Thursday, December 10, 2009

More Queensland police misbehaviour

Former Palm Island police officer sues state for $2.7m over bullying

A FORMER Palm Island police officer who claims he was bullied by his colleagues and called a "pretty boy cop" is suing the State Government for nearly $3 million. Giovanni Roberto P*, 32, allegedly suffered a mental breakdown after he was subject to ongoing derision, bullying and harassment while working on the island from October 2005 until November 2007.

In civil documents filed to the Supreme Court, Mr P* alleges Senior Sergeant Paul James verbally abused him on a daily basis, including calling him a "f - - - ing ballerina cop" and a "f - - - ing lazy bastard". Sen-Sgt James allegedly belittled Mr P*'s police work, saying "all that touchy feely stuff with the locals is crap P*, it is all about arrests".

Mr P* arrived on Palm Island after the death in custody of Mulrunji which sparked riots on the island in 2004. Due to the volatile environment, Mr P*'s wife and children lived in Townsville. He lived with fellow officers on the island in a police compound, which is described in the court documents as an "unhappy and unhealthy environment".

The documents allege Sen-Sgt James ridiculed Mr P*, often excluding him from social events. In March 2006, the court documents claim Mr P* approached Sen-Sgt James to advise him he needed help to deal with work-related stress. He alleges Sen-Sgt James reacted in a violent and aggressive manner. He then allegedly said: "You are f - - - ing full of shit. You are just lazy and I have caught you out. It's all about arrests and traffic tickets and not airy fairy community policing".

Mr P* began suffering physical stress symptoms such as bleeding noses, paranoia and insomnia, the court documents claim. On November 12, 2007, he was so distraught he confronted Sen-Sgt James and another officer about the ongoing harassment and soon after had a complete mental breakdown, the court documents claim. He ceased work the next day.

Mr P* now lives on the Gold Coast and was medically retired from the Queensland Police in March. He suffers ongoing mental health issues, the documents claim. He is suing the State Government for $2.78 million for failing to provide a proper and safe work environment and exposing him to the risk of sustaining psychiatric injury

Sen-Sgt James is still working on Palm Island but is currently relieving at Ayr Police Station. A Queensland Police spokeswoman said they had not received any complaints against Sen-Sgt James and that this year he had received an Australian Police Medal in the Queens Birthday honours. The State Government is yet to file a defence. Sen-Sgt James is not being sued directly.


The case was settled out of court