Corrupt Auckland cop guilty of illegally accessing police intelligence system

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Jun 2019, 1:03PM
The 30-year-old constable pleaded guilty to accessing the police's national intelligence application system (NIA) for a dishonest purpose.
The 30-year-old constable pleaded guilty to accessing the police's national intelligence application system (NIA) for a dishonest purpose.

Corrupt Auckland cop guilty of illegally accessing police intelligence system

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Jun 2019, 1:03PM

A corrupt Auckland police officer has admitted illegally accessing the police's national intelligence computer system.

The 30-year-old man, who has interim name suppression, appeared this morning in the Auckland District Court where he pleaded guilty to one charge.

He was accused of accessing the police's national intelligence application system (NIA) for a dishonest purpose.

Storing personal information, the NIA holds details about people's vehicles, locations, phone numbers and criminal histories.

There are nearly two million people, just over 40 per cent of the New Zealand population, who appear in the NIA with an alert against their name.

The constable accessed the intelligence system between February 18 last year and March 25 this year, court documents viewed by the Herald show.

The court, however, heard today a summary of facts detailing the officer's offending was still being compiled and was not available for Judge Sarah Fleming this morning.

The officer's lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg QC, also said she would be seeking permanent name suppression for her client, who was remanded on bail until his sentencing later this year.

An appeal hearing over the dishonest officer's continued interim name suppression is due to be held later this month.

The guilty officer has been stood down from duty and a police employment investigation will also follow.

Police declined to comment about the case before the man's sentencing.

However, in a statement, Detective Superintendent Dave Lynch said no other police officers were under investigation as part of the investigation.

Civil restraining orders against the constable, under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act have also earlier been granted by the High Court.

The legislation allows for the forfeiture of property which has been derived directly or indirectly from significant criminal activity, or that represents the value of a person's unlawfully derived income.

The guilty cop is, however, not the first police staffer to fall foul of the law by using the NIA for illegal purposes.

In 2017, former Auckland constable Jeremy Malifa stalked a 21 women using information from the NIA in what Judge Heemi Taumaunu described as a "predatory manner".

The now 36-year-old was sentenced to 400 hours of community work, 12 months' supervision, six months' community detention and ordered to pay $200 to each of his victims.

Former police constable Jeremy Malifa, pictured during his sentencing in July 2017. Photo / Michael Craig

Former police constable Jeremy Malifa, pictured during his sentencing in July 2017. Photo / Michael Craig

Malifa said he would access the computer system to find women he thought would be receptive to his advances or that he thought were "good looking", court documents earlier obtained by the Herald read.

The women he searched included an old acquaintance, those involved in police incidents and traffic stops, and the daughter of an unknown man.

Court documents show Malifa was using the NIA to "get a better understanding of [the women] to assist him with trying to encourage [them] into starting a relationship with him".

Once he learned of their personal lives he would orchestrate meetings with them and on one occasion even arrived unannounced at a victim's front door.

"You have brought shame and embarrassment to the police as a result of your actions," Judge Taumaunu said.

After sentencing, Malifa told the Herald: "Obviously, I've separated from my wife, but I've still got three young kids so obviously I'm happy not to be in jail."

Detective Inspector Hayden Mander also said in an exclusive interview that a witness first brought Malifa's offending to the attention of police.

Police then began investigating and after a lengthy internal investigation Malifa resigned from his duties in December 2015.

"The extent of his offending and the offending itself shocked a lot of police who have worked with him in the past," Mander said.

As a result of Malifa's crimes, the NIA was updated to no longer use a manual audit process.

Malifa went on to work as a builder after his police career was left in tatters.

Corrupt police prosecutor Timothy Sarah. Photo / File

Corrupt police prosecutor Timothy Sarah. Photo / File

Other police employees to illegally use the NIA system include an Auckland prosecutor, who was arrested in 2011 after it was discovered he was dealing methamphetamine.

Timothy Sarah was jailed for four years in 2013 on three charges of supplying meth, one charge of possessing the class A drug and one charge of dishonestly accessing a computer system.

Sarah admitted to using the NIA to obtain information about fellow drug dealers and associates so he could warn them if they had a tail or were being investigated by police.

Former West Auckland Constable Peter Pakau was also caught in 2013 supplying information from the intelligence database to a criminal associate and gang members.

He was later sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for drugs and corruption crimes, which included accepting bribes.

The Commissioner of Police was also successful in seizing Pakau's police superannuation through the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act.

Auckland motorway support officer Darren Hodgetts was bribed into using the NIA to search and leak details of a man who was under surveillance in the major police drug sting code-named Operation Ark.

The non-sworn police worker was sentenced in 2012 to four months' community detention.

And in 2011, an internal investigation found a North Shore senior constable was using the software to leak information to his wife in a bid to win a custody battle with her ex-husband.

Terry Beatson, who kept his job with the police despite the breach, used the NIA to open the man's file 17 times over four years.

The former husband discovered the leak when he found private details in an affidavit his ex-wife filed with the Family Court.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner ruled the police breached two principles of the Privacy Act and police later agreed to pay the ex-husband $3500 for emotional harm, $1232 towards his legal bill and also write him a written apology.

 

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