Police Insider Tipped Off Criminal Friend About EncroChat Bust

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An intelligence analyst working for police in the North West of England shared information about a major countrywide operation with a criminal contact, in what has been described as a “disgraceful” betrayal of her colleagues.

Natalie Mottram, 24, from Warrington, was working on secondment at the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) when she was arrested by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers on June 12 2020.

At Liverpool Crown Court on Friday, she pleaded guilty to charges of misconduct in public office, perverting the course of justice and unauthorized access to computer material.

She was working on Operation Venetic, a major covert police operation launched after European investigators managed to crack EncroChat, an encrypted communications platform used by organized criminals.

Read more on Operation Venetic: Two Drug Dealers Get 18 Years Following EncroChat Bust

NCA officers believe Mottram told Jonathan Kay, 38, not only about the operation but also that police also had intelligence on him.

Mottram had been friends with Kay – who has convictions for driving offences and being drunk and disorderly – and his partner Leah Bennett, 38, for three years, the NCA said. They had apparently grown close over a “shared love of gym exercise.”

Police suspected a leak after intercepting EncroChat messages from a friend of Kay’s to another contact, saying a woman who works for the police had tipped them off about Operation Venetic.

In June 2020, NCA officers laid a trap for Mottram, asking her to analyze an intelligence log which referenced Kay. She is said to have subsequently driven to his and Bennett’s house to tell him about the bogus log.

Kay then set up a meeting with the man whose EncroChat messages were intercepted. Mottram, Kay, Bennett and the man were all arrested later that day and £200,000 ($255,000) in cash was seized from Kay and Bennett’s house.

John McKeon, head of the NCA’s anti-corruption unit, said Mottram walked straight into the trap laid for her.

“Natalie Mottram betrayed her job, her colleagues and the public she was paid to protect. Her corrupt actions had the potential to hugely damage the overarching investigation by alerting offenders of the need to abandon EncroChat and cover their tracks,” he argued.

“Operation Venetic was the deepest and broadest operation against organized crime the UK has ever seen, and has taken huge numbers of dangerous offenders off the streets. But Mottram clearly didn’t care about that. Her actions were disgraceful.”

Mottram will be sentenced in November.

Editorial image credit: Juiced Up Media / Shutterstock.com

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