Commissioner ‘orders review’ into officer who leaked woman’s address to allegedly abusive partner


Updated

May 11, 2018 18:24:36

A Queensland police officer accused of leaking a woman’s address to her allegedly abusive former partner was docked up to $1,000 in pay but avoided prosecution because of concerns about evidence, the woman has told the ABC.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has ordered a senior investigator to review the investigation of Senior Constable Neil Punchard after meeting with the woman on Wednesday.

Elizabeth (not her real name for legal reasons) told the ABC Mr Stewart said there was no prosecution of the officer because of concerns that evidence, including text messages containing the alleged leak, could not be put before a court.

The meeting followed criticism from the Crime and Corruption Commission over the level of information police gave to Elizabeth about the outcome of her complaint.

Mr Stewart has come under pressure to explain why Senior Constable Punchard was subject to disciplinary action but not prosecution.

Elizabeth said Mr Stewart was accompanied by a lawyer and recorded the meeting.

She said he explained this was because she is suing the police for breach of privacy in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Elizabeth said Mr Stewart told her Senior Constable Punchard had been flagged internally by the Queensland Police Service as a security risk around access to the confidential police database.

She said Mr Stewart told her that Senior Constable Punchard was subject to an ongoing sanction that meant his pay was cut by “between $500 and $1,000”, although it is not clear over what time period this is being applied.

Elizabeth also said Mr Stewart told her “there wasn’t evidence to put before the court” about the officer illegally accessing the confidential police database to get her address.

A spokesman for Mr Stewart told the ABC that he made a commitment in the meeting “to have a senior investigator further consider the investigation file”.

Elizabeth said she was grateful for the meeting “so that we could raise our concerns and have our questions answered”.

“I am sincerely hoping that we will achieve a better outcome. We just want to feel safe and protected. I have three children to protect,” she said.

In copies of text messages dated February 3, 2014, and seen by the ABC, Senior Constable Punchard asked Elizabeth’s former partner how to spell the names of both her new husband and her father-in-law.

The officer then sent an address that Elizabeth confirmed was where she lived at that time.

She and her family have since moved.

In texts, Senior Constable Punchard then told Elizabeth’s former partner: “No need to ask her now.”

“Just tell her you know it now via freedom of information?”

He then said: “She will be pissed … Even better just tell her you know where she lives and leave it at that. Lol. She will flip.

“I await the email and her reply. Lol. She will f…ing explode. Lmao.”

Elizabeth said the text messages were contained in a phone she owned that had been used for a time by her former partner then returned to her.

Police had twice downloaded the phone’s contents, she said.

Her former partner has been subject to an ongoing domestic violence order and Elizabeth is listed as “high-risk aggrieved” by the police domestic violence taskforce.

In April last year, an assistant commissioner wrote to her to say that an investigation “provided there was sufficient evidence to support the allegations made by you” and that the officer had been given disciplinary action, which was not disclosed.

When asked why no charges resulted, she said Mr Stewart told her he was concerned evidence via the phone was “tainted”.

She said he declined to tell her whether Senior Constable Punchard’s phone was seized.

Elizabeth said she asked for a copy of her record from the confidential police database to check who had accessed it.

But she said Mr Stewart insisted he could not let her obtain a copy, although he offered to check her record himself.

Under police policy, Senior Constable Punchard is unable to speak to the media.

Topics:

domestic-violence,

police,

activism-and-lobbying,

public-sector,

government-and-politics,

brisbane-4000,

qld

First posted

May 11, 2018 05:51:20



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