Topics:  police, qcat, rockhampton, suspension

Rockhampton police officer suspended after taking fridge

Brisbane Supreme District Court
Brisbane Supreme District Court Rae Wilson

A ROCKHAMPTON police officer who carted a camping refrigerator from Mt Isa did not dishonestly take it from the local PCYC, but was taking it for a "road test".

The creative excuse did not float with the Queensland Police Service, which charged Senior Sergeant Brian George Kennedy with improper conduct, resulting in a six-month suspension from the service.

Sgt Kennedy's suspension was effective in 2011.

Last year, Sgt Kennedy appealed the improper conduct charge in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, arguing authorities could not find any dishonesty, an element of the charge, in his behaviour.

A judgment published this week detailed the fridge's great journey.

In 2008, Sgt Kennedy was stationed at Mt Isa where his partner, Sergeant Nicole Gee, was the manager of the local police youth citizens club.

North Coast Refrigeration Company chief executive Margaret Albeiz donated a camping fridge to the PCYC, where Sgt Kennedy was a committee member, on the basis it could be raffled off or used at youth functions.

But the fridge ended up calling Sgt Kennedy and Sgt Gee's residence home.

The couple packed the fridge in their car in June 2008 and took it with them when Sgt Kennedy was transferred to Rockhampton.

QCAT found Sgt Kennedy kept the fridge for his own personal use until he discovered there was an investigation under way.

At that point, the police officer returned the fridge to its rightful home in Mt Isa.

The Queensland Police Service initially charged Sgt Kennedy with three counts of improper conduct and dismissed him from the police service.

But QCAT overruled the punishment and imposed a six-month suspension from the QPS after it found some of the charges were unsubstantiated.

In his submissions filed to QCAT, Sgt Kennedy claimed he was taking the fridge for a "road test" to get to know its capabilities so it could be used for future PCYC events.

But Ms Albeiz denied she entered into any such arrangement when donating the fridge.

"Not only did she say 'I wouldn't have said that', she went on to explain that she had been making the Trailblaza fridges for 26 years, has 19,000 'out there' and did not need to ask someone to test," QCAT members Richard Oliver and Ken Barlow wrote in their judgment.

Sgt Kennedy also claimed Sgt Gee, in her capacity as PCYC branch manager, had the authority to lend out the fridge.

"The tribunal said that even accepting that she may have had lawful authority, that authority did not justify the actions of both Sgt Gee and Sgt Kennedy in using the fridge for their exclusive benefit contrary to the purpose of the gift, which was to assist the PCYC," the judgment read.

The Queensland Police Service also launched an appeal against Sgt Kennedy's sanction but argued the police officer's punishment was inadequate.

QCAT dismissed both appeals.



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