Crooked cop jailed for leaking police info to Coffs locals

A CORRUPT cop jailed for leaking police intelligence reports to Coffs Harbour residents took a "perverse satisfaction" in using his position to pass on confidential information, a court has heard.

Anthony John Farrell, 42, was sentenced to two years behind bars today for a dark period in his life in early 2011 when "favours for friends" put him at the centre of a criminal investigation.

At his worst point, Farrell agreed to give his gym buddy - local businessman and champion body builder Andrew MacLeod - a "heads up" if he was under police investigation for the alleged importation of steroids.

He then accessed seven intelligence reports relating to MacLeod, who was found guilty last year of making a collusive agreement with a NSW Police Officer.

Excerpts tendered in court revealed MacLeod's name was attached to a file which read "the drugs are imported in granular salt form...Once the furniture and drugs arrive in Australia...mix the steroid salt with an oil based liquid substance that is suitable for injecting" and "...gets them into the country by hiding it within items of furniture".

While police were never able to pin-point a moment when the information within the reports was disclosed to MacLeod, phone intercepts revealed he was aware of it.

On June 1, 2011, MacLeod is recorded telling a friend "you know the funny thing is, there is a guy in town who's been trying to import - a um, crystal powder form...that's one they get into the country, then they use an oil to make it a product".

Judge Colin Phegan said the information discussed in the MacLeod phone calls bore an "uncanny resemblance" to the intelligence accessed by Farrell.

The court also heard evidence of other occasions where Farrell disclosed a man's domestic violence history to the father of his son's friend and the license number and home address of a customer to a female retail worker.

Judge Phegan said he had been aware throughout the case that general deterrence, sending a message to all members of the NSW Police Force that corruption would not be tolerated, was an "absolutely fundamental" element of the sentence.

Referring to MacLeod's suspended jail sentence, which is subject to an appeal, Judge Phegan said he had come to the decision Farrell's behaviour was "much more serious" as he had clearly formed a "conspicuously irresponsible" attitude towards his responsibilities as a police officer.

Farrell was sentenced to two years jail.

He will be eligible for parole in February next year.

As Judge Phegan delivered the sentence, his wife Angela and some of her supporters, burst into tears.

Corrective services officers allowed Farrell, who was also visibly emotional, to hug his wife before he was led out of the courtroom.

The drama continued outside Sydney's Downing Centre when a family member switched clothing with Farrell's grieving wife in a failed attempt to distract the waiting media pack from their target.

With her head down and flanked by friends who held up their hands to the cameras and attempted to cover her with a jacket, Ms Farrell remained silent and would not respond when asked if she was concerned how her husband would cope in jail.

Judge Phegan has recommended Farrell be placed under protective custody because of his status as an ex-police officer.

See Saturday's print edition of the Coffs Advocate for more.

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