Cop wins appeal after leaking victim's information to abuser
A Queensland cop who leaked the home address of a domestic violence victim to her allegedly abusive ex-partner has won an appeal against a suspended jail sentence and the recording of a conviction against him.
Neil Punchard, 54, had been convicted and given a suspended sentence and faced the sack from the Queensland Police Service, after accessing the QPRIME database to forward the woman's address to her ex, a lifelong personal friend.
Punchard last year pleaded guilty to nine counts of computer hacking, stemming from a number of QPRIME breaches seven years ago.
At the time, The Courier-Mail revealed the contents of text messages between Punchard and his friend where they joked that the woman would "flip out" to know her ex had found out where she lived.
However, after appealing against the severity of the sentence, the senior constable has now had a two-month suspended jail term wiped from his slate, instead ordered to perform 140 hours of community service and no conviction recorded.
In delivering his findings on Tuesday at Beenleigh Court House, Judge Craig Chowdhury conceded the offences were serious and at least one offence created a risk to the victim, who eventually moved house.
But that didn't stop him overturning a suspended jail sentence and wiping a conviction.
Judge Chowdhury took note of Punchard's state of mind at the time after hearing evidence he was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
He also said Punchard had enjoyed an 'exemplary' police career and would struggle to find work in the current climate if he was dismissed from the QPS.
"It remains, however, a relevant consideration for me in assessing the impact that the recording of a conviction will have on the appellant's economic and social wellbeing, and his chances of finding employment," he said.
Judge Chowdhury said Punchard was extremely unlikely to reoffend and had suffered "extra-curial punishment" as a result of media scrutiny.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Cop wins appeal against sentence, conviction