Ex-officer is fined £9,600 for misuse of PSNI computer
A former PSNI officer who used the police database to access information, including records of a girlfriend and a man who had accused him of assault, has been fined almost £10,000.
Belfast Crown Court heard that, over a four-year period from January 2005 until January 2009, 49-year-old Alan Marchini accessed the database 36 times without authorisation to view police records.
Prosecuting lawyer Peter Magill told the court that among the checks Marchini carried out were searches on a woman he was "romantically engaged with", details of a man who had accused him of common assault, a car which he had sold, and even members of his own family.
He said Marchini conducted searches into his accuser just "some hours" before he was due to be interviewed about the allegations, but added that the former constable would not have gained any advantage from it.
The lawyer said that of all the information Marchini would have gleaned from the database, there was no evidence that it had been divulged or passed on to anyone let alone sold on for profit, and described it as "utterly useless".
Arrested and interviewed in November 2009, Marchini, whose address was given as care of Musgrave PSNI station, admitted to what he had done and claimed it had been "out of curiosity and boredom".
The former police officer had been due to go on trial yesterday accused of two counts of misfeasance in a public office and a further 36 charges of obtaining or trying to obtain personal data, but the misconduct charges were left on the books after he pleaded guilty to wrongly using the police database.
Defence lawyer Jonathan Brown revealed the irony of the case in that during internal disciplinary proceedings against Marchini, he had been told that had it not been for the misconduct charges, he would not have been prosecuted.
He told the court that as a result of the internal proceedings, Marchini was "invited to resign" from the police after 29 years service and having done so, was not able to claim £90,000 under the Patten scheme.
"Despite his impeccable service record he has suffered a very significant and very severe financial penalty already," said the lawyer, who further revealed that Marchini now works as a bodyguard for a "significant businessman".
In fining Marchini a total of £9,600, Judge Tom Burgess said he accepted Marchini had already "paid a very heavy price" for what he had done and had "besmirched a very good record".
He added, however, that he had to mark the offences with a substantial fine "to bring home to anyone vested with the power to access this information database that they have a duty to those people whose information is stored on it and that any breach could potentially undermine the confidence that the public have".