An affair between a Virgin pilot and the estranged wife of a police officer led to him being grounded for months after the cop made false claims about him to the airline.
The lies against the pilot were revealed in the findings of a Queensland Civil Appeals Tribunal which found the now stood down cop also used ’emotionally controlling behaviour’ as a tool of domestic violence after discovering the affair.
He made a number of claims to the airline’s bosses, including that the pilot was colour blind and a heavy alcohol user, which saw him immediately suspended.
The pilot was suspended from flying for months after the false claims were made against him
QCAT were asked by the ex-cop to review the findings of a separate internal Queensland Police Service investigation, which found he had committed five instances of misconduct.
All but one of those instances of misconduct were substantiated by QCAT Acting Senior Member Ann Fitzpatrick last week.
The tribunal was told the former officer was asked for a divorce by his then-wife in July 2014.
A few days later he discovered she was having an affair with the Virgin pilot, whom he had been friends with since 1999.
In early August, the former officer took his wife’s phone and read her texts and emails.
The tribunal conceded that given the ‘deeply personal and distressing’ nature of the circumstances, most people would behave inappropriately.
The pilot and the officer’s former wife have since married.
The tribunal confirmed the findings of QPS that the behaviour amounted to domestic violence given it was a means of emotional control. Moreover, the behaviour exhibited was not an acceptable level of conduct from a police officer.
The tribunal heard the former officer threatened the pilot via email that he may ‘also have mandatory reporting obligations to CASA that a pilot for Virgin is dyslexic colour bling (sic) and has chronic asthmas’.
The officer contacted the senior medical officer at CASA a month later and claimed the pilot was colour blind, and had been working under the influence of heavy alcohol use.
The pilot was stood down for a number of months until he was cleared by medical examiners to resume flying.
In its decision, the tribunal stated the allegations were serious ‘because they involve a deliberate act of victimisation, cost and distress to an individual, as well as cost to a commercial airline’.
The officer also used a fake name and address to make a false claim about the pilot, telling Brisbane City Council on two occasions the pilot was conducting unauthorised building works on his Brisbane home.
The tribunal also upheld the finding of QPS that the former officer had signed a false affidavit in respect to domestic violence proceedings, denying he had made the report.
The police officer and the woman have now divorced and she married the pilot (stock image)
Elsewhere, the tribunal assessed a January 2017 incident in which the officer, in a private capacity at his child’s school, boasted to teachers that he ‘put people in jail’.
While the tribunal recognised the statement likely made the teachers feel intimidated, it was dismissed as having not constituted misconduct.
‘At worst the statement was self-important and unnecessary,’ the tribunal wrote.
The man – who has since been dismissed by the Queensland Police – also engaged in misconduct when in late 2017 he told a superior officer he wanted to ‘jump across the table and hit you in the head’ while being interviewed as part of the disciplinary process.
The tribunal found the threat was immediately countered by an apology, but having made the threat to a superior officer constituted misconduct.
QCAT will review sanction action at a later date.