Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Federal police officer gaoled for corruption

Date of Publication: 
22 November 2017

Suspended Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer, 46-year-old Benjamin Hampton, was today sentenced by the District Court of New South Wales to a term of imprisonment of 22 months, to be released after serving a period of 11 months. Mr Hampton pleaded guilty to dishonestly receiving approximately $7,000 in cash as a reward for releasing information from a secure AFP database.

Mr Hampton joined the AFP in 1999 and served in various roles, including as a Close Personal Protection Branch officer where he provided security protection for Australian politicians and foreign dignitaries.

Mr Hampton was suspended on 1 May 2014 following a joint investigation Taskforce established by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and the AFP Professional Standards Branch.  The investigation revealed that Mr Hampton had deliberately provided police information to a person associated with a criminal syndicate suspected of being involved in importing border-controlled drugs.

Mr Hampton’s criminal conduct was discovered after the joint taskforce made a number of false entries in an AFP intelligence database in an effort to find out who in the AFP was leaking internal information.  The taskforce created a fictitious crime figure called Tiago Vasquez, who was said to be importing border-controlled drugs from South America. As part of a controlled operation, a civilian then approached a man suspected of being part of the criminal syndicate, to see if he had any contacts within the AFP who could get information on Vasquez.

On 10 January 2014, the civilian was told that the cost for conducting searches of police databases would be $12,000, with $2,000 for an intermediary and $10,000 for the police officer who would conduct the searches.

On 16 January 2014, an associate of the man suspected of being part of the criminal syndicate contacted Mr Hampton. The associate conveyed the interest in information about Tiago Vasquez and the civilian. Mr Hampton then conducted searches on the AFP’s database and released that information back to the associate. Later that month, Mr Hampton received approximately $7000 in cash as a reward for this information. Mr Hampton failed to report that he had released the information or that he had received the cash.

In the District Court of New South Wales, Mr Hampton pleaded guilty to dishonestly receiving a benefit which would tend to influence a Commonwealth public official in the exercise of their duties, contrary to s142.1(3) Criminal Code (Cth). The maximum penalty for the offence is imprisonment for 5 years. He also admitted to providing internal AFP training manuals on an earlier occasion to a former colleague who intended to use the information to train prison guards in an overseas jurisdiction.  That offence was taken into account by the Court at the time of sentence.

In sentencing Mr Hampton, his Honour Judge Williams rejected Mr Hampton’s claim that he was engaged in legitimate law enforcement activities up until the point when he received the money.  His Honour described Mr Hampton’s conduct as an objectively serious example of police corruption, which required condign punishment. His Honour said that there was a need to deter other police officers from engaging in similarly corrupt conduct.

New South Wales Police Force detectives shared information with the joint Taskforce from a separate investigation into drug importation, and provided ongoing assistance to the operation.

Law enforcement corruption—including disclosing restricted information to criminals—is an enabler of organised crime in Australia.  The investigation and prosecution of this matter highlights the ability of integrity agencies, police, and prosecutors to work together to identify and dismantle deeply-concealed criminal collaborations.

CDPP Media contact: communications@cdpp.gov.au or 02 6206 5708

Charges

Mr Benjamin Hampton was formally charged with dishonestly receiving a benefit for himself as a Commonwealth public official, being approximately $7,000 in cash, which would tend to influence the exercise of official duties contrary to s 142.1(3) Criminal Code (Cth).