A disgraced former West Australian MP has been labelled the “Pinocchio of parliament” by a judge who jailed him for lying about his military service and qualifications.
Former Labor MP Barry Urban claimed to have been part of an international police taskforce in 1998 that investigated atrocities in Bosnia.
He publicly wore a medal which he said was awarded for that service but turned out to be fake.
In fact, he had never served in the Balkans, although he continued to claim otherwise including under questioning from a parliamentary committee.
Urban pleaded guilty earlier this year to a number of offences, including knowingly giving false evidence before parliament.
Urban wore a medal he falsely claimed he was awarded for being part of an international police taskforce that investigated atrocities in Bosnia in 1998
WA District Court Judge Carmel Barbagallo on Thursday jailed Urban for three years, saying that by lying about his military service the 52-year-old had disrespected “every serviceman and woman who has served their country in war-torn locations”.
“The audacity and arrogance you have demonstrated in lying about your wartime experiences is extraordinary,” the judge said.
“You have created a fabric of lies upon lies upon lies, about matters which are important, and in circumstances which are serious.
“You are, in fact, the real life Pinocchio of parliament.”
Urban also admitted forging documents suggesting he had a University of Leeds degree and a University of Portsmouth certificate of higher education.
He included those documents as part of his application to join the WA Police Force which was granted in 2005.
Two years later, he applied to join the force’s detective training program. He submitted a falsified record of his military service and lied about having served as a detective in the United Kingdom.
The former Labor MP also falsified his military service record, lied about serving as a detective in the UK and forged documents suggesting he had a university degree
Urban quit the police force in 2012 and went on to win a seat in parliament at the 2017 election.
He quit Labor months later and sat as an independent MP until the following May, when he resigned as the member for Darling Range moments after a parliamentary committee found he repeatedly lied about his education and work history.
The committee had made the unprecedented recommendation Urban be expelled for committing a “gross and aggravated contempt of parliament”.
Under questioning from the committee, Urban bristled at the scrutiny and claimed his wartime experiences had caused him to suffer post-traumatic stress.
Judge Barbagallo rejected Urban’s claim that he was motivated to lie out of a “distorted sense of public service”.
She said Urban – who spent four years in the British Army after leaving school before serving as a police constable – had wanted the prestige and pay associated with jobs for which he would not otherwise have qualified.
As Urban quit parliament, he said: “This is a situation I regret and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) said Urban had ‘paid the ultimate price’ for his crimes
Urban will be eligible for parole after serving half of his sentence, with Premier Mark McGowan labelling it a “sad and sorry affair”.
“His behaviour was very odd, it was bizarre at times but he’s now paid the ultimate price,” Mr McGowan told reporters.