Sexual liaisons … Captain Stefan King. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
A RANKING navy captain who faces charges of rorting his spousal allowances while having several sexual liaisons told a court yesterday he was living in a fantasy world when he made wedding plans with one of his lovers while he was still married.
Captain Stefan King told the military court in Canberra that his volatile affair with a Sydney woman led to ''fanciful'' talk of wedding dates while he was still married to another naval captain.
Captain King has pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of fraudulently claiming about $38,000 worth of allowances - paid to navy members who are posted away from their spouses - while he was having several extramarital affairs.
The prosecution has argued that Captain King was already emotionally and sexually separated from his then wife, Captain Jacqueline King, when he was posted from Canberra to Nowra, where he became commanding officer of HMAS Albatross.
In dozens of emails tendered as evidence by the prosecution, Captain King repeatedly declared his love for married Sydney woman Robina Frew and declared his intention to marry her, at times proposing wedding dates.
But yesterday, the naval officer, who has received two commendations - one for his service in Iraq - said that he had been indulging in fantasy.
''There is a lot of fantasy that goes with a relationship,'' he said. ''There was never any prospect of that being sensible.''
The Kings have since divorced. Captain King's ex-wife defended him in her testimony earlier this week and was yesterday in the court to support him.
Captain King said he was still seeing Mrs Frew and hoped to marry her ''one day in the future''. During hours of questioning by prosecutor Lyn McDade, he agreed with the suggestion that he was ''madly and deeply in love with'' Mrs Frew.
He told the court that although he had previously stated that he and his wife had agreed to separate on April 27, 2010, he did not believe this constituted marital separation for the purpose of his Defence Force allowances. Captain King continued to claim some of the allowances until August 2011.
''We were still married. It did not seem to me to be any interest of Defence's that we were applying for divorce at that stage,'' he said. ''We ran a home together. We had meals together. The time we spent together was normal. We were dependent on each other in many ways.
''There was no other place that I would call home. It was the place where our memories were and where we continued to deal with the life we had in front of us.''
It has also emerged that Captain King told his then wife he wanted a divorce while she was recovering from a serious hip operation.
Defence barrister Sandy Street told the court that any interest in the couple's living arrangements - they had separate bedrooms after they agreed to divorce - ''stops at the front door''.
The defence contends that Captain King was entitled to the allowances and that, even if the military panel decides he was not, the prosecution still has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he knew he was not entitled to them.
Section 9.1 of the Criminal Code Act states that a person is not criminally responsible for an offence if they were ''under a mistaken belief'' that what they were doing was legal.