Extreme-porn officer misused police database
Apolice officer previously punished for sharing “appalling footage” in a WhatsApp holiday group chat was also caught misusing the Police National Computer.
Christopher Owen was given a community order in July last year for possessing extreme pornography and was fined on Tuesday for unlawfully obtaining personal data.
Sentencing him at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Eleri Rees noted the offending was “particularly shocking” because he was involved in training new police officers at the time.
Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said the police started investigating the defendant at the end of 2016 regarding alleged misuse of the computer system.
Mr Griffiths told the court: “He was a serving police officer at the time of these offences.”
The court heard Owen accessed the Police National Computer – which holds records of people’s convictions and cautions – for nonpolice purposes.
Prosecutors said he would have seen a reminder every time he logged in that the system should only be used for police work and any other use was a criminal offence.
The counts related to February 14, 2015, and March 10, 2016, when he obtained personal information without the consent of the data controller.
Mr Griffiths said the prosecution could not prove that he disclosed the data to anyone else.
When he was interviewed, Owen said his use of the system was legitimate.
Judge Rees dealt with him last year in relation to other material found on his phone.
On that occasion, the court heard colleagues found “appalling” videos of extreme pornography on his phone.
Owen admitted two counts of possessing extreme pornographic images.
Mark Cotter QC, representing him at that hearing, emphasised Owen was not watching the videos for sexual gratification and suggested the case showed “real dangers” of using WhatsApp.
The court heard he joined a group on the messaging app to organise a group holiday.
Mr Cotter added: “This is a situation where the images were exchanged for shock value.”
Judge Rees described the images as “appalling”, adding: “Being a police officer, he was in a better position than most to understand the seriousness.”
He was given a 12-month community order, requiring him to complete 15 days of a rehabilitation activity and comply with a four-month curfew, as well as paying £145 towards costs.
In her sentencing remarks then, Judge Rees told the defendant: “You will pay a heavy price.”
Mr Griffiths confirmed Owen has since been dismissed from the police.
The 41-year-old, from Parkwood in Gowerton, Swansea, admitted obtaining personal data.
Helen Randall, mitigating, asked for credit for his guilty plea, even though it came at a late stage, stressing that no witnesses had to come to court and that the offences dated back two years.
Judge Rees described the offending as a “gross breach of trust”.
She noted he had been serving as a police officer for 15 years and told the defendant it was hard to understand his motivation.
The judge said it was “particularly shocking” he would disregard the rules he was fully aware of while training new police officers.
Owen was fined £1,250 on each count and ordered to pay £1,200 towards prosecution costs along with a £120 victim surcharge.