National News

Qld cop wins appeal over DV leak

A Queensland police officer who leaked the address of a domestic violence survivor to her ex-husband has had his jail sentence set aside.

Neil Glen Punchard, 54, received a wholly suspended two-month jail sentence in October after pleading guilty to nine counts of computer hacking in 2013 and 2014.

He appealed the harshness of the sentence, saying he should have been fined with no conviction recorded.

District Court Judge Craig Chowdhury on Tuesday ordered Punchard be sentenced to 100 hours of community service on one charge and 40 hours on another.

On another two charges he was convicted, but not further punished and no convictions were recorded.

The senior constable used police computers nine times over 12 months to access restricted information about a long-term friend and his ex-wife, who were going through an acrimonious break-up, and her new partner.

Judge Chowdhury said in his published reasons that a police officer with Punchard's experience "should have known better than to involve himself in an acrimonious family dispute".

But he found a jail sentence was "excessive when having regard to the precise circumstances of the offending, the mitigating factors, and sentences imposed by magistrates for this specific offence in other cases".

The woman at the centre of the long-running legal battle, whose name cannot be published for legal reasons, confronted Judge Chowdhury after he handed down his judgment.

"I am not discussing my decision. Under our system I have delivered my decision, it is public and you can have regard," he said before adjourning the court.

Outside court, the victim said she was incredibly disappointed by the decision.

"I think I have been let down by the legal system," she said.

"I can't understand how he has gotten off any punishment and the sentence has been lowered."

She called on police commissioner Katarina Carroll to sack Punchard, despite the officer escaping a conviction, saying it was the only way to show she is serious about protecting women and children, victims of domestic violence and privacy breaches.

"It is abhorrent to have somebody who has committed such a serious offence to still be employed by the QPS," the woman told reporters.

The Queensland Police Service said Punchard was suspended from duty but could not confirm if he would keep his job, saying the outcome of the appeal would be considered.

"The Commissioner has publicly acknowledged that a failure to discharge prescribed responsibilities in an ethical, professional and lawful manner erodes public trust and confidence," the QPS said in a statement.

"The QPS has acknowledged that the unlawful or improper use of information can have significant consequences and impacts for those individuals whose privacy have been breached, and has expressed sincere regret."

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