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Jul 6, 10:24 AM EDT

Final News of the World journalist sentenced over hacking


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LONDON (AP) -- Four years after a phone-hacking scandal sank the News of the World, the last of the tabloid's journalists to face charges has been sentenced.

A judge on Monday gave ex-features editor Jules Stenson a four-month suspended sentence, 200 hours community service and a 5,000 pound ($7,800) fine for conspiring to hack phones.

The 49-year-old journalist broke down in tears as the judge told him he would not be going to prison.

Judge John Saunders said Stenson was under intense pressure to get scoops when he turned to phone hacking, which was already widespread at the newspaper.

In 2005-2006, Stenson supervised Dan Evans, a reporter who has admitted hacking and has testified in court against his former colleagues. Evans eavesdropped on the voicemail messages of celebrities including actress Sienna Miller, soccer star Sol Campbell and boxer Amir Khan.

The judge said Stenson "was put in a position of competing with people working on the news desk who he knew were phone hacking, and his editor condoned the practice."

He said Stenson's attitude was, "if you can't beat them, join them."

The July 2011 revelation that the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid had eavesdropped on the voicemails of a teenage murder victim - as well as celebrities, politicians and the royal family - rocked Britain's media, political and police establishments.

Murdoch shut down the 168-year-old newspaper, and his News Corp. cooperated with a police investigation that saw dozens of its staff arrested.

Nine News of the World employees have been convicted of hacking, including Andy Coulson, a former editor who served as Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief. He was sentenced last year to 18 months in prison.

Outside court, Stenson apologized to hacking victims and to News of the World staff, "99 percent of whom had no involvement in hacking and had their lives severely affected by the action that we - but primarily Andy Coulson - took."

The police investigation initially focused on Murdoch's tabloids but later expanded to take in the rival Mirror Group of newspapers.

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