Cop demoted for ‘Puss nuts’ nickname
A SENIOR Gold Coast police officer has been demoted for repeatedly calling a colleague "Puss nuts" and "embarrassing the service".
Lucas Young was demoted from Senior Seargent and officer in charge at the Gold Coast Water Police to sergeant in 2017 following a police hearing into his behaviour and the culture of his unit from 2010 to 2015.
It was alleged Mr Young had a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality and called a fellow officer Puss nuts verbally and in an email.
Mr Lucas appealed the police hearing decision to demote him, but the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) last week upheld all but one of the findings.
QCAT found Mr Young had negative workplace behaviour, retaliated to a challenge by dismantling the gym and spoke to staff in a manner that was threatening and demoralising - all substantiating misconduct.
The hearing was however unable to determine if a dispute over a roster substantiated misconduct.
Mr Young had disputed just one of the matters raised by the Assistant Commissioner during the police hearing, which covered negative workplace behaviour with members of the water police.
He argued the decision failed to take into account relevant evidence and the findings were made on insufficient evidence. He also argued the demotion was a disproportionate response, that there had been collusion between officers and his role had a history of difficulty.
In QCAT documents, it is alleged that Mr Young targeted fellow officer Senior Constable Jason McInnes by calling him "Puss nuts" in a work email and at a briefing which included staff from Marine Safety Queensland, the department of boating and fisheries, and other water police.
"I went to my desk to grab my notes, ah he, he's stuck his head out and said hey 'Puss nuts are you coming into this briefing'," Sen Constable McInnes told a detective inspector looking into the matter in 2014.
"I'm not um, overly fond of the name Puss nuts but under, under the environment we had a lot of people from other agencies around. I was very embarrassed," Sen Constable McInnes said.
Sen Constable McInnes later challenged Mr Young on the matter and asked him not to call him Puss nuts, it was alleged.
Mr Young responded "angrily", Sen Constable McInnes claimed.
"He got cranky, ah glared at me for a bit and walked off in a bit of a huff," he alleged.
"The whole Puss nuts thing, that created a s**t fight in head office up here. Someone had some mate, he had like a thousand people, every bastard and his dog were in that office looking at this email," Sen Constable McInnes said during the 2014 interview.
QCAT was told that Mr Young inappropriately retaliated to the news by ordering gym equipment, purchased by the officers, be removed.
Mr Young denied the claims.
"I wasn't going to take responsibility for their, the gear anymore in the workplace," he told QPS in a 2015 interview.
Mr Young also denied that he used any terminology to show he intended to target Sen Constable McInnes, who later left the Water Police.
Evidence put forward by other senior constables alleged Mr Young engaged in negative workplace behaviour and spoke with staff in a threatening manner.
In a 2014 QPS interview covered in the QCAT decision, Senior Constable Sacha Thomson described the Gold Coast Water Police as "the most inappropriate environment, negative workplace I've ever worked in. And in 17 years it probably says a lot".
She described Mr Young as "Jekyll and Hyde".
In the original 2017 hearing Assistant Commissioner Alistair Dawson said Mr Young's conduct "exposed the Service to embarrassment and a risk of loss of public confidence."
A directions hearing to consider the demotion has been set for the matter.
Mr Young did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Queensland Police declined to comment on case.