An ex-police officer who admitted using a police data base to snoop on 21 women has been sentenced to 400 hours community work and six months community detention.
Jeremy Malifa, 34, was sentenced at the Auckland District Court on Tuesday after earlier pleading guilty to 21 charges of accessing police computer systems to retrieve personal information on 21 women.
He will also serve 12 months of supervision and was ordered to pay $200 to each victim.
In court on Tuesday, Judge Heemi Taumaunu called Malifa’s behaviour “predatory, calculated and manipulative”.
The offending took place between 2010 and 2016.
Malifa was sworn into the police force in 2008 but resigned at the end of 2015 as a result of his offences.
He used the police system to look up women he was attracted to and who he thought would be susceptible to his advances, Judge Taumaunu said.
He searched all of his victims multiple times, using details given to him as an officer and details of victims sourced outside of work.
Malifa used the police database to gain cellphone numbers, home addresses and personal information.
With multiple victims he went to their homes as an officer and would later send text messages.
He began sexual relationships with eight of the victims.
One victim, who he tried but failed to have a relationship with, was 13 years old at the time.
Some victims were met at crime scenes he attended as an officer, others were met on police training courses and outside of work.
He also used an alias.
The names of the complainants are suppressed.
Malifa and his wife had separated but Malifa continued to support her and their children, defence lawyer Graeme Newell said.
Malifa cried in the dock as the judge addressed his behaviour.
Judge Taumaunu said Malifa’s repetitive offending over six years was a gross breach of trust within the New Zealand police force and victims.
“Sentencing you today, it’s important to impose a sentence that holds you accountable for your offending.”
Judge Taumaunu began at a starting point of two years and eight months imprisonment, which was lessened by Malifa’s guilty plea and personal factors.
He also noted Malifa was remorseful for his actions and suffered from mental health issues.
But Judge Taumaunu took the opportunity to warn other officers that a starting point of two years and eight months imprisonment would be held for any officer who grossly misused the police data base.
“This also sends a message to other police officers of general deterrence,” he said.
After the sentence was imposed, Auckland City Police District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus said the offending was “wholly distressing for the victims”.
“It has also undermined the efforts of the thousands of NZ Police officers who carry out their duties every day with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.”
Malthus said police wanted to acknowledge the victims in this case. “We thank them for their willingness to assist our investigation, and we apologise to them on behalf of NZ Police.”
Malthus said that in November 2015, police received information that Malifa had approached a woman “via inappropriate means” during his time as a police officer, and an internal investigation was launched.
“Further information was obtained and a criminal investigation was subsequently launched that continued for many months.”
Malifa resigned from the police in December, 2015.
Malthus said police did not believe any other staff were involved or complicit in his offending.
“The use of the police database is strictly controlled and all police staff are aware that it is only to be used for the purposes of carrying out policing duties.”
There were systems in place to control and manage user access to sensitive information, she said.
“In the past the monitoring mechanisms have largely been manual and randomised. Police now have a system capable of automatically monitoring, detecting and reporting unacceptable or anomalous user behaviours that would not be consistent with police Information security policies or police values.”