Politician wrote glowing reference for controversial officer

 

A Queensland politician is under fire after writing a glowing reference for a police officer busted for leaking the address of a domestic violence victim to her abusive ex.

Senior Constable Neil Punchard was last year given a suspended jail sentence and a criminal conviction after pleading guilty to nine counts of computer hacking to pass on the woman's address to her former partner, his childhood friend.

However, his conviction and jail sentence were overturned this week in a stunning appeal verdict which has left the furious victim, a Gold Coast mum, demanding Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll dismiss Punchard - who has been stood down on full pay for more than two years.

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But her fury was further heightened when it was revealed Punchard received a glowing character reference from Redland City councillor Julie Talty which was submitted as part of the evidence in the appeal.

Redland councillor Julie Talty, who provided a character reference for Senior Constable Neil Punchard. Picture: supplied
Redland councillor Julie Talty, who provided a character reference for Senior Constable Neil Punchard. Picture: supplied

Punchard's sentence was reduced to 140 hours of community service in a judgment by Judge Craig Chowdhury on Tuesday.

Ms Talty, who ran for the LNP against Queensland Sports Minister Mick de Brenni at the last State election, was three years ago subjected to a terrifying threat that led to police charging a man who had allegedly vowed to break her husband's legs.

In a written statement yesterday, she said the request for the reference was made 'some years ago' and she was not aware of the particulars of the case at the time.

Domestic violence should never be condoned, and I would always offer my support to anyone in need of help," she said.

"I am sorry that this family have been through an awful trauma and that they have endured a long court process.

"The reference … outlined the positive contributions of Mr Punchard in the local community, it was not intended to make any comment or judgment about the matters raised in the court."

Senior Constable Neil Punchard leaves court during his lengthy case for leaking the address of a domestic violence victim. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Senior Constable Neil Punchard leaves court during his lengthy case for leaking the address of a domestic violence victim. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

 

The victim, who moved house after the ordeal and has since settled a compensation case with the Queensland Police Service, said it was 'disgraceful' of Councillor Talty to write a character reference for Punchard, who was exposed in The Courier-Mail almost five years ago for leaking her address to his friend and then joking about how she would 'flip out'.

"To find out that a city councillor would write such a glowing reference for him, I find that disgraceful," she said.

"If she is impressed with his work in the community, well he was out there endangering the lives of community members.

"She should have known better, especially after she and her daughter were subjected to threats of violence."

In 2017, Ms Talty made a complaint to police after a man allegedly approached her and her 23-year-old daughter in a shopping centre car park and made violent threats against her husband.

Ms Carroll, who is under growing pressure to sack Punchard, on Tuesday said the QPS would 'consider the outcome of the officer's appeal'.

Late yesterday, a QPS spokesperson said there had been no further developments.

There are warrants out for the woman's ex, who is believed to have moved overseas.

Originally published as Politician wrote glowing reference for controversial officer


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