The young mistress of a top police employee at the centre of a sex scandal has revealed the very intimate secrets behind their affair – including a ‘love shack’ in his apartment.
Sarah Colja was just 21 years-old when she started an illicit relationship with her boss John Purcell, a senior executive in the Western Australian Police.
The office affair soon became ‘toxic’, with workplace sex happening almost every day behind his partner’s back, and they even hooked up at his private apartment.
Their daughter, now four, was conceived in the middle of the working day in a Perth park, she claimed.
The father-of-four, who at 54 was more than 30 years her senior, has since been demoted – but still works for the police force and is appealing the decision.
Speaking about where they would ‘rendezvous’ for sex during work hours, she said: ‘Literally everywhere.
Ms Colja, 31, (pictured) described the relationship with Mr Purcell, who was her boss and more than 30 years her senior, as ‘f***ed up and toxic’
‘His apartment on Hay Street had a storage room and we turned the little storage room into our little love shack.’
John Purcell (pictured) was demoted last year after the sex scandal came to light
Speaking to the West Australian in a wide-ranging interview, Ms Colja explained they would go ‘anywhere’ within 10km of their office during the middle of the day for the illicit sex sessions.
She claimed he always wanted to stay close to the office in case his wife called.
They also used a ‘secret language’ to organise the hook-ups on work emails, so the affair could go undetected.
‘(Internal affairs) wouldn’t have understood the emails, there would be a lot more than they would’ve identified,’ Ms Colja claimed.
She went on to list the Perth parks where they had sex, even using a Maylands park on the day their young daughter was conceived.
Ms Colja (pictured, who was 21 when she took the job at WA Police, claimed they had sex in local parks in the middle of the working day, as well as in his private apartment
During an email audit, more than 23,700 personal emails were found between the pair – as well as a dozen explicit photos of Ms Colja ‘nude, semi-nude or wearing only underwear’.
Some of the emails were the pair arranging to meet up for ‘intimate liaisons’, according to court documents.
Ms Colja said the affair began as a seemingly-innocent friendship, with him becoming her workplace mentor.
She had seen him as a ‘role model’ and wanted to learn from him, she explained.
Now a single mum, she has previously released other details of the ‘toxic’ five-year affair, saying she wanted to show other women they were ‘more than just another name’.
Ms Colja (pictured) was a 21-year-old university graduate when the workplace affair began in 2011
A second investigation has been launched into Mr Purcell, who was assistant director in the Office of Information Management in the WA police.
He was demoted last year after an email audit found thousands of personal messages between him and Ms Colja.
Ms Colja was a 21-year-old university student working as an administration assistant under Mr Purcell at the time.
The emails were evidence of their affair, which took place between 2011 and 2017.
The WA Police Commissioner has now opened a new investigation into Mr Purcell after Ms Colja alleged he used his ‘position of power’ to ‘control’ her throughout their ‘toxic’ relationship.
Sarah Colja (pictured) said she now suffers panic attacks in office environments and has struggled to work
John Purcell, who was in his 50s, was in a relationship with another WA Police employee when the affair began
Details of the affair were made public when Mr Purcell appealed against his demotion in the WA Industrial Relations Commission.
In the appeal, his counsel argued the demotion was ‘harsh and unfair’, with Mr Purcell claiming he had tried to end the affair and sought counselling from his church in 2017 and 2018 over the incident.
They added their client had an ‘unblemished record previously’ and had taken ‘actions to redeem himself’.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Ms Colja described the relationship as ‘f***ed up and toxic’.
Mr Purcell was in a relationship with another WA Police employee when the affair began.
Ms Colja said it was when she told him she was pregnant with their daughter (pictured, together) that the relationship fell apart
Soon after Ms Colja began working for the force she was granted access to his office so the pair could have sex during their work day.
His partner – who is now his wife – worked next door during their midday romps.
‘We were acting like young teenagers – making out in cars and all that,’ Ms Colja said.
They used their work emails to arrange secret meet-ups.
Ms Colja would also send explicit photos of herself to Mr Purcell’s work email to avoid his partner from finding out about their relationship.
She said she fell in love with Mr Purcell and at the time believed he was also in love with her.
‘I thought that somebody in his position must be a good person.
John Purcell (pictured) has slid down the WA Police Force’s ranks after an internal audit uncovered a scandalous affair with a younger colleague
‘I believed him in a lot of ways because he was older.
‘Looking back, I don’t know if he was in love with me or if he was going through a mid-life crisis.’
The affair continued from 2013 to 2016, even after Ms Colja left the force.
But after years of sneaking around, the relationship turned sour.
Ms Colja, now 31, said it was when she told him she was pregnant that the relationship fell apart.
Mr Purcell has no relationship with the couple’s four-year-old daughter, Ms Colja said.
Sarah Colja (pictured) became pregnant during a romp in the middle of the day in a park, but Mr Purcell has no contact with his daughter
‘Looking back and having grown up, I do realise his position of power did have a big play in how he could manipulate the situation. I was treated like crap for being in love, all while trying to create a career for myself.
‘Enough people knew about it, especially the higher-ups in his circle, that I was known as the ”hussy” at work. And him being in the position of power he was, he had the power to move me to different floors or offices.’
Ms Colja, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, has struggled to secure work in the aftermath of the affair.
She now suffers from panic attacks while in office environments.
Ms Colja (pictured) said the affair began as a seemingly innocent mentoring relationship