A Queensland police officer has escaped a conviction despite being found guilty of assault and deprivation of liberty after he pulled a gun on a couple driving on an outback highway over claims they were speeding.
Senior Constable Stephen Flanagan was instead fined only $1,500 over the incident which took place in May 2015 on the Landsborough Highway, near Longreach, the ABC reports.
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The couple involved – Lee Povey and his wife Anna Lisa Cruse – were driving home to Mount Isa when they were pulled over by Mr Flanagan after being honked and sworn at repeatedly by the police officer.
The incident was captured on the police officer’s dash-cam. It shows Mr Flanagan pointing his gun at the couple as soon as he gets out of his car.
A little while later, Mr Flanagan poked his gun into the back of Mr Povey as he stood.
Magistrate Paul Kluck accepted claims by Mr Flanagan’s defence lawyer, Stephen Zillman, that the long-serving police officer suffered from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before ordering no conviction be recorded for the offences.
“A mature man of mid-40s, a police officer of some 26 years, commits these two offences — one would immediately question how that could be so,” Mr Zillman told the court.
Despite the light sentence, the Queensland Police Union has already filed an appeal against the judgement.
Prosecutor Jodie Wooldridge had told the court during the sentencing that if any other member of the community had acted in the way Mr Flanagan did, they would be looking at a much tougher sentence than just a small fine.
“To have acted as he did, and to have utilised his firearm and his handcuffs as he did, was an abuse of trust that had been placed in him by the Queensland Police Service and the community at large,” she said.
True Crime News Weekly is unaware of any other case in Australia where a conviction has not been recorded for such serious offences involving firearms as well as excessive use of force.
Mr Flanagan is reportedly receiving treatment for his PTSD.