Sheku cop cleared of data protection charges

PC Nicole Short enters Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.  Pic: George McLuskie
PC Nicole Short enters Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court. Pic: George McLuskie

A police officer said to have been hurt in an incident leading to the death of Sheku Bayoh has been cleared of charges under the Data Protection Act.

Nicole Short was found not guilty at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

She told the court she viewed a series of database entries about a “known criminal” - but denied she had accessed the records about Dale Innes and his suspected drug dealer brother Matthew for “personal or non policing purposes”.

PC Short (30) faces data protection charges over allegations she accessed confidential files relating to three males “without a policing purpose”.

At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court today (Thursday) she gave evidence in her own defence after her lawyer failed in a bid to have the charges thrown out.

She was found not guilty by Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC.

PC Short told the court Dale Innes had been at Glenrothes High School with her and had added her on Facebook in autumn 2012 after seeing her in passing. They began exchanging private messages then exchanged phone numbers and began texting.

On the dates October 12 and 18, 2012, PC Short ran a series of searches about Mr Innes on the police Crimefile system and the Scottish Intelligence Database.

The court heard the crime files related to alleged assaults, public urination and drugs offences said to have been committed by Mr Innes, while the database entry referred to “Dale Innes and drug activity”.

PC Short said: “I went on annual leave shortly after that and didn’t meet him until I was on annual leave.

“I met him about three times.

“There had been a bulletin about his brother, Matthew Innes, being suspected of heroin dealing and mention of an unknown associate with a description.

“I accessed the files to see if there were any names associated with them that I could check on Facebook and the intelligence database to see if I could find a name.

“On one occasion I went to pick Dale up at his family home and saw a man matching that description there to see Matthew.

“I didn’t phone that in to my partner officer because I thought he would try to take all the credit for himself.”

PC Short also denied a suggestion that she had been “in conversation” with Dale Innes at the time she was looking at the entries.