Jacqueline Wilson leaving Preston Crown Court after being given a suspended sentence for misconduct in public office
A police receptionist who accessed her force’s confidential database ‘like Facebook’ to help her best friend keep track of her tearaway family has been spared jail with a suspended sentence.
Ex-prison warder Jacqueline Wilson, 51, made illicit checks on police investigations after former workmate Jacqueline Goosey, 52, asked her for information about relatives who had been arrested.
On 12 occasions Wilson, who worked behind the public inquiry counter for police in Preston, checked up on probes into Goosey’s husband, son, teenage daughter and two nephews for a range of offences.
Each search triggered an alert – a protocol introduced to ensure the PNC system was being used legitimately – arousing suspicion among senior officers at Lancashire Police.
When Goosey was confronted she admitted: ‘I just feel so bad – I’ve asked for this stuff and got her into trouble.
‘She’s my friend and she knows everything about me. To me they were just little questions. I have only asked her to get information for when I have had problems’.
Wilson claimed she thought it was the same as ‘asking at the police station’ and later said her behaviour was similar to ‘somebody checking their Facebook account’.
There was no suggestion she had access to any sensitive intelligence about crime.
At Preston Crown Court, Wilson, of Ashton-On-Ribble, and Goosey, of Fulwood, both Preston, admitted a charge of unauthorised access to computer data.
Wilson was sentenced to six months jail suspended for two years. Goosey was given eight months imprisonment suspended for two years. Both were also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
The court heard the pair had been friends for 16 years and worked together as jail warders.
The incidents occurred over a 14 month period from April 2017 when Goosey’s nephew was arrested for breach of bail.
Sentencing Judge Andrew Woolman said: ‘The two of you have been friends for many many years and it’s clear Goosey had many family problems and the police were involved.
‘It is clear no prosecution or police enquiries were affected by this, and no money was changed hands and there was no gain for either of you.
‘But offences like these can cause damage to the police system and can cause information to be released into the public domain.’
Jacqueline Goosey leaving Preston Crown Court. The incidents occurred over a 14 month period from April 2017 when Goosey’s nephew was arrested for breach of bail
Wilson was also ordered to pay £85 costs whilst Goosey was ordered to pay £1,000 costs.
Prosecutor Alexander Langhorn said a nephew of Goosey was reported missing and she contacted Wilson – who conducted a search. The same nephew was reported to have damaged an iPhone, the prosecutor added.
Wilson conducted a search using his name, and then called Goosey on a 40 minute call to tell her what had been discovered.
Another nephew was arrested for robbery and theft of a motor vehicle. Goosey contacted Wilson, who then carried out a search for his name.
In October 2017, Goosey’s son was arrested for driving while over the prescribed limit for drugs. Wilson conducted a search and there is evidence that she was finding out what was going on and keeping her up to date with what was happening in custody, the court was told.
Mr Langhorn said: ‘Between October and November 2017, Goosey’s nephew was on the run and there were further checks in relation to him, and there was a message from Wilson to Goosey ”can’t find anything”.
At Preston Crown Court, Wilson, of Ashton-On-Ribble, and Goosey, of Fulwood, both Preston, admitted a charge of unauthorised access to computer data
‘Later there was a report that Mr Goosey had assaulted Mrs Goosey. She was asking Wilson for an update, who then searched for information.
‘She also asked if Wilson could read the statement she had provided to see if it was OK, and Wilson said it was excellent. In December 2017, there was a report about Goosey’s daughter in relation to a search and in a message from Wilson to Goosey she said ”don’t worry” and she referenced something about cocaine – the inference being her daughter was found with cocaine.
‘Going into the new year, in January 2018, Goosey was herself witness to a murder and she asked Wilson to conduct checks. Wilson checked the information and reported that someone was murdered.
‘Then there was a domestic disturbance between Goosey and an ex partner and she asked Wilson if the incident had been logged. Wilson said it had and they may want to speak to him.
‘Later there was another disturbance at Goosey’s home and she sent a message to Wilson. Wilson said ”I’ll do some digging” – the system was accessed and she sent a further message saying ”trying to find out but can’t find anything”.
‘There was a further matter regarding a sexual assault allegation but there is some dispute about Goosey asking for unauthorised access. They both compromised the integrity of the system. The accessing of data such as this is criminal. There were occasions when Goosey relayed information to her sister.’
Goosey was given eight months imprisonment suspended for two years
In mitigation for Wilson defence counsel Rachel Woods said there are differences between a serving police officer and a desk clerk – she was limited in what she could do and her motivation was to help her friend who ‘clearly had a complicated family background’.
‘Any enquiries that were made by Wilson was at the behest of the codefendant and she was aware there was some form of police involvement with various members of her family,’ she added. ‘In her mind she thought what she was doing was confirming the information that her co-defendant had already found. She thought she was simply helping a friend.
‘The defendant had very limited training to perform this new job to begin with. She would sit at her desk at the start of her shift at a new police station and she would access the computer to see what was going on from the night before.
‘An analogy is like somebody checking their Facebook account. The defendant was oblivious to the warning signs, that what she was doing had to be for specific legitimate policing purposes.
‘There was no attempt to thwart the investigations and there was a trail left on the logging system and a trail left on both of their phones.’
Before the offence Wilson had worked for 10 years as a prison officer before leaving with an ‘exemplary’ work record and working full-time as a platform conductor with Virgin Rail.
For Goosey defence lawyer Miss Cecilia Pritchard said: ‘She is a lady with a rather troubled family but she herself has never been in trouble with the police. She was just someone who felt the need to protect her family in the way she thought she would. Sometimes it was just gossip between friends and there was no intention to frustrate any police investigation.
‘This lady thought she was helping her family out, she was going about it in the wrong way. She feels terrible that she put her friend in the situation she did. If she had any real thought about what she was doing, she wouldn’t have asked those questions.’