A commended police officer with more than 20 years' service has been jailed for two years for helping a drugs gang.
Pc Gary Christie was sentenced today after being convicted of passing confidential police information to convicted cocaine dealer Asa Dobbing.
During a three-day trial at Teesside Crown Court, a jury heard Christie was lifelong friends with Dobbing.
He was part of a circle of friends based around the Ashbrooke pub in Stannington Grove, Sunderland, and its football team, which was managed by Dobbing.
When Jamie Malloy, one of Dobbing's drugs couriers, was arrested, Christie searched police computers for information about Malloy after being asked to do so by Dobbing.
"Christie was Asa Dobbing's man," said Nick Dry, prosecuting. "He was in his pocket.
"Following Malloy's arrest, Dobbing telephoned Christie at work at Boldon police station.
"Within minutes Chrisite accessed the police intelligence system, and began searching for the name of Jamie Malloy.
"The pair were then on the phone together during the search, and for 15 minutes afterwards.
"A clear inference can be drawn about what they were talking about."
Christie, 42, of Silksworth Lane, Sunderland, denied misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to supply class A drugs between August 2012 and April 2014.
He was acquitted by the jury of conspiracy, but convicted of misconduct.
Chris Knox, for Christie, said in mitigation: "Gary Christie's career as a police officer is at an end, and the material losses to him and his family will be huge.
"It is accepted his conduct provided no real assistance to the drugs conspiracy, so what he did was not as sinister or damaging as has happened in other cases.
"Neither was there are any benefit to him as an individual."
Sentencing Christie, Judge Howard Crowson told him: "It is clear you put your loyalty to your friend Asa Dobbing above that of your duty as a serving police officer.
"The breach of trust was aggravated by you being an intelligence officer, and by the fact you continued the association with Asa Dobbing despite being warned off by colleagues.
"A message must be sent - that police officers prepared to assist criminals must also receive prison sentences."
Dobbing, 37, of Ryhope Grange Court, Sunderland, who is already serving 14 years for drugs dealing, was given an extra year for aiding and abetting Christie to commit misconduct.
After the case, Superintendent Janice Hutton, head of Northumbria Police's professional standards department, said: "Christie fell far short of the standards we expect from our police officers and civilian staff.
"The sentence today reflects the seriousness of the abuse of trust. It is vital the public has complete trust in the police. When that's abused, Northumbria Police will take action."
Christie still faces a formal internal disciplinary hearing, but the court was told it is inevitable he will be sacked.