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Senior Merseyside Police detective Mike Lawlor on trial for 'illegal data search'
9:01am Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
A COURT has heard how a senior police officer allegedly used the force's computer system to improperly access personal data.
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Lawlor, 45, was in charge of Merseyside police counter-terrorism response and investigation when he allegedly looked up records on a seizure of £150,000.
A jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard that Lawlor denies six offences of knowingly obtaining personal data on two women and four men on April 7, 2011.
He has also pleaded not guilty to one offence of attempting to obtain personal data two days later.
Duncan Bould, prosecuting, said that Lawlor, whose address cannot be revealed for legal reasons, was a regular in a pub along with a friend.
That friend was an associate of David Hunter, a man rumoured to have a criminal past, and he in turn was a friend of Stanley Feerick.
Mr Feerick featured in a 2005 police investigation into Class A drugs and on February 16, 2011 £150,000 cash was seized from his Knowsley home during a police raid.
The following month Lawlor instigated the production of a computer spreadsheet showing details of all cash seizures within the Merseyside Police area from April 2010. It revealed 356 cases, including that at Feerick's home in Longreach Road.
On April 7 Lawlor logged onto the police computer and specifically searched for incidents on the day Feerick's home was raided.
Mr Bould claimed he looked at eight incident logs accessing personal data of two people. But the prosecutor alleged this was a "smokescreen to cover up the real subject of his interest - the search and seizure of £150,000”.
Lawlor also entered the name of Feerick's road and accessed personal details of two people associated with incidents in that road. Mr Bould claimed this was part of the smokescreen and intended to give the superficial appearance of normality.
Mr Bould claimed that Lawlor had been seen with Feerick and Hunter on May 19, 2011, adding: "This only goes to reinforce the fact that these searches were personally motivated as opposed to professionally motivated."
The court heard that Lawlor admitted that Hunter had asked about the likelihood of ‘Big Stan’ (Feerick) getting his money back. Lawlor is said to have replied it was “highly unlikely”.
In prepared statements Lawlor, an acting Detective Superintendent in the Intelligence and Security Bureau before his arrest, said his use of the databases was motivated to information gathering for his department’s involvement in Proceeds of Crime Act seizures.
Mr Bould suggested if that was his motivation he would have set about it very differently.
The case continues