If he broke the rules, sorry but them's the breaks.
"Showing compassion" is going to backfire, somewhere, sometime. The next person who is laid off/fired/RIF-ed can point to the incident and file a claim of discrimination if the same isn't done for him or her. That person may not win, but the company will spend time and money and man-hours defending the actions they took.
I would hypothesize that this fellow has been cut breaks in the past, and that is why he felt he could sneak around the system one more time. I have dealt with people who genuinely needed compassion, I thought, but many times it was considered license to take advantage of colleagues again. I had one co-worker who has created her own reality of how she's been taken advantage of. Years of accommodating last-minute requests for time off (the very next day), calling out because she can't drive in, (it's snowing, or once it was raining
, and she didn't have good windshield wipers), and no call-no shows because, well, she didn't really have a reasons for it, she just decided not to come in, quitting the job at one point and lying to try to get unemployment, only created a sense of entitlement. She was eventually laid off from that job, and ended up in another one, where her contribution isn't so crucial on a day-to-day basis.
She now bad-mouths her former employer for cheating her out of a pension. And she still is getting "coached" on her current job her spotty and unreliable attendance. Fortunately for her, the company is big enough to compensate for when she decides the weather is too bad to drive in - - and her boss isn't worthy of a phone call to tell her of her plans to stay home. She's approaching retirement age (I suspect that's why they tolerate it) but she's never been held accountable, so she's never learned.
It would never occur to me to use my employer's email to look for a job somewhere else. I'd be aware that human resources at my desired employer may view that as a bad thing- using my employer's time and resources to leave them.