DOWNFALL OF A HIGH-FLYER COP
BODYGUARD FOR THE PM, POLICE CHIEF’S RIGHTHAND MAN — SO WHAT BROUGHT GARY FAHEY UNDONE? NATALIE O’BRIEN REVEALS ALL
AN Australian Federal Police officer who acted as a bodyguard for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, foreign dignitaries and AFP Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin had a not-so-secret life with an out-ofcontrol gambling addiction.
At the peak of his career, Gary John Fahey had top-secret government clearances, rubbed shoulders at the highest levels and travelled with the AFP Commissioner around the world attending intelligence and law enforcement briefings.
At the same time Fahey, who was in one of the AFP’s most demanding positions, was using gambling as a stress reliever — punting on horses, greyhounds and harness racing to bet anywhere from $10 to $10,000 a time.
Until now the full story of his fall from grace, his potentially compromised national security position and his apparent unanswered cries for help have never been revealed. It has never been made public that the 42-year-old officer, on a sergeant’s salary of about $120,000, managed to gamble away more than a $1 million in eight years in a single betting account without raising a murmur at the AFP.
It has also never been made public that he gambled another $77,202 in a separate account in the eight months before he was caught taking $45,000 in government funds using his AFP-issued Citibank Mastercard.
Fahey was the good guy everyone liked. Colleagues say he and Comm Colvin were extremely close.
But his world unravelled after he took the money and lodged false explanations and a false statutory declaration. He was charged with 64 offences that were eventually rolled together and he pleaded guilty to one count of dishonestly causing a loss. The other charges were withdrawn.
He escaped a maximum five-year j jail term and received an intensive community. corrections order It expires to be this served week. in the
The Sunday Telegraph has o obtained court documents that reveal th the money was funnelled into ac accounts with Luxbet, Crownbet, C ClassicBet, Ladbrokes and William H Hill betting to pay various bills, and $ $1300 1 to a Canberra law firm.
On one occasion, Fahey admitted wi withdrawing $600 from his AFP cre credit card in Brisbane and spending it o on food, beer and gambling.
He also admitted racking up debts of m more than $100,000 across eight gambling and loan accounts and a home loan of $475,000. He said he had drawn $70,000 on his mortgage and borrowed $30,000 from his former partner.
Court documents reveal the extent of Fahey’s gambling and the lack of support when he revealed his addiction. It has also laid bare the inadequacies of the “security vetting processes” supposedly ensuring law enforcement and intelligence officers trusted with the nation’s secrets are not in positions where they might be manipulated, coerced or blackmailed.
Law enforcement experts said Fahey’s admissions about his gambling addiction should have triggered welfare support and high-level investigations by the security vetting agency, especially because of Fahey’s trusted position in the Commissioner’s office.
“A spiralling debt level, out-ofcontrol gambling and high-risk activities makes the person vulnerable to approaches by organised crime groups,” one expert said. “This should have raised a red flag — Fahey was executive officer to the AFP Commissioner, which meant he saw everything the Commissioner saw.”
There is no evidence linking Fahey to any organised crime group.
It was not as if Fahey’s gambling problems were not well know for a long time. Many people knew he loved a beer and a punt, and his relationship with another AFP employee broke up because of it.
In a pre-sentence interview with forensic psychiatrist Dr Antony Henderson, Fahey admitted he had gambled from the age of eight and throughout his entire adult life.
Fahey began his career in 1999 working in crime operations and as a surveillance officer before moving to East Timor as a senior liaison officer.
From 2003 to 2014 he worked on and off in close personal protection teams, including for Mr Rudd and as bodyguard for visiting US officials, winning plaudits for his “excellent leadership skills” and “affable, mature and easygoing nature”.
Dr Henderson’s report said that when Fahey started working in close personal protection in 2002, his gambling escalated “on account of having a significantly higher income and having more time on his hands”.
The report said Fahey’s gambling worsened in 2007 after the death of a family member. At the time he also developed symptoms of depression, had suicidal thoughts and had also accrued a debt of about $60,000.
‘Spiralling debt, high-risk activities — this should have
raised a red flag’
Fahey said that he had reported his gambling addiction when he first joined the AFP and numerous times at security clearance updates every five years.
In the two weeks before his offending began in 2015, Fahey said he attended the AFP counselling service and contacted Gambling Help Relationships Australia.
Yet Fahey told Dr Henderson he had “received no assessment, monitoring, counselling or other treatment for his condition”.
Dr Henderson diagnosed Fahey with a major depressive and gambling disorder.
“He gambles when he feels distressed, had attempted to conceal the extent of his involvement in gambling, has borrowed money to cover debts from gambling, made multiple unsuccessful attempts to control or stop gambling, and gambling has had a significant adverse impact on his relationships and resulted in the loss of his career.”
A Freedom of Information request revealed potential implications for agency security were not even discussed after Fahey’s fraud had been discovered.
The AFP claimed in response to the FOI that there was no correspondence, emails, letters or reports, talking points and or briefings regarding the potential security implications involving and/or flowing from his fraud against the AFP and gambling debts or any action taken to mitigate such security issues or complications.
However, The Sunday Telegraph has seen emails showing Mr Colvin was told in January 2017, after the fraud was discovered, that Fahey had been gambling on behalf of others outside of Australia and owed large amounts to overseas punters.
It is also known Mr Colvin asked professional standards to look into the issue of welfare for Fahey and “the broader implications for the agency”.
But approaches by a detective sergeant from Professional Standards were marked “unofficial” and appeared to go no further.
The former head of the National Crime Authority Peter Faris QC said the AFP should have conducted a thorough forensic examination to make sure there was nothing bigger than that and investigated if his security had been compromised at any stage.
An AFP spokeswoman said they were satisfied all allegations in relation to Fahey were fully investigated and have been fully tested through the court process. dailytelegraph.com.
Gary Fahey arrives at his gym in Woolloongabba, Brisbane, last month.
Gary Fahey (right), and (above) his gym in Woolloongabba in Brisbane.