​Sending photo of corpse not illegal

NO CRIME: Constable Megan McNamara.
NO CRIME: Constable Megan McNamara.

A POLICE officer who sent a photo of a corpse to her boyfriend contravened police regulations, but did not commit a crime, Newcastle Local Court has found.

Megan Clare McNamara said she sent the photo of the half-naked, deceased 84-year-old man to her then boyfriend to give him some insight into the kind of work she does.

The elderly man had died after a long-term illness and Constable McNamara, as officer in charge, had taken the photograph at his Cessnock home on her mobile phone because a doctor’s certificate was not yet available.

Later that day, Ms McNamara’s then partner, Garry Panton, messaged her about a bolt that had broken while he was repairing a vehicle.

She replied with a text saying ‘‘If it’s any consolation my day sucks too’’ with the picture of the deceased attached.

‘‘I just wanted him to understand – he used to make a big deal out of very small issues in his life,’’ Ms McNamara told the court during a hearing last month.

‘‘I wanted him to understand the stresses in my life and work.’’

When the relationship ended some months later, Mr Panton brought the image to police attention, saying it made him  uncomfortable.

Ms McNamara, 31, was charged  with interfering with a corpse and misusing a carriage service, and pleaded not guilty to both counts.

In court Ms McNamara explained that sometimes she and her colleagues used black humour in an effort to ‘‘try and deal with situations’’.

Magistrate Robert Stone dismissed the charges yesterday, saying  while the sending of the message was in  disregard and  contravention of the Police Code and Regulation prohibiting the sharing of information to outside third parties, it did not constitute an offence under the relevant law.