A BLACKPOOL police officer who used the force computer to find private information about members of the public has walked free from court.
Thomas Hatton logged on to the Lancashire Police system and used the information to carry out his own inquiries into a private matter.
The former Bispham-based officer’s barrister claimed it had been a case “over-exuberant policing”.
But sentencing him, Judge Brian Lewis disagreed and said: “You knew it was entirely wrong, not just against rules but also criminal.
“When you became a police officer you took an oath. You have acknowledged your betrayal of that oath.”
Judge Lewis said there was no evidence he had passed on information to criminals but Hatton knew the rules and had broken them.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Hatton, a constable, had been a keen body builder, regularly visiting a gym.
Judge Lewis added: “This case originates because of your capacity for mixing with people no police officer should count within his social circle and it is probably that which put you into this position.”
Hatton, of Marton, Blackpool, who has resigned from the force, pleaded guilty to four charges of unlawfully obtaining data and one of misconduct in public office.
He was cleared of a further seven charges of misconduct and two drugs offences.
Hatton was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and fined £400.
Investigations into misuse of the computer system began in September 2010 and it became apparent Hatton had unlawfully used it to access records of associates
The misconduct offence involved him using the system to access two addresses of a man whose daughter had allegedly stolen a tattoo design book. He also drove to one addresses but did not inform his control room.
Trevor Parry-Jones, defending, said if Hatton had told his control room he was making inquiries about the missing tattoo book it would then have been a legitimate investigation.
“It was over-exuberant policing.
“This is not a rogue police officer.
“He was not doing anything corrupt or obtaining money.”
Hatton suffers from depression and is now unemployed, the court was told.