‘Sweet dreams big boy’: Texts that brought down top cop
THE remarkable downfall of former Northern Territory police commissioner John McRoberts is complete after a Supreme Court jury found him guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The 12-member jury found McRoberts intended to deflect and frustrate the fraud investigation into his former lover, travel agent Alexandra Xana Kamitsis, who was later jailed.
Kamitsis was the prime target of the Northern Territory's largest ever fraud investigation, in which numerous Darwin travel agents were found to have been defrauding a state government pensioner concession scheme by millions of dollars.
The jury agreed by an 11-1 vote with the crown case that McRoberts was hopelessly conflicted, to be sexually involved with the prime target of a police investigation, but lied to his colleagues and public servants about it and was involved in the investigation.
McRoberts, the father of two adult children, was in a relationship with a woman he lived with at the time and Kamitsis, who was also the chair of CrimeStoppers, was married.
Among nine examples of his offending, McRoberts blocked a search warrant on Kamitsis's premises by his own detectives, which the Director of Public Prosecutions and Supreme Court had granted.
He knew if Kamitsis's phone and computers were seized it would reveal their relationship.
But his attempts at preventing his former lover's phone from being seized failed.
At the start of the trial, McRoberts admitted his relationship with Darwin travel agent Alexandra Xana Kamitsis had been "personal".
The former cop admitted there had been some "sexual intimacy" between the pair before 2014 - but text messages between the pair revealed the extent of their affair.
"I adored making love to you," Kamitsis said in a text message to the then-top cop in 2012.
McRoberts was saved in Kamitsis' phone as "BB", later understood to mean "big boy".
Their relationship started in 2010, four years before McRoberts was told cops were heavily looking into his secret lover.
At times, McRoberts appeared to distance himself from Kamitsis.
"You know I can't build a relationship on no communication or intimacy … The whole reason I fell in love with you was because my heart skipped a beat when I saw you … And I am so unhappy in the relationship I am in … We could seat [sic] on the balcony and communicate for hours … I adored making love to you … you cannot build a relationship on a few text messages a week," she wrote, according to NT News.
Despite claiming their relationship ended before 2014, texts between the pair suggested it continued throughout the year.
"I so want to make love to you," Kamitsis texted McRoberts in April 2014.
In October of the same year, a month before Kamitsis was arrested, she texted him again.
"We should have woken up together at the Hyatt, your birthday is so important to me," she wrote.
In other messages, McRoberts told his lover they should use secure messaging app Viber and that he deleted all his messages as they spoke.
But McRoberts' desperate attempt to keep their relationship a secret while simultaneously trying to save his career would prove his undoing.
McRoberts had pushed for an end to the criminal probe into his girlfriend and for a civil remedy instead, allowing the dishonest travel agents to simply pay back the money they stole. He said the investigation was costly and that criminal charges would damage the tourism industry and the Territory's reputation.
That and his anger and resistance about the operation - and later Kamitsis's arrest that was filmed by the media - raised eyebrows.
Former chief minister Adam Giles, who was a witness in the trial, had demanded he "go hard" against the travel agents.
"The accused did what he did for an improper purpose … it was all a smokescreen," prosecutor Michael McHugh said during the trial.
The jury did not accept the argument of McRoberts's lawyer Tony Elliott that he had acted cautiously and properly as a police commissioner should in the case of a major investigation and had not illegally interfered with the investigation.
The 59-year-old was granted bail following yesterday's guilty verdict in Darwin.
But that will be short-lived, with Justice Dean Mildren indicating he would likely deliver a jail sentence next month.
The maximum jail term is 15 years.
- With wires