In 2010 this journalist wrote two "back of the book" stories for the News of the World about the life the James Bulger killer Jon Venables was living in jail.
The details of his existence came from a corrupt prison officer, who over a period of time was paid £40,000 for stories about inmates.
The News of the World stories, were "not very sensitive revelations", "only a small part of the total" the prison officer sold and the material was "mainly in the public domain".
In writing the stories, our respected reporter was "trying their best to satisfy a very demanding boss in a ruthlessly competitive industry".
The reporter was "of good character" and "had not tried to corrupt" the prison officer. A "range of people from diverse walks of life" had offered "quite outstanding" references.
The journalist was also "respected and trusted by police" as a senior crime reporter to the extent of being "trusted with confidential information".
In 2011, however, this reporter was arrested and then spent 19 months on police bail before being charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a pubic office.
This trusted and respected reporter, who "has two young children to support", has not worked in journalism since the News of the World closed and received no financial help from their employer to defend themselves.
The matter had been "hanging over the head" of the journalist for "a few days short of three years" and their "life had been on hold" all that time.
Yesterday this reporter was given a suspended six-month prison sentence by Judge Wide at the Old Bailey. The judge also ordered the journalist to do 150 hours of unpaid work and to accept a tagged curfew from 6pm to 7am every night for three months "as a daily reminder of how close to prison you came".
The journalist had argued that it was in the public interest for people to know about the life Venables was leading, which included having a personal trainer and being given board games:
"This was a public interest story we were writing about Jon Venables, who abducted a two-year-old from a shopping centre, tortured and murdered him.
He had been taken in by the prison service, given millions of pounds for a new identity and then repeat-offended, and the prison service deal with it by making his life as comfortable as possible. Public interest. What sort of message are they sending out to him that it’s OK to look at two-year-olds being raped?”
Journalists have to obey the law. There is little public sympathy for those in an industry whose task is to expose wrongdoing who get caught misbehaving themselves.
But in an environment in which paying for information was routine, where neither the editors' code nor McNae, the journalists' legal bible, mentioned a word about it being illegal to pay public officials, did this reporter deserve to be made an example of in this way?
To put this sentence into context, look at the phone hacking trial. The private investigator Glen Mulcaire was also given a suspended six-month sentence, coupled with 200 hours of community service, for hacking hundreds of phones and two journalists who conspired with him were given suspended sentences with similar community service orders.
I merely ask: Was justice served at the Central Criminal Court yesterday?
Oh, by the way, all those quotes in grey italics. They were spoken by the judge.