Suspended cop sues for $500,000 over defamation
A SUSPENDED Mackay cop suing the police service for defamation says he faces daily embarrassment and that his reputation has been destroyed by allegations he was corrupt.
Constable Christopher Laurence O'Keefe was suspended without pay last year after being charged with misconduct after his investigation into a hit-and-run.
This charge was later dropped.
In documents tendered to the Brisbane Supreme Court, the police service claimed Mr O'Keefe did a favour for a man and did not charge him with serious charges after discovering the man had crashed into a parked car and driven off.
But Mr O'Keefe said, according to court documents, that he thought there was not enough evidence to warrant harsher charges.
Mr O'Keefe said he once had a good reputation in the community. He was the Adopt a Cop representative for a Northern Beaches school and the RSPCA, and had won several awards including excellence in policing operations.
"My reputation that I had earned from many years of hard work has been completely destroyed," he said.
"My reputation amongst my work colleagues is completely destroyed. I was an officer who was depended upon. I am now known by all as the officer who was suspended from duty and criminally charged with being corrupt.
"My name and face have been plastered over the newspaper and televisions news on multiple occasions."
He said he faced daily embarrassment when facing people while working at his new job in retail.
Police union lawyer Calvin Gnech said in court documents that Mr O'Keefe was defamed in a briefing notice from the police service, which he received in August 2013.
Mr Gnech said that there was no factual or legal basis for the comments made in the notice which outlined the misconduct allegations.
He said the defamatory words depicted Mr O'Keefe as a criminal, as a person who deliberately misled a court, who was corrupt, who had or may have had received a benefit for his duties and was not suitable to be a police officer, which had damaged his reputation.
Mr O'Keefe is seeking $500,000 in damages.
- APN NEWSDESK
*This story has been changed. The original version said the police officer was sacked. He was suspended without pay.