Ex-police officer fined over searches into wife’s ‘dating’
A FORMER police officer who breached data protection laws by using the police computer system to search for information on men who he suspected his estranged wife was dating has been fined £2,500.
Simon Brian Thomas pleaded guilty to three offences which occurred in January 2017 when his marriage was falling apart, the Magistrate’s Court heard.
The 48-year-old resigned from the States police after a career of 26 years as a result of his actions.
Outlining the case, police legal adviser Sam Morris said: ‘He knew the implications of his actions and that he was not permitted to conduct the searches he did,’ she said.
While separating, the couple were still living at the same address when the offences occurred.
The former officer admitted looking into details of two men he suspected might be involved with his wife and searching the name of a third with intent.
‘He was utilising police systems to identify males he suspected his wife was dating,’ said Ms Morris.
Advocate Matthew Jowitt, defending, said that the former officer had succumbed to ‘human temptation’ when ‘his private life went into meltdown’.
Advocate Jowitt criticised police management for not doing more to help Thomas as his senior officers were aware of what he was going through and the stress he was under. He argued that police management should have made him take leave.
‘If it had been better managed, he would not be sitting here today and would still be serving,’ Advocate Jowitt said.
He added that he had worked on two similar matters which were handled in internal police reviews and had not come to court.
‘He fell on his sword,’ Advocate Jowitt said of Thomas, who resigned in September 2017, losing tens of thousands of pounds in pension benefits.
Advocate Jowitt was also critical of the 20 months it took to bring the matter before the court while ‘it was hanging over’ his client.
In sentencing Thomas, Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris said the former police officer faced a ‘very human temptation’ and responded with a ‘very human failing’. But he said the court must send a clear message that those who hold personal data, such as public servants and medical professionals, cannot abuse the public trust.
Thomas was fined £1,000 on each charge of accessing data without consent and £500 for the intent to access charge. He was given seven days to pay the fines.
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