police computer to find out his home address. The kicker was that he did this even before the victim reported the blackmail.
Cameras at the station showed Suffling in custody and an officer watching him in the cell. News of his arrest quickly spread through the station and it left many colleagues in disbelief.
It emerged then that they had noticed that he was acting weirdly ever since the case started and he was constantly looking at his phone and drinking a lot of water.
DCI Waite was on a race against the clock to find more evidence to charge Suffling. He briefs the team at Suffling's home before they entered to search the property. He gets a call after a short while from the search team where an officer said they found pictures of the victim in Suffling's bedroom and a torn-up letter in the kitchen bin.
They realized that this was a copy of the demand letter that was sent to the victim. The evidence against Suffling was mounting and there was no escape at this point. Suffling was apparently trying to become a private investigator and also had debts to pay.
Officers started analyzing footage from businesses near Kirie's motor home and spot Suffling. When he was questioned about it all, he said, "No comment".
The time that is allowed for custody ran out and Suffling was suspended from duty. He was allowed to go home on bail while the investigations still continued.
In a shocking twist, the Major Crimes Unit received a letter that was sent from Suffling's lawyer and it contained his confession. The man said he did not want to make any personal gain from doing what he did and was only blackmailing the victim to help Kirie get into a drug referral scheme. He apparently looked that up on his phone.
Officers did not find such evidence in his search history after they analyzed his phone. The phone revealed instead searches for "Crime to make easy money" and "How to make crime pay". The phone also showed visits made to porn sites and also the page where Kirie advertised her services.
Suffling was charged shortly after his confession and in September 2017 at the St. Albans Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to blackmail and misconduct in a public office.
Initially, Suffling was to be jailed for 18 months but the Bedfordshire Police felt that the court had been too lenient with the sentence so they appealed. The Court of Appeal then increased the sentence to 3 years.
His colleagues are still in shock as they never imagined Suffling as the man to be caught up in something like this. In January 2017, he had received a commendation for an investigation he had worked on into a child sex abuser who groomed and sexually abused 6 teenage boys.
DS Tom Hamm, Suffling's superior in that case for 18 months, said: "Gareth was held in such high esteem. No one had a bad word to say about him."
"He was really good at what he chose to do because he had the knowledge and he had the leadership. He could have gone as high as he wanted, really, so I don’t know why he’s done what he’s done."
"If I had the opportunity to talk to him I think I’d only have one question and it’s just why? That’s it."
24 Hours In Police Custody aired on February 19 at 9 p.m. on Channel 4. Watch the riveting episode HERE.
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