Teen fisherman’s boss’s message after TV scandal

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The boss whose vehicles were stolen by a teen fisherman who was given an apology by Sky News presenter Peter Stefanovic has spoken out in support of the 19-year-old.

Keegan Payne appeared on Sky News on Wednesday after catching a 67 centimetre barramundi in Katherine that was worth $1 million as part of a fishing competition.

The teen was thrilled to share his excitement with the nation. Instead, many viewers were left dumbfounded when the Sky News host quizzed him on a moment not related at all to his appearance behind the camera.

Stefanovic asked if it was true that Keegan had stolen a quad bike and off-road vehicle from his former employer Bob Cavanagh.

Keegan responded that it was true and apologised to his ex-boss, added he and his friends were young and “weren’t thinking at the time”.

Viewers were furious and many demanded Stefanovic resign, and he and Sky News have since issued an apology.

Cavanagh, who has left the Northern Territory for Queensland, has said that Keegan deserved the apology and he has no ill will towards his former employee.

“He’s a good kid who made a mistake,” Cavanagh told the Daily Mail.

“What was meant to be a celebratory moment was stolen from him. I’m glad he [Stefanovic] apologised to Keegan, he deserved that apology.”

Cavanagh said he believes Stefanovic has learnt a lesson.

“We all make mistakes and I bet he regrets it,’ he said. ‘The fact that he’s come out and apologised to Keegan and his family, I think he’s realised he’s overstepped the mark.”

He said Keegan was just 15 at the time, and apologised for what he, along with two others, did to his property.

Keegan and his friend worked on weekends to repay their boss for the damage, however after two weekends a lull in business forced a change in plan.

“We had some quite big contracts that we needed to look after and I asked him, how are we going to do that now?”

He said it was all about “showing the consequences” for their actions. Ultimately, Keegan ended up working a different job.

“He ended up being like a janitor at an aged-care home. I saw him eight to 12 months later and he still couldn’t look at me, he was just so ashamed of what he’d done.”

After his big win, Keegan offered to pay back the stolen vehicles.

“Out of the blue this morning, his father rang me and said, ‘Keegan wants to repay you’, and you could have knocked me down with a feather,” Cavanagh said.

“He said Keegan has always felt so terrible for what he did.”

Sky News has issued an apology to Keegan.

“On Wednesday 1 May 2024, Sky News Australia broadcast a live interview of Keegan Payne by Peter Stefanovic on First Edition. The interview concerned Mr Payne’s win in the Northern Territory’s Million Dollar Fish Competition,” the broadcaster’s statement read.

“During the interview Mr Stefanovic asked Mr Payne questions about claims he had been involved in the theft of a Polaris Ranger and Polaris Quad from his former employer in 2021.

“Mr Payne confirmed the claims and apologised to his former employer on-air. Mr Payne’s former employer subsequently told Sky News Australia that he did not proceed with police charges and had accepted Mr Payne’s apology.

“Sky News Australia and Peter Stefanovic apologise to Mr Payne and his family for raising these claims during the live interview about his million dollar win in the fishing competition. Mr Stefanovic has reached out to Mr Payne and his family directly to convey his apology.”

Originally published as Teen fisherman’s boss’s message after TV scandal

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