Sam Newman has caused more controversy on social media after dragging a recent police tragedy into the furore surrounding leaked photos of former AFL coach and player Dean Laidley.
A Victorian police officer has been suspended over the leaking of photos of Dean Laidley inside a police station and could face maximum penalties of two years in prison or $40,000 in fines.
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The senior constable is expected to be charged with accessing police information without authorisation and was suspended with pay on Monday.
Photos of the 53-year-old Laidley in the station's interview room as well as his mug shot were disseminated on social media on Sunday.
Mr Laidley was photographed wearing a long blonde wig and a dress after his arrest outside a home in St Kilda on Saturday night.
Fellow former AFL player Newman was left incensed by the leaking of the photos, slamming Victoria Police on Twitter on Monday.
But Newman sparked backlash when he drew the recent deaths of four officers into the debate.
“It defies belief,” Newman said of the leaking of photos.
“When everyone, rightly, wants to back police after recent tragedy, they would throw it back in public’s face by the unethical act of betraying a ‘person of interest’s’ civil liberties. #Disgraceful”
It defies belief. When everyone, rightly, wants to back police after recent tragedy, they would throw it back in public’s face by the unethical act of betraying a ‘person of interest’s’ civil liberties. #Disgraceful— Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) May 4, 2020
Newman’s comments come after four Victorian police officers were killed while impounding a Porsche on the Eastern Freeway at Kew on April 22.
Constable Josh Prestney, Leading Senior Constable Lynnette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Glen Humphris were killed when they were hit by a truck.
A number of social media users took exception to Newman’s comments, saying it was unfair to condemn the whole force because of the actions of one officer.
Should have known you would but in and play the man here. Tarring everyone with same brush for the acts of one. Cheap attempt to be relevant Newman. #Dinosaursareextinct!— Hassa (@Haich44) May 4, 2020
The police are furious at the breach of privacy...you can’t condemn the entire force based on one officer’s actions.— jb (@dees2472) May 4, 2020
Know where your coming from, but it’s not the ‘police’ as a whole, it’s an unethical person. The world is full if them 😡— Just_JJ (@Just_JJ13) May 4, 2020
Imagine every time a member of the public did something unethical the police had a sook about it on social media. This is the worst take on a series of non related events, one officers mistake doesn’t represent a whole police force.— Tristan Zito (@tristanzito) May 4, 2020
It’s a tough one @Origsmartassam. Definite violation of his privacy and offender should be punished but don’t think we can pigeon hole all police in this situation. Even if charges are proven to be true this is no excuse for what’s happened to occur.— Lachlan (@lachieexell) May 4, 2020
FFS everyone take a chill pill. Most likely ONE person wrongly took a photo and sent it to a mate or two thinking I guess that it was funny. Doubt he would have expected it would end up front page. He will pay a price for it. I repeat ONE person most likely.— Jaycee (@jaycee0202) May 4, 2020
I’m sure 1 police officer doesn’t represent the force.— Heisenberg18 (@aussiemate38) May 4, 2020
Dean Laidley facing stalking and other charges
Six other police officers who were sent the photos by the senior constable via WhatsApp could also face charges if it's found they disseminated them further.
Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton described the dissemination of the pictures as appalling.
“It’s a breach of our values, it’s unlawful and criminal conduct and that's the way we are treating it,” Mr Patton said.
The former AFL player and coach faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Sunday and will remain in custody until May 11 after not applying for bail.
He is facing stalking and other charges.
Laidley played 151 AFL games from 1987-97 and was an inaugural player at West Coast before joining North in 1993.
He played 99 games at Arden St, including their 1996 premiership before he succeeded Denis Pagan as North Melbourne coach in 2003. In 149 games, he led them to the finals three times before resigning during the 2009 season.
He then had assistant coaching roles at three AFL clubs until 2015 and is currently coach of Melbourne suburban club Maribyrnong Park.