Former police officer loses fight to sue government

A FORMER Sunshine Coast police officer has lost his fight to sue the Queensland Government over exposure to horrific crime scenes during his career because part of his claim falls outside a statutory time frame.

Sean Patrick Jude McArdle was seeking about $1 million from the State of Queensland in damages for negligence and breach of contract between 1996 and 2012.

He says he received psychological injuries while on the force and alleges they were the result of Queensland Police Service employer duty breaches.

During a hearing in June, Mr McArdle told the court he was so distressed in 2006 that he put a gun to his head and only a ringing phone stopped him pulling the trigger.

He said things he had witnessed while working for the Scenes of Crime Unit, including attending scenes where violent deaths had occurred and seeing dismembered bodies, had affected him greatly.

Mr McArdle also said he was exposed to bullying and harassment while working on the Sunshine Coast after a dispute with a senior officer.

But the court did not decide whether he had a case because Justice Glenn Martin ruled Mr McArdle had not filed the claim within a statutory time limit.

Justice Glenn Martin dismissed the claim during a short mention in Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday.

His published reasons detail how QPS warned Mr McArdle in March 2013 that he was going to be medically retired and advised him in early June 2013 the service was satisfied he was "permanently unfit" and incapable of performing any police duties.

"His employer told him that he should not continue to perform his duties and he was offered the option of retirement. That option was not taken up," the judgment said.

"In the letter of June 27, 2013, he was dismissed with effect from August 2, 2013.

"This is not a case where Mr McArdle could possibly have been confused about QPS' intentions - they were spelled out with clarity.

"His evidence about his understanding of the process was that of a person who was unwilling to accept the inevitable.

"His contention that he did not believe he would be retired against his will was unsupported by any rational reading of the correspondence."

A court can extend the limitation period where it is decided an applicant did not understand they had a right to action until after an expiration period.

Justice Martin said Mr McArdle's imminent exit from the force was made clear before his employment ended and his delay affected his ability to seek damages.

Mr McArdle also had the misfortune to be involved with the Storm Financial collapse which the court found "no doubt complicated matters but had nothing to do with his employment". - ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  court crime crime scene editors picks police qld government

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