Career ends in life of pain

Former police officer Michael Thornbury. Picture: Martin Kennealey d421738
Former police officer Michael Thornbury. Picture: Martin Kennealey d421738

It is a memento of two decades in the police force but it is not engraved.

There’s no reminder he wore blue for more than 20 years, except for the raw, overbearing pain he suffers every day.

Michael Thornbury suffers from complex post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

The former police officer blamed his downward spiral on the traumatic experiences he faced while working at the Peel traffic crash investigation unit.

‘My worst day is every day when something reminds me of what I have seen, smelt, touched, dealt with,’ Mr Thornbury said.

The 45-year-old was medically retired from the force in 2012.

From 1991 to 2012, the father of four saw things he can’t erase from his memory.

‘I could tell you story after story involving people who have died,’ he said.

‘I have seen plane crashes and had to crawl on my hands and knees to find body parts. I’ve been to murder-suicides and I’m left dealing with bodies.

‘I’ve been to a horrific accident where one guy had his head smashed open like an egg.’

Mr Thornbury said he joined the police force to help people.

He was prepared to do all he could to help but didn’t realise the cost to his own mental health.

He said throughout his training, PTSD was never discussed ” if anything, he said it was the complete opposite.

‘They were trying to shock us into a world of reality, a world of police,’ Mr Thornbury said.

‘We had to go to an autopsy, we saw people with their heads blown off, people who had been eaten by crocodiles’