PSNI officer accused of abusing his position to access data on former mistress and rogue builders
A senior PSNI officer allegedly abused his position to gain unauthorised access to police systems about incidents involving a former mistress and rogue builders harassing his elderly parents, a court heard yesterday.
Prosecution counsel claimed Iain Hall (52), went outside the organisation's chain of command by involving himself in ongoing investigations.
Mr Hall, a chief inspector with 33 years' policing experience, is charged with 11 counts of unauthorised access of material logged on the PSNI's command and control serials.
He denies the alleged offences, with his lawyer arguing there is no evidence he knew his actions lacked the necessary clearance.
The system he is said to have accessed is used to log reports of incidents made to the force.
Mr Hall, whose address was given as PSNI Knocknagoney in Belfast, appeared at the city's Magistrates Court for a contested hearing into incidents alleged to have taken place during 2012 and 2013.
Eoin Macdonald, prosecuting, said some of them involved command and control serials linked to the defendant's former mistress. It was claimed that she wanted to know if her property was secure.
Other charges are connected to a fight at Lisburn Leisureplex in Co Antrim while Mr Hall was there in his role as a scout leader.
He was said to be a witness to events in the aftermath of the alleged assault.
The officer is also accused of accessing the system without authority over activity in the area near his parents' home in Belfast. The couple had been suffering harassment at the hands of cowboy traders, the court heard.
District Judge Amanda Henderson was told that Mr Hall insisted he was acting as a police officer in the prevention and detection of crime.
But Mr Macdonald contended: "None of those excuses are accepted, and the defendant went outside the chain of command of the Police Service of Northern Ireland by involving himself in ongoing investigations."
The barrister claimed a senior officer who had served for 33 years should have known his duties would not have permitted him access.
"He was involved in operational policing and was in no way connected to any investigation of crime in the course of the roles he held at the time," Mr Macdonald said.
The court heard Mr Hall had taken a personal interest and had acted as a citizen.
However, the prosecutor submitted: "A regular citizen would not be able to access this information, and certainly someone as a witness in any crime should not be able to access this information.
Defence counsel Malcolm Irvine argued, however, that his client had no case to answer and should be acquitted.
He branded some of the evidence against his client "a shambles" and suggested the prosecution case had a "general sloppiness" to it,
"There's no evidence to the effect that anyone ever had a word in his ear and told him he shouldn't be doing this or desist from it," Mr Irvine said.
Following submissions, Judge Henderson reserved her decision as whether Hall has a case to answer until a later date.