Queensland police officer’s five-year mission to clear his name
Posted On April 25, 2022
A decorated Queensland police officer with more than 20 years’ experience says he was humiliated for years trying to clear his name after being accused of vulgar conduct in his workplace.
The sergeant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was accused by two police colleagues of exposing himself and boasting about his “size” in a Road Policing unit in April 2017.
Despite vehemently denying their allegations, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) demoted the sergeant, reduced his pay and moved him to a separate office while the Crime and Corruption Commission tried to have him sacked.
But after appealing the matter before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), the sergeant has now been exonerated five years later.
“It’s humiliating because of what I had to go through to prove my innocence,” he told 9News.
“Obviously I had to have medical reports done-up and everything like that.
“I continually live this whole thing over day by day because people still ask, ‘Is it over?’, ‘Is it done?’ “I just can’t get away from it, I’m living it every day.”
QCAT found the claims by two accusers were “not substantiated” and were likely “motivated by retaliation” and “feelings of resentment” for complaints against them over their own actions at work.
It also found his two colleagues were unreliable given their own misconduct histories – including one who was found to have received kickbacks from a criminal and provided misleading evidence about their matter before a court.
The other had driven drunk behind the wheel of an unmarked police car while on duty in a separate incident.
Both officers are still employed with the QPS.
QCAT also noted there were “fundamental inconsistencies” with the evidence given over the alleged exposure matter, including that the two witnesses gave conflicting evidence and declined to answer questions about the description of the sergeant’s anatomy.
The QCAT hearing was told a third officer overheard a discussion “about penises and sizes” but did not see him expose himself and a fourth officer who was rostered on duty did not recall anything related to the allegations.
Medical evidence was also provided by the sergeant which QCAT found made it “inherently unlikely that he would have exposed himself as alleged”.
In her conclusion, tribunal member Samantha Traves found the QPS disciplinary process did not discharge the onus of proof in substantiating the allegations against the sergeant.
‘Two against one is going to win every time’
The sergeant said the ordeal had taken a huge toll on him and his family.
“If it wasn’t for my wife… and a select group of real friends, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be today, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he said.
“It’s really hard and especially to see my family go through that.
“Over those years I had built up a wall and a face to hide what we were going through.
“Two against one is going to win every time.”
Mick Barnes from the Queensland Police Union said the police disciplinary process had failed the sergeant and is calling on the QPS to investigate what went wrong.
“In my near-40 years, with the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Police Union, I have never come across a matter like this before,” he said.
“It is an abject failure by the Queensland Police Service on their internal investigation system.
“The confidence is just destroyed.
“There were grave deficiencies in the evidence of both officer B and C, there were past integrity issues of both officer B and C who were noted friends outside the police service and that they had colluded before giving their statements as to what they saw and heard.
“He (the sergeant) has received numerous awards with zero complaint history, as to the history of officer B and officer C, it’s bizarre.”
While the sergeant will receive back-pay for wages lost in the demotion, no compensation has been offered by the QPS.