EXCLUSIVE: Tawdry story of how gang cop whose exploits helped inspire the original Underbelly series had a secret affair that rocked his and his wife’s careers – and her ‘brain snap’ decision to track down his mistress
- Married dad-of-two top cop had a four-year illicit affair with a junior officer
- When wife found out about affair, she tracked down love rival and confronted her
- Wife was sacked from her job as forensics expert for posing as journalist in row
- Commander Stuart Bateson quit Victoria Police suffering post traumatic stress
- Fair Work Commission has now ordered wife Milka Bateson get her job back
They look like a loving power couple in black tie – but behind this picture of a top gang detective and his wife lies a dark secret that has publicly exploded in their faces.
Victorian Police Commander Stuart Bateson, 54, was secretly in the middle of a four-year affair with a junior officer when this picture was taken in 2017.
And when his police forensics expert wife Milka found out the truth, the mother-of-two tracked down her love rival and angrily confronted her after having a ‘brain snap’, the Fair Work Commission has heard.
But the doomed affair would throw the careers of both husband and wife into turmoil.
Victorian Police Commander Stuart Bateson, 54, was secretly in the middle of a four year affair with a junior officer when this picture with his wife Milka was taken in 2017
After he finally ended the affair, Bateson was charged with telling his lover secret details of an Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) probe.
And his wife was sacked for pretending to be a journalist from The Age when she confronted his mistress – who can’t be named for legal reasons – during work hours.
The love triangle was revealed when Milka Bateson successfully appealed her dismissal from Victoria Police at a Fair Work Commission hearing.
Love rat Bateson was a former top detective who rose through the ranks and played a lead role investigating Melbourne’s gangland wars in the early 2000s.
He was played by actor Roger Corser in the Channel Nine Underbelly series that dramatised the gang war murders involving Carl Williams and Jason Moran.
Stuart Bateson told his wife Milka the full story including his mistress’s identity and that she also worked for Victoria Police – and admitted she knew he was married with kids
When Stuart Bateson’s police forensics expert wife Milka found out the truth, the mother of two tracked down her love rival and confronted her after a ‘brain snap’
But in 2015, Bateson began an illicit affair with a junior police officer who was five ranks below him, Melbourne Magistrate’s Court was told in 2021.
He ended the affair in 2018 – making his mistress ‘demonstrably upset and angry’, the hearing heard – but soon after he was charged with telling her about his role in the IBAC probe and suspended.
His wife found out about the affair, her husband’s suspension and the charges he was facing in June 2019, leaving her ‘absolutely devastated’, the hearing was told.
She demanded to know who the mistress was and the ‘where, when, what, and why’ details of the affair, the hearing was told.
Ms Bateson immediately said she wanted to speak to the mistress, but her husband ‘begged her not to’.
Love rat Stuart Bateson was a former leading detective who rose through the ranks and played a lead role investigating Melbourne’s gangland wars in the early 2000s
Stuart Bateson was played by actor Roger Corser (above) in the Channel Nine Underbelly series which dramatised the gang war murders involving Carl Williams and Jason Moran
But after a ‘stressed’ phone call from her husband after a court appearance in December 2019, Ms Bateson decided to confront the woman.
‘It made me more angry at him because again, I said why would [she] do this?’ she told the hearing.
‘Supposedly this affair was meaningless, there was no feelings involved.
‘It went over a four-year time frame, he breaks off the affair and suddenly [the mistress] makes these false accusations against him which is what I wanted to speak to [her] about.’
She added: ‘What I wanted to discuss was that my belief was that my husband had strung [her] along for four years on the promise that he was going to leave me for [her].
‘He denied [that] which is why I said to him, ‘Well, why would [she]? You break off this affair then [she] makes these accusations?’
Milka Bateson slipped into a police station conference room using her work pass and obtained the ex-mistress’s direct number before making a brief 46-second call, the hearing was told
‘That doesn’t sound to me like a [person] who didn’t care about the affair.
‘So I wanted to ask [her]: ‘Did my husband tell you that he loved you? Did my husband tell you that he was going to leave me for you?
‘That’s what I wanted to ask [her].’
She slipped into a police station conference room using her work pass and obtained the ex-mistress’s direct number before making a brief 46-second call, the hearing was told.
The ex-mistress answered the call before Ms Bateson told her: ‘Hi, I’m from The Age – I’m calling with regards to a charge sheet where your name is listed as a witness…’
The love rival demanded to know who was calling or what the call was about before Ms Bateson hung up.
She later admitted she hadn’t planned the call and ‘just spewed out’ the deception.
A two-year probe into the call began in its wake, and in April 2020, Ms Bateson was warned she faced criminal charges including attempting to pervert the course of justice and interfering with a witness.
It’s believed Milka and Stuart Bateson have since reunited and live in Melbourne’s west
The following month, Ms Bateson had a full mental breakdown and was put on medication.
All threat of criminal charges were dropped in November 2020, but internal disciplinary proceedings then began leading to her dismissal in January 2022.
It was found that Ms Bateson failed to be ‘honest, open and transparent’ in her work and reaction to the investigation.
However, she told the Fair Work hearing her actions were ‘all too human, all too understandable’.
The Fair Work found her dismissal was unfair and ordered her to be reinstated, despite the move being opposed by Victoria Police.
Bateson has since quit the police force on health grounds, suffering post traumatic stress disorder, and is training to be a volunteer counsellor.
He was initially fined $6,000 for the alleged IBAC disclosures to his lover but the charges were later withdrawn on appeal and he was cleared of the allegations.
The couple are now believed to have reunited and live in Melbourne’s west.
TOP COP’S AFFAIR SPIRAL
1988: Stuart Bateson graduates from Victoria Police Academy
1996: Joins Homicide squad
2001: Promoted to Sergeant
2003: Made Detective Sergeant, returns to homicide squad, joins anti-gangland Purana Taskforce, as featured in TV drama Underbelly
2010: Made Detective Inspector on Organised Crime Unit
2014: Appointed Superintendent of North West Region
2015: Begins affair with junior officer five ranks below him
2017: Appointed Commander
2018: Is questioned by Independent Broadbased Anti-corruption Commission investigation into sexual misconduct over allegations a senior policewoman had an affair with younger male officer. He allegedly tells mistress details of his involvement
Late 2018: Ends affair with mistress. He is charged with revealing details of IBAC probe despite legal gag, suspended from job
June 2019: Tells wife about his affair, his charges and his suspension. Milka Bateson demands to know all the details
December 2019: Bateson faces court on deception charges. After a stressed call, Ms Bateson tracks down the direct number for her husband’s ex-lover and phones her, pretending to be a journalist from The Age newspaper
April 2020: Ms Bateson is warned she may face criminal charges over the call
November 2020: Ms Bateson is told she will not face criminal charges but disciplinary action investigation is now under way
2021: Bateson retires from Victoria Police suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
August 2021: Bateson is found guilty, fined $6000 but no conviction recorded for disclosing the IBAC details to his mistress
January 2022: Ms Bateson’s employment with Victoria Police is terminated
April 2022: The charges against Bateson are withdrawn on appeal and guilty verdict and fine overturned after the prosecution admits the confidentiality notice may not have been legally valid
September 15, 2022: A Fair Work Commission hearing finds Ms Bateson was unfairly dismissed and should be reinstated, despite opposition from Victoria Police