Trial begins of police officer charged with illegally accessing data

PC Nicole Short. (Pic: George McLuskie)
PC Nicole Short. (Pic: George McLuskie)

A police officer said to have been badly hurt in the incident that led to the death of Kirkcaldy man Sheku Bayoh went on trial today (Friday, October 7) accused of accessing personal police data. Nicole Short (30), of Glenrothes, is facing Data Protection Act charges in the trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

Detective Inspector Charles Duncan (51) told the trial that Short was assigned to the Glenrothes CID crime team, where he was her second-in-line manager.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court
Pic Neil Hanna

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court Pic Neil Hanna

She is alleged to have illegally accessed crime files and intelligence database entries relating to two brothers, Dale and Matthew Innes, for “non-policing purposes”.

Fiscal depute Dev Kapadia asked DI Duncan if there was any reason why PC Short might have accessed these crime files.

He replied: “I understand she was in a relationship with one of the males.”

Shelagh McCall QC, defending, asked the court to disregard that information, claiming it was based on “hearsay”.

Mr Kapadia asked: “Were you aware of any intelligence that required these two individuals to be targeted?”

He replied: “No.”

Short, of Glenrothes, denies three charges. She is accused of accessing confidential information on the Police Scotland computer system in October 2012.

She is also accused of obtaining personal data relating to two men from Fife Constabulary’s Crimefile system and the Scottish Intelligence Database for non-policing purposes in a separate incident.

The trial heard Short was suspended from duty in October 2012 as a result of the allegations.

The summary trial before Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC, sitting alone without a jury, continues.

At pre-trial hearings the court was told Short had been involved in an incident in Kirkcaldy that left her in a “complicated medical state”.

Her lawyers had asked for reporting of the court case to be banned until a fatal accident inquiry into Sheku Bayoh’s death had been held or until the conclusion of Short’s case. That move was rejected by the court.

Sheku Bayoh collapsed and died after being restrained by officers who were following up reports of a suspect wielding a knife.

The case is being investigated by the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner.

Police Federation bosses say Short suffered “significant” injuries during the incident.