| 19.02,19. 05:42 PM |
Ex-police officer avoids jail time after sharing explicit photos of arrested woman
Photo: Former police officer Steven Albee outside court being shielded by a family member. (ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood)
An ex-police officer has narrowly avoided jail time after he shared explicit photos of a woman he had arrested.
Steven Albee, now 29, was working at a traffic stop in Sydney's west in April 2017 when a woman refused a roadside drug test.
She was taken to the police cells at St Marys where her mobile phone was analysed, and four intimate and explicit photos of her and her partner were found.
Albee then sent two of those photos in a Facebook group chat to four police colleagues.
He pleaded guilty to the offence in November and was today given a two-year good behaviour bond.
Albee looked unwell throughout the proceedings, leaving the court room periodically and having to sit down in the middle of his sentencing.
He was later attended to by a paramedic and left the court in an ambulance.
Cop 'likely suffering from PTSD'
Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson said Albee would have gone to jail if not for a letter from the police force detailing his "significant assistance" to authorities.
She said it was a confidential matter and did not go into further detail.
She also referred to a doctor's report saying Albee was likely suffering from PTSD at the time.
"You've accepted the consequence of your behaviour and you've resigned from the police force," Magistrate Atkinson said.
"Police are in a unique position, they are given an important role … they are privy to a significant amount of very sensitive information and there are strict guidelines as to what a police officer may or may not do.
"People need to understand they cannot use that data except in the way it is meant to be used."
The two people in the photos said they were angry, upset and embarrassed that the photos had been distributed by Albee.
Magistrate Atkinson said the offending was in the mid-range of seriousness, and recorded a conviction.
"You need to understand — the community needs to understand — this is serious," she told Albee in the sentencing.
Offences 'flagrantly contradicted' community expectations
Prosecutor Karthigeyan Kanagasabapathy said Albee's conduct did not meet the community's expectations of police officers.
"[He] engaged in this conduct using the powers of a serving police officer … with the resources that are given to a serving police officer for the safety of the community," he said.
"The offences flagrantly contradicted the expectations of the community of how they'd expect even just an ordinary citizen to behave, let alone [a police officer]."
Albee's lawyer Warwick Anderson said his client was very remorseful for what he had done.
"He's paid a very heavy price for what people would consider a silly mistake," he said.
"He's horrified, he's lost his career."
Mr Anderson said he did not know why his client had sent the photos and he had apologised to the victims.
After the sentencing, Albee lay on a couch in the foyer of the Downing Centre Court until he left in an ambulance, with family attempting to shield him from the media.