Detective denies spying on ex

DC Ciara Campbell
DC Ciara Campbell
  • DC Ciara Campbell allegedly accessed information on her ex-partner 200 times
  • She allegedly looked up information on her ex’s new flame on 50 further occasions
  • She denies unlawfully obtaining personal data and unauthorised access to computer material

A detective was “obsessed and irrational” when she accessed confidential police computer systems to check up on her ex-boyfriend and his new partner, a court has heard.

DC Ciara Campbell, formerly of Lancaster CID, allegedly accessed information on her ex-partner, PC Stuart Swarbrick, 200 times between January 7, 2013, and January 17, 2014.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that on 50 further occasions, she looked up information on his new flame, Alice Coxhead, a civilian police support worker.

Campbell, 43, of Bamber Bridge, denies three counts of unlawfully obtaining personal data and eight offences of unauthorised access to computer material under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The first two charges relate to her accessing information on Lancashire police systems between 2010 and 2012, about a harassment dispute involving her friend Amanda Holman, 54, and another woman called Rachel Lyne.

The third charge against Campbell relates to her checking on a defendant – Dean Harrison – who was accused of assaulting Rachel Lyne. He had approached Holman to ask her to be a witness, the court heard.

The other charges relate to Campbell accessing information through incident and human resourcing databases about her ex-partner, who is a Preston-based firearms officer, and his new partner, who is based at Hutton police HQ.

Geoffrey Lowe, prosecuting, said: “This case centres around inappropriate and unlawful use of the police computer system to which she has access.”

He explained that checks showed she accessed information about Ms Holman on February 10, 2012, and July 12, 2010, adding she may have done out of “some sort of misguided loyalty” to Holman.

Mr Lowe added: “Subsequently when she was interviewed she made a prepared statement. The Crown’s case is she had no business to do that.”

The court heard she also accessed the computer system on August 1, 2012, in relation to an alleged assault on Rachel Lyne by a man called Dean Harrison.

Campbell was arrested in March 2014 over the matters relating to Holman but examination of her personal iPad, which was seized by officers, revealed pictures of Alice Coxhead, leading to a further probe.

She was arrested again in July 2014 and again made a prepared statement.

Mr Lowe said: “It seemed the relationship came to an end on 2013. Mr Swarbrick commenced a relationship with Miss Coxhead.

“The defendant makes it clear she found the break up of that relationship very traumatic and what seems to have happened is as a result she has embarked on an obsessive and irrational course of conduct.

“This checking and constant re-checking is surprising because duties rarely change from day to day.

“As a result of inquiries the defendant’s phone and iPad were seized and what’s particularly significant is there were a large number of photographs obtained of Alice Coxhead. There are deleted inquiries about her, relating to her daughter and her father’s funeral.

“All of this, the Crown says, is reflective of the obsessive, irrational behaviour which drove this defendant to abuse the systems held by Lancashire Constabulary.”

David Temkin, defending, said: “She did what she did in the first counts for a police purpose – the provision of information she says had been provided to her by her friend Amanda Holman. She wished to give details of her home address.”

He explained in respect of the third charge regarding the assault she wanted to check she would have no involvement in the assault case to be careful there was no position that might compromise her, as she was a serving officer. He added: “The actions she took were rational and sensible.”

“On the remaining counts it is said she knew she was not authorised to access that data. She says she didn’t know that at all, she had many reasons to form the view that what she was doing was perfectly acceptable.”

He added she had not wanted to bump into or confront her ex or his new partner at work and wanted to “just get on with her job”.

The jury of five women and seven men were shown computer slides of the security process officers have to go through to get into the system.

Giving evidence, DC Les Clegg, of Lancashire police’s anti-corruption team, said text messages between Holman and the defendant appeared to correspond to her accessing information about Dean Harrison.

In a later message, Holman had thanked her and indicated she would not be “speaking to him” – said by the Crown to refer to Dean Harrison.