Navy captain fined for spousal fraud

A high-ranking Navy officer found guilty of falsely claiming spousal allowances while having several love affairs has avoided jail and will instead be stripped of seniority and pay a $13,000 fine.

Captain Stefan Michael King will nonetheless appeal his guilty verdict, his lawyer, Commander Alexander Street, SC, said Thursday afternoon.

Captain King, 48, was found guilty on seven counts of obtaining financial advantage, three of those by deception. Those three more serious charges carried maximum penalties of 10 years’ jail each.

Among the other penalties he could have received were dismissal from the Navy and reduction in rank. Instead, he will lose only seniority, which means he remains a captain but will have the clock effectively reset to zero on the rank. He had been a captain for four years.

He will also pay a fine totalling $12,937.40. And the Navy will keep as reparations $14,933.87 - the amount he is convicted of having been paid falsely - that Captain King has already paid into a trust account while the case was being resolved.

Captain King appeared relieved at the sentence and hugged his ex-wife, fellow Navy Captain Jacqueline King, and his sister, who were in the court to support him.

However Commander Street gave notice of appeal, stating 14 reasons why the conviction was ''unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence''. The notice also listed 15 reasons why the Judge

Advocate, Lieutenant-Colonel Jennifer Woodward, had ''erred in law ... and a substantial miscarriage of justice occurred''.

And it stated that dozens of emails between Captain King and one of his lovers, married Sydney woman Robina Frew were irrelevant and inadmissible as evidence.

Prosecutor Brigadier Lyn McDade had read out the emails over two days of the trial to demonstrate that Captain King’s ''state of mind'' was that he had separated from his then wife emotionally and sexually.

The military panel of five Navy captains found that Captain King had falsely claimed $14,933.87 in food, rent, travel and utilities allowances while he was posted as commanding officer at the HMAS Albatross in Nowra.

Navy members posted away from their spouses are entitled to these allowances. But the prosecution had argued that because he would not have lived with his wife anyway, he should not have claimed those allowances.

This story Navy captain fined for spousal fraud first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.