New claims in case of cop’s sudden disappearance
THIS is the last photo ever taken of a veteran Queensland Police Officer who disappeared on duty almost a decade ago.
Senior Sergeant Michael Isles went to work on September 23, 2009 and never came home - just two days after his wife Fiona snapped the photo below in their backyard.
Although his body has never been found, Snr Sgt Isles's death was ruled a suicide in 2012, something that does not sit right with his family or friends in the Far North Queensland community.
Now the family of the veteran copper, who was Officer-in-Charge of the Ayr Police Station, has lodged a complaint of discrimination and asked the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman to consider recommending their father be added to the Queensland Police Roll of Honour.
The complaint lodged by Steven Isles, 39, of Townsville, claims the exclusion of his father from the Queensland Police Roll of Honour and the national police memorial in Canberra was a case of discrimination against those who suffer from psychological injuries sustained in the course of their duty.
"Dad disappeared on duty and in uniform and was deemed to have died in the carriage of his service," he said.
"The legal definition of injury includes physical and psychological injury."
Mr Isles, a justice of the peace and former Northern Territory Police Officer, said his father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his police service, including being wrongfully targeted in a 2008 corruption investigation.
Snr Sgt Isles, 58, had been cleared of alleged misconduct on September 18, 2009 and had only returned to work on the Monday - the day his wife took the photo - after being exonerated of any wrongdoing by then-Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.
This September 23 will mark 10 years since Senior Sgt Isles went missing after heading to Townsville for training.
The married father of three never arrived and has not been seen since.
His abandoned police car was found five days later near Ravenswood, 80km from Ayr.
The 35-year-Queensland Police Service veteran was on leave while the corruption investigation was underway.
During that time, he had also been diagnosed with and beaten cancer.
Coroner Michael Barnes "reluctantly" ruled the police officer's suspected death a suicide during a 2012 inquest in Brisbane.
Mr Isles, who has created a Facebook page called Senior Sergeant Michael Isles' family aim for closure was hoping to receive the ombudsman's decision by next week.
"The objective of the ombudsman complaint would be to have a recommendation be made to memorially include my father on the Queensland Police Honour Roll because he did sign on shift and never signed off shift," he said.
"He did die on the carriage of his service, whether it was foul play or suicide there was a direct causative link to employment without that link he would still be here to be a grandfather."
The Isles family have battled for years to have Snr Sgt Isles - and other police officers who have died through PTSD-related suicide - included on the state and national police memorial that was established in 2006 in Canberra.
Criteria for inclusion on the National Police Memorial declares cases of suicide were not eligible.
Though state and territory memorials were left up to the discretion of individual jurisdictions Queensland Police follow the National Police Memorial guidelines to maintain consistency.
A Queensland Police spokeswoman said the governing policy surrounding the issue was being considered.
"This will be undertaken in due course with appropriate consultation across jurisdictions," she said.
Questions about the status of a proposed memorial for the Queensland Police Service Academy at Oxley - that could include the names of officers who pass away on duty but do not meet the criteria for the Honour roll - were not answered.
Mrs Isles, 62, said her husband disappeared only days before they planned to go to Paluma to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary.
"There was so much going on in his life there's a high possibility we believe he was murdered," she said.
"He had become aware of illegal and unprofessional activities by a couple of … staff and they had become aware that he had become aware of it."
Mrs Isles said all her family were asking for was for Snr Sgt Isles to be acknowledged for his service.
"He put a lot of his time in to all of the communities he served in. He actually put the community before his family," she said.
"He has gone to work, never returned, they assumed suicided.
"But whether it was suicide or murder we don't have any proof, there's only assumptions but how can you assume when you don't' have a body?"
Mr Isles said some other states, including NSW, recognised the officers they had lost through PTSD-related suicide.
He claims he has been targeted by some police officers who have a dislike of him, but despite that, he would continue to fight for closure for his family.
"My family argue that the decision … not to memorially recognise my father is political and perpetuated by a stand-off between (police officer) and me, and Dad not being memorialised due to a finding of suicide, is discrimination based on mental disability," he said.
Mr Isles was accused by police in 2010 of threatening then-police Commissioner Atkinson, resulting in his firearms license being revoked and having his name flagged on police computers, stating he was mentally unstable and violent towards police.
Court documents show the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered the reinstatement of Mr Isles's firearm license the same year.
Mr Isles denies ever threatening anyone and successfully petitioned to have the alerts against his name removed in 2018.
The Isles family has battled every avenue they could think of to have Snr Sgt Isles recognised on a memorial, including filing complaints in court, writing to Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and approaching and receiving support from politicians.
A spokeswoman for the Ombudsman said, due to confidentiality requirements, she could not confirm a complaint had been received or provide further details.