Friday, 27 May 2011

POLICEWOMAN associated with a high-ranking figure of the Hells Angels has escaped conviction for accessing the force’s LEAP database for personal reasons.

Constable Lauren Elissa Conte, 29, formerly of Linton, was found guilty of one charge of accessing information contrary to duty, while she was a police officer at Camperdown in 2009.

The Ballarat Magistrates Court heard Conte had accessed the Victoria Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program on October 2, 2009, to find out personal information, dossier and drivers licence and vehicle registration details of Kellie Jade Turner, an associate of Paul Joseph Peterson, the sergeant-at-arms of the Hells Angels’ Nomads bikie club.

Three charges of accessing information contrary to duty — two of which were regarding Mr Peterson and one Ms Turner — were withdrawn after the magistrate found no proven contact between the parties at the time of the alleged offences.

Sergeant analyst Ian Douglas of the ethical standards division gave evidence, telling the court that phone records showed Mr Peterson and Conte had texted or called 37 times between late October and mid-November 2009.

But he said Conte had also been communicating with another mobile number, which was registered to Mr Peterson’s neighbour’s address.

The prosecution alleged Mr Peterson was using the phone, and that the pair had texted and called a further 141 times between late September and mid-October, and were in contact when Conte accessed confidential information regarding Ms Turner using the LEAP system on October 2.

Crown prosecutor Bob Johnson said the pair had likely commenced a personal relationship when Conte was stationed at Greensborough, which was where Mr Peterson was required to report as part of bail conditions while awaiting trial in August 2007.

Defence barrister Neil Hutton said Conte, who was transferred to Camperdown in mid-2008, was a lonely girl in a small country town and had been intrigued by Mr Peterson. He said the relationship may have been “texty-flirty”. In his final submission, Mr Hutton said Conte had “wrecked her life in the police force” and had been personally embarrassed and humiliated by media coverage.


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