Ex-cop cleared over Dani Laidley leaked photo controversy

Pictured here, former North Melbourne AFL coach Dani Laidley.
A former Victorian police officer was on Thursday cleared of charges relating to the Dani Laidley leaked photo scandal. Pic: Getty

A former policeman who was accused of leaking photos of AFL coach Dani Laidley in custody has had charges dismissed.

Shane Reid, a former senior constable, was named by other police as the person who took a photo of Ms Laidley in a police interview room after her arrest in May 2020.

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His lawyers argued for charges against him after an internal investigation to be dropped because there was no case to answer.

Magistrate Hayley Bate agreed on Thursday.

Mr Reid was charged alongside other police including senior detective Murray Gentner, whose own charges were dismissed in March.

During a contested hearing Det Gentner said Mr Reid told him he took the photo and he advised Mr Reid to come clean with his bosses.

The photo was shared in a police WhatsApp chat called "SD1 Gentlemen's Club" and is believed to have been leaked from there.

Ms Laidley reached a confidential settlement with Victoria Police last month after launching civil action in the Supreme Court.

The amount of the settlement is unknown.

Pictured here, former North Melbourne senior coach Dani Laidley being greeted by former player John Blakey at a club media day in 2021.
Former North Melbourne senior coach Dani Laidley is greeted by former player John Blakey at a club media day in November, 2021. Pic: Getty

Murray Gentner charges dismissed in March

Gentner was accused of accessing Ms Laidley's arrest record while on a day off in May 2020 and sharing details with colleagues in the WhatsApp group.

One charge was dropped by prosecutors during a contested hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court, but his lawyers argued there was no case for him to answer on five others.

The charges had alleged he offered commentary on Ms Laidley's charges and appearance, including that she was "now a full blown ice head and tranny".

Magistrate Samantha Poulter in March found Detective Leading Senior Constable Gentner had not acted contrary to his duties as a police officer, as alleged.

Seen here, Victorian police officer Murray Gentner at the Magistrates' Court of Victoria in Melbourne.
Victorian police officer Murray Gentner is seen here at the Magistrates' Court of Victoria in Melbourne. Pic: AAP

"The disclosure did not impede crime prevention, detection, pursuit of offenders or the like," she said.

"On that basis I find that the prosecution has not established a legal duty not to disclose the information in those circumstances."

In his interview with investigators, Det Gentner said he considered discussions within the WhatsApp group to be private and didn't consider he had done anything wrong.

He also said he would still access a photo of Ms Laidley "100 times out of 100" but regrets having done so now because of the "s***storm" that followed.

"Whoever has leaked this out of the circle of us as police - the words I have are probably not fit to be recorded," he said.

"We've all done the wrong thing, there's huge errors of judgment in this whole thing, that's apparent, but that to me is a huge break of trust out of our circle."

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