May 22nd, 2024

Former guard pleads guilty to improper data search

By Medicine Hat News on April 24, 2024.

A former police cell guard will serve nine months house arrest, nine months with overnight curfew and 12 more months on probation after pleading guilty to accessing records on a police database.--NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER

@MedicineHatNews

A former police cell guard has pleaded guilty on improperly searching a Medicine Hat police database while she worked for a subcontractor and her part in a drug-fuelled stolen property ring last year.

Teegan Clara George Austin agreed to a plea deal Tuesday in Alberta Court of Justice in Medicine Hat.

The agreement, worked out between her defence attorney and the Crown prosecutor, will see her serve an 18-month community sentence followed by 12 months probation.

It resolves eight sets of charges accrued by the 21-year-old over the past 14 months.

“Things seem to have unravelled very quickly for her,” Crown prosecutor Jase Cowan said of the former contract worker who was terminated from providing security at police cells in February 2023.

“There are circumstances that cause concern – specifically the accessing of police documents – and we’re trying to determine how to prevent further (criminal activity),” said Cowan.

Defence counsel Greg White said much of his client’s troubles stem from drug use and association with several of the co-accused in the court files.

In a brief statement the woman apologized and said she was working to clean up her life.

“That, in large part, is up to you,” said Justice Eric Brooks.

Along with general conditions barring her from associating with the co-accused, Austin will spend the next nine months under house arrest followed by nine months of overnight curfew and a further 12 months of probation.

Court heard that police became aware on Jan. 25, 2023 that Austin had provided pictures of Medicine Hat Police Service documents via screen shots to a former roommate during an unrelated investigation. A subsequent search found unexplained searches for the names of family members and mug shots.

Her employment was terminated and police announced a charge of “improperly accessing a computer” involving about 100 searches.

Court also heard that a separate charge of stealing a motor vehicle

In November police announced that Austin was among two people charged when they discovered a cache of stolen property at a residence in Riverside along with a stolen Dodge Ram truck.

She has previously been charged alongside others with using a stolen credit card at a cardlock fuel station, breaking into a gas compressor station and emptying out the outside ice freezer at a convenience store.

Police have said concerns about the information access had been forwarded to the Alberta Privacy Commissioner.

Austin was employed by the Commissionaires, a security firm, at the time.

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