A POLICE officer who accessed confidential information about an investigation into a man she was “infatuated with” and fabricated an alibi to help clear his name has been jailed for a maximum of two-and-a-half years.
Former senior constable Donna Michelle Sharpe, 46, appeared in Newcastle District Court on Friday after pleading guilty to two counts of perverting the course of justice, hindering an investigation of a serious indictable offence and willful misconduct in public office.
In January, 2006, Sharpe’s then “casual” boyfriend stole a fishing boat from the Williamtown RAAF Base.
CCTV footage from the base showed Sharpe’s boyfriend’s licence plate and he was contacted by police who told him he was under investigation. The man then met up with Sharpe, who said she could access the police internal information system, known as COPS, and read the entry for the boat theft.
Under the guise that her boyfriend’s vehicle was blocking a driveway, Sharpe accessed and passed on confidential information about the investigation to him. “The CCTV was unable to identify who was driving your car,” Sharpe told him.
From there the pair met up 15 to 20 times to develop an alibi for the man, fabricating a story that they were together in Sydney on the day the boat was stolen.
The man gave a police interview to that effect in March 2006, and then a month later, Sharpe followed suit, providing a signed statement claiming they were in Sydney. The subterfuge initially had the desired effect, with investigating police determining that no charges could be laid against the man due to Sharpe’s alibi.
But when police delved deeper into Sharpe’s story, the alibi began to fall apart with banking and phone records placing her in Wollongong on the day of the boat theft. Police sought to charge Sharpe’s boyfriend with larceny over the theft of the boat in March, 2008, but were unable to locate and charge him until September, 2016. He pleaded guilty and in April last year was ordered to complete 150 hours of community service.
Sharpe will be eligible for parole in 15 months.