COP PUT ON SPOT: Court told of former colleague's pressure for a favour

Lee McCarthy
Lee McCarthy

SUSPENDED Albury police officer Lee Michael McCarthy yesterday pleaded guilty to checking the department’s confidential computer system for a former colleague who thought she may be under investigation.

He and Regina Watson then concocted a story about her name possibly being used in a traffic matter to cover their tracks.

The circumstances leading to McCarthy later being charged after a police professional standards investigation were outlined in Albury Local Court to magistrate Tony Murray yesterday.

The court was told McCarthy had answered the phone when Watson rang the Albury station’s main switch on August 12.

Watson joked with Mc­Carthy before asking him for a favour, to “look her up”.

He asked her why and said, as a former officer, she would be “flagged”.

She said she thought she was being investigated and convinced McCarthy to access her details.

“I’ve heard I’m being looked at,” Watson said.

McCarthy, 52, yesterday pleaded guilty to accessing restricted data held in a computer. A similar charge was withdrawn.

Solicitor Greg Willis sought to have McCarthy dealt with under the Mental Health Criminal Procedure Act and medical reports were tendered.

Mr Murray read them and said one suggested McCarthy was suffering chronic post traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Willis said the issue would have been more serious had McCarthy provided information about a third party.

The information he passed on indicated there was no record of an investigation.

“The defendant did not get any benefit out of it,” Mr Willis said.

He said there was no corrupt motive and McCarthy was guilty of an error of judgment.

“One of the most salient matters in this legislation is general deterrence,” Mr Murray said.

But Mr Willis said general deterrence was given less weight with mental health issues.

McCarthy, who is suspended without pay, faces a maximum penalty of two-years jail.

At the time of the offence, he was on a two-year bond without conviction over an assault at Howlong in 2012.

McCarthy pleaded guilty to assaulting Howlong man Paul Wraith in the chest before punching him in the mouth once and 10 times in the left rib area.

Mr Murray has adjourned sentencing for Mr Willis and a Director of Public Prosecutions representative to provide more information