Officer in court over love affairs

Captain Stefan King, in Canberra.
Captain Stefan King, in Canberra.

A TOP-RANKING naval officer was having several love affairs while fraudulently claiming tens of thousands of dollars in entitlements for being stationed away from his wife, a military court was told on Wednesday.

Captain Stefan Michael King, former commanding officer of HMAS Albatross, at Nowra, and a key witness in the Children Overboard affair of 2001, faces court martial over accusations he received about $38,000 in living-away-from-home allowances to which he was not entitled because he was no longer in a proper relationship with his wife.

The prosecution says emails submitted as evidence show Captain King was having three affairs while claiming the allowances and that one of them, with married Sydney woman Robina Frew, was blossoming into a fully fledged relationship.

In the emails, read to the court by prosecutor Lyn McDade, Captain King repeatedly made disparaging remarks about his wife's physique, declaring that Mrs Frew was the only woman he loved.

They reveal the officer, who served in Iraq in 2007, wrote the woman poetry and links to songs on YouTube with notes saying, ''With this song, I pledge my life to you.''

The emails read out on the first day of the trial, covering June 2008 to October 2009, chart the ups and downs of the affair as Captain King and Mrs Frew wrestle with the financial and emotional implications of breaking up with their respective spouses.

Captain King repeatedly says he no longer enjoys sex with his wife but says of his lover ''all you need to do is wink''.

''I am not in tune with her emotionally, she's not in tune with me sexually,'' he wrote in October 2009.

At another point he wrote of a night with his wife: ''Last night was another bedroom diaster.''

At one point he wrote: ''I love you Robina: friend, lover, bride-to-be.''

In the course of the correspondence, Captain King increasingly says he is ready to leave his wife, while Mrs Frew continues to baulk on the grounds that she fears her husband ''will die an old man alone''.

The emails show Captain King also had an affair with a woman he met while he was stationed in Britain.

Captain King faces up to 19 charges, including one charge of dishonestly causing a risk of loss to the Commonwealth, six counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception, and 12 counts of obtaining financial advantage. He is accused of obtaining about $38,000 by deception.

Captain is a senior rank in the Royal Australian Navy, just three ranks below the Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs.

Captain King was also a key witness in the Children Overboard affair, in which the Howard government falsely claimed, shortly before a federal election, that photos showed asylum seekers had thrown their own children in the sea in 2001.

Captain King, then defence liaison to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, was the officer who relayed to the department that photographs used to back the government's claims were of a rescue from a sinking boat the day before.

He said that during the 2002 Senate inquiry into the affair he had felt ''uncomfortable'' on receiving a ''pretty heavy'' letter from his supervisor at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Brendon Hammer, the day before he gave evidence to the committee.

This story Officer in court over love affairs first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.