Conditional discharge for PSNI worker who obtained information from police files

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An administrative officer with the PSNI has admitted breaching the data protection act by obtaining information about a homophobic assault.

Bridgene McCleave, whose address was given on court papers as c/o PSNI Strand Road, pleaded guilty to obtaining information from police files about the assault in July 2008.

Derry Magistrates Court heard the 57-year-old had been employed by the PSNI since 2006 as an administrative assistant working closely with analysts in the District Intelligence Unit.

Her job was to log on to police computer files any incidents in the Derry, Limavady or Strabane area. On the date in question she recognised the name of an assault victim whom she once worked with in another workplace.

She noticed that the assault of her former work colleague had been logged as a homophobic hate crime.

McCleave then contacted a friend who also knew the victim and told the friend what she’d read on the computer. The following day her friend then contacted the assault victim to sympathise with him.

Defence barrister Paul Bacon said that ‘phone call “heaped misery on top of misery for the victim”.

He said McCleave’s actions were motivated by her genuine concern for her former work colleague.

The 57-year-old faced internal disciplinary proceedings in relation to the incident and four years later she was informed she was to be prosecuted for the offence.

Mr Bacon said McCleave has been on sick leave since last year and the case has had an effect on her mental health. He added that her “future employment is dependent on the outcome of this case”.

The barrister told the court the 57-year-old “is fully remorseful and apologises for her actions and asks the court to accept that her motivation was based on concern”.

District Judge Barney McElholm said he accepted there was no malicious intent on McCleave’s behalf.

He imposed a conditional discharge for twelve months.