Police officer cleared of all charges for taking Dani Laidley photo

dani laidley victoria police settlement
Images: Dani Laidley/Instagram, Julian Meehan/Flickr

An ex-Victoria Police officer who took a photo of former AFL coach Dani Laidley in custody has had all criminal charges against him dismissed.

In May 2020, Shane Reid was a senior constable in Victoria Police. He took a mobile phone photo of Laidley inside St Kilda police station as two officers interviewed her following her arrest for stalking.

Dani Laidley was wearing a dress, blonde wig and makeup at the time. The former AFL personality’s gender transition wasn’t publicly known.

Reid allowed another colleague to photograph the image on his phone. The next day, he posted the photo in a WhatsApp group chat of eight other police officers.

Reid and two other officers were ultimately charged after the photo of Laidley he took and a mugshot – which was not taken by Reid – leaked within hours and went viral online.

Prosecutors argued the leak robbed Laidley of her right “to choose the timing and manner” of sharing her transition publicly.

In Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, magistrate Hayley Bate dismissed one charge of misconduct and three of disclosing police information without reasonable excuse, The Age reported.

Reid earlier pleaded not guilty and disagreed that he broke the law.

Prosecutors argued Reid was required to adhere to the Victoria Police code of conduct and any breach of those rules was a criminal offence.

But Reid’s defence lawyers argued the breach was only workplace misconduct, and he had no case to answer.

Bate agreed and ruled Reid’s conduct was a disciplinary breach, not a crime.

She made the judgement in line with previous rulings involving police officers, Bate told the court.

The judge dismissed the four charges against Reid. She also ordered Victoria Police pay Reid’s legal costs.

Three officers charged after Dani Laidley photo leak

Victoria Police suspended Reid without pay when he was charged in December 2020. Last year he ultimately resigned.

Victoria Police charged Reid and two other officers after the photos of Laidley leaked.

The photos went viral and were subsequently published on websites and newspapers.

At the time, Victoria Police bosses slammed the leak an “unacceptable and appalling” privacy breach.

Trans advocates were also outraged, and called for more training for police officers.

Last month, Victoria Police officer Murray Gentner also had charges dismissed. A judge ruled prosecutors failed to establish he’d breached his duties to not disclose information to friends about Laidley’s arrest.

The third officer charged will face court next month, according to The Age.

Dani Laidley sued Victoria Police for damages over the incident. She argued the force and the officers breached their duty of care and brought her “into public ridicule and contempt”.

Last month, she received a confidential financial settlement from Victoria Police.

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