Senior Constable Neil Punchard leaves the Magistrates Court in Brisbane in October last year. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Senior Constable Neil Punchard leaves the Magistrates Court in Brisbane in October last year. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

Police appeal officer’s sentence

The Queensland Police Service will appeal a District Court judgment relating to the sentencing of a police officer who leaked the home address of a domestic violence victim to her ex-partner.

The court this month overturned the suspended jail sentence and conviction handed to Senior Constable Neil Punchard for computer hacking after he searched the police computer system and leaked an address of a domestic violence victim to her former partner.

He was originally sentenced to two months' prison, which was wholly suspended, but the court set aside the penalties and ordered him to complete 140 hours of community service with no conviction recorded.

"The decision to lodge the appeal was reached after careful consideration of the judgement and independent legal advice," police said in a statement.

"This has taken some time due to the seriousness of this matter and the need to give it thorough consideration in the context of a complex legal framework.

"Once the appeal process has been finalised, the Commissioner will then consider the effect of the decision on the assessment of the suitability of the officer to remain employed by the QPS. The officer remains suspended from duty."

Previous court hearings heard Punchard gave the address to a man who was his childhood friend.

In September, his conviction and sentence were overturned on appeal, leaving the furious victim demanding his dismissal.

Punchard has been stood down on full pay for more than two years.

In a hearing in July, barrister Angus Edwards, who appeared for the QPS, said Punchard inflamed an acrimonious situation by sending messages to his friend, calling the victim a "b*tch".

"The complainant didn't provide her address subject to those court orders for reasons that she is the subject of domestic violence orders," Mr Edwards said.

"Now he (Punchard) didn't know that but he didn't bother to inquire.

"All he did was take one side of the story as a serving police officer and unilaterally decided he was going to breach the trust that he had been given and provide information …

"He called her a b*tch, he said to f**k … her over, he said 'the b*tch needs to fall on her own sword for the battle she started', and he'd say things to (the man) like 'I know you're screaming inside, let loose on her'.

"So he knew there were issues there. He might not have known there was domestic violence but he took that risk.

"And his job was rather to protect members of the community from those risks and he behaved in the exact opposite way of what was expected of him."


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