Man fined for harassing witness, impersonating a police officer

A FORMER Victoria police officer disguised himself as a Bacchus Marsh police senior constable when he tried to manipulate an assault victim last year, a court has heard. 

Michael Blythe, 46, of Bacchus Marsh, quit the police force in 1999, but Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday heard the now self-employed arborist pretended to be a senior constable, based at the Bacchus Marsh police station, when he tried to make a woman change her version of events. 

Detailing the deceitful offending, police prosecutor Sergeant Ivan Blomley said the woman, who was known to Blythe, had been the victim of an assault sometime before April last year. 

The court heard the woman, a prosecution witness, was at her solicitor’s office when Blythe called her, claiming to be a police officer investigating the assault. 

Sergeant Blomley said the woman handed her phone to her solicitor, knowing it was Blythe on the line, while Blythe continued to question the woman’s version of events. 

Blythe yesterday pleaded guilty to the serious charges of harassing a witness and impersonating a member of the police force. 

Scott Belcher, for Blythe, said his client had been good friends with the victim and her ex-husband, adding “they had a lot of good times together”. 

But Mr Belcher said Blythe went too far when he became involved in the pair’s separation. 

“He should never have become involved,” Mr Belcher said. “It was inappropriate, it was probably misguided.”

Labelling Blythe’s actions “disgraceful”, magistrate Cynthia Toose said the offending was more aggravating because Blythe had once been a member of the police force. 

Ms Toose sentenced Blythe to two months’ jail, suspended for 12 months. He was also fined $2000.