A Frankston police station custody officer has been fined $20,000 for leaking footage of vulnerable people in the cells, including one who was self-harming, to his friends and laughing about it.
Dale Cowan, 30, pleaded guilty in the Frankston Magistrates Court on Tuesday to releasing police information without a reasonable excuse after he filmed a copy of the CCTV vision from the cells on his phone and, on three occasions, sent the footage out.
His barrister, Rahmin de Kretser, said it was apparent from the now notorious case where Victoria Police officers leaked photographs of former North Melbourne coach Dani Laidley in custody, that the behaviour was a cultural issue within the force.
“It appears that conduct of this type was normalised in the workplace, and he instructs he’d seen more senior members of Victoria Police distribute similar type images,” Mr de Kretser said.
Prosecutor Toni Stokes said that in 2019, Cowan sent footage to his fiancee of a man in the cells lying naked and trying to strangle himself with overalls.
“WTF [what the f—] was he doing?” his fiancee texted.
“Trying to strangle himself,” Cowan replied.
Cowan texted that the man was given the overalls because he “nuded-up”.
“Hahaha wow. Stay naked then bitch,” his fiancee replied, before writing: “I love you and all your authority looking hot.”
He also sent footage to other police of another arrested man who had jumped from the sink in the cells with the words: “How’s old mate bouncing.”