Former Trainee Prosecutor Alleges She Was Targeted By Her Boss For “Being Too Good Looking”

The Law in respect of recording others covertly

Former Trainee Prosecutor Alleges She Was Targeted By Her Boss For “Being Too Good Looking”

It has been reported that Former trainee police prosecutor Sarah Morgan, alleges she was “targeted by her boss,” Sergeant Lea Stevens, “for being too good looking.”

DISPUTE ABOUT MOST ATTRACTIVE WORKER RESULTED IN A SUSPENSION OF A PROSECUTOR  

A petty dispute between Bankstown Local Court staff resulted in a trainee Prosecutor being targeted and later being suspended from her dream job. The matter has been detailed in Court proceedings. Secret diaries of colleagues and covert recordings prove that this Prosecutor was targeted because of her looks and style. It was suspected that Sarah Morgan’s supervisor wanted her out and now she is.

Instead of concentrating on criminal prosecutions it seems that one of her two supervisors felt threatened by her clothing, dress size, diet and intelligence and everyone knew it. The main issue began when Sarah recorded phone conversations without the other persons consent.

Ms Morgan said she approached Sergeant Stevens with her complaints, and secretly recorded the conversation – an illegal act she claims to have done ‘out of fear’.

Sarah won’t be staying here, she is too pretty, taking the attention. She (Lea) wants to be queen bee and Sarah comes in (Lea) is no longer beautiful,’ the supervisor wrote of Sergeant Stevens in documents presented to the court.

THE STORY

Sarah Morgan loved being a cop undercover and in uniform, but nothing could repair her for what happened in 2017. She was being targeted by one of her supervisors, Sargent Lea Stevens. Sarah sensed that something was up, she felt threatened and she began recording telephone conversations with her two supervisors without their consent. Sarah states “I was scared that’s why I had to record each of the conversations”.

During a conversation with her other supervisor, the supervisor told Sarah, “You know she’s lacking in confidence; she worries about what you eat, and what she eats and stuff like that… and that’s all that little personal petty stuff”. Later when she recorded conversations with Sargent Lea, she stated “I said I really want Sarah to stay here in Bankstown”. Diaries were later found and it reveals that Sargent Lea Stevens, was telling colleagues, “Sarah won’t be staying here, she’s too pretty”, “Sarah’s taking the attention”, “She wants to be queen bee” and “Sarah come in, (Lea) is no longer beautiful”.  In Sarah’s interview with 7 news she made comments of the thoughts about this issue. She states that “It seems like a school yard to me, who cares what you look like, its whether you are good at your job and you perform well at it”.

The word later went around that Sarah had recordings of these conversations and Police went after Sarah, four male officers interrupted her morning shower, to seize her work mobile phone and work iPad to see the recordings.

She was charged with two counts of making an illegal recording and suspended from the Police force. Her Defence Lawyer, Paul McGirr states that “They have gone hard on someone who is a whistle blower and sent her out by charging her, this is immature and was about who would get more attention”.

The matter was going to proceed to Hearing, then the Prosecutors withdrew the charges. There was no doubt that she recorded the phone calls but Sarah always maintained that she did so lawfully for her own safety. Sarah Morgan is now asking the Courts for costs.

 THE LAW

The Surveillance Devices Act 2007 (NSW) (“The Law”)  deals with the recording of phone calls and doing certain things with recordings. The Act prohibits you from the following:

  1. Recording private telephone conversations without the consent of the other party: Pursuant to section 7 of the Act;
  2. Giving or playing the recording to other people: Pursuant to section 11 of the Act; and
  3. Having or keeping the recording: Pursuant to section 12 of the Act.

Breaching any provision of the Law is a criminal offence.

The penalties for these offences are quiet severe. Maximum penalties for the offence are $55,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both in extreme cases.

Further, subject to some limited exceptions, the Telecommunications (Interceptions and Access) Act 1979 (Cth)  prohibits any person intercepting, authorising the interception of, or doing anything that will enable the interception of, a communication ‘passing over’ the telecommunications system. Accordingly, it covers any conversations made over a landline or mobile phone.

It is most likely that you will not be able to use that recording in Court if it is recorded without the permission of the other person. Section 138 of the Evidence Act 1995 (NSW) excludes the use of illegally obtained evidence in Court proceedings. Use of these recordings may be deemed inadmissible evidence and you will not be able to use it or refer to it in any Court proceedings unless one of the narrow exceptions apply.

EXCEPTIONS

The general prohibition to recording conversations without consent is subject to some some narrow exceptions. For the purposes of this article, the exception that is most relevant to the business of local government officers is that which permits a private conversation to be covertly recorded if a ‘principal party’ consents to the recording and it ‘is reasonably necessary for the protection of the lawful interests of the principal party.’

CAN A POLICE OFFICER RECORD OR LISTEN TO MY CONVERSATIONS?

law enforcement officer or police officer can use a listening device in the following circumstances:

  • There is an imminent threat of serious violence to a person or an imminent threat of substantial damage to property;
  • A serious narcotics offence is being committed or will be committed;
  • By way of a warrant permitting the use of the conversations;
  • The listening device is a body-worn video device, is visible and the officer has produced identification to the parties to the private conversation; or
  • The officer has obtained a warrant permitting the use of the listening device in certain circumstances (see below).
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