Carjacking victim feared rape, murder

The victim of an alleged teen carjacker feared she would be raped or murdered while being attacked in a Brisbane carpark last night, a court has heard.
HangZhou Night Net

The 31-year-old woman had been riding a train when she was allegedly followed by the 17-year-old boy as she alighted at Grovely Station about 10pm.

Police prosecutors told the Brisbane Magistrates Court today the youth trailed her to her car and grabbed her in a "bear hug" as she attempted to get in.

He then allegedly pulled her hair and dragged her to the ground before demanding that she give him a lift to the city.

He was caught when the woman spotted police by the side of Mitchelton Road at Samford and drove towards them instead.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Tina Green said the youth made full admissions, however no explanation was given to the court for his actions.

The youth has been charged with kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, assault occasioning bodily harm and wilful damage.

"She thought she’d get either raped or murdered," Sgt Green said.

"The fright that this girl has had to go through on that night was very serious."

The boy grinned throughout the court hearing as his lawyer, Mark Schofield, successfully argued for his release on bail.

He has been ordered to reside with his mother at Burleigh Heads and not have any contact with his alleged victim.

He will front court again in August.

Read more

Raider Hill blows up

Dubbo Macquarie centre Jason Hill faces disciplinary action from his club after walking off the field mid-way through the first half of the Raiders’ 44-34 loss to Manildra.
HangZhou Night Net

Hill stormed from Apex Oval on Sunday soon after Rhinos replacement Damien Kelly regathered a kick from winger Sao Vito and beat three defenders on the fringe of the ruck to score under the posts and put Manildra ahead 16-12.

Upon his unexplainable exit Hill hurled abuse at caretaker Macquarie coach Jim Kelly who was seated in the grandstand.

Kelly had earlier called Hill to the right-hand side of the field where Vito had made the initial break which led to the four pointer.

The former Group 11 representative removed his boots and socks, saying he had no intention of continuing in the match.

However he did return to the field later in the second half after the Raiders had fallen behind 40-18.

Macquarie president Mick O’Brien yesterday pointed out Hill’s behaviour was unacceptable in the eyes of the club, and the matter would be dealt with by captain-coach Warren Wilson.

Wilson was not at the match on Sunday, having been ruled out through injury and has been in Queensland on holidays. However, he has been briefed by O’Brien on the situation.

“I’ve spoken to Warren about what happened and he definitely isn’t very happy about it,” O’Brien said yesterday.

“There will be disciplinary action taken (against Hill) and we will let Warren work out what is going to be done this week.

“He (Hill) could be on the bench or it could be a fine, we will let Warren sort that out.”

O’Brien said that Hill’s outburst on Sunday wasn’t his first, and that he could be on his last warning with the club.

“Jason is like that, he is a fiery bloke. He did the same thing last year and was dropped for it,” he said.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Read more

Parents may face murder charges

The parents of 18-month-old twins, found dead last night, could be charged with murder as soon as Thursday, a Brisbane court heard today.
HangZhou Night Net

The decaying bodies of the boy and girl – who had been dead at least a week – were found in their Sunnybank Hills home last night.

Their parents faced Brisbane Magistrates Court today charged with failing to provide the necessities of life.

However, prosecutors this afternoon took the unusual step of asking for the couple to be remanded in custody for a further 48 hours, pending the results of a post mortem examination.

While results are yet to be finalised, the likely cause of the twins’ death was malnutrition.

The court heard the twins’ mother, 30, had told police she was aware the babies were dead from about June 8 or 9.

They were found by an 11-year-old sibling yesterday after other children noticed an odour coming from a front bedroom.

After making the gruesome discovery, the court heard the 11-year-old child told the mother, "I know why you’ve been crying now."

The children later told police they had rarely seen the twins since they were born.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Tina Green said the parents were "most likely … heading towards either manslaughter or murder charges".

The court heard that the mother, who cannot be named, admitted she only fed the twins with a bottle and changed them only occasionally.

"I don’t think I fed them enough," she said in a police statement read to the court.

Prosecutors said both children’s bodies were decaying when found and appeared malnourished.

The twins’ bodies weighed 3.6kg and 4kg.

The mother, who appeared overweight and wearing a brown prison tracksuit with her hair tied back, kept her eyes downcast throughout the briefing.

The toddlers’ father, 28, also appeared in court wearing handcuffs.

Defence lawyer Michael Cridland, acting for the children’s father, said the man had little or no contact with the twins in the six months before their deaths, arguing the chance of securing a murder conviction against him was remote.

However, Sgt Green said the man lived under the same roof as the toddlers and had to walk past the bedroom where they were kept to reach his own.

He also drove the couple’s four other children to school on his way to work as a project manager on a major Brisbane road project.

Mr Cridland also said his client had only yesterday afternoon been made aware of the twins’ deaths, shortly before police removed their bodies from the house.

However, Magistrate Noel Nunan granted police permission to hold the pair, describing the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime as "bizarre".

"I think it would be wise to wait for the outcome of the post mortem examination," Mr Nunan said.

The mother is undergoing a psychiatric assessments, while the father has refused a psychiatric assessment.

Read more

Devoted Dulcie rises to the top in competition

Winning cooking competitions is a piece of cake for Dubbo resident Dulcie Foran who took out a special prize recently.
HangZhou Night Net

A kentish cake, jam drops and lemon butter made by the 73-year-old won a section celebrating 50 years of The Land Cookery Contest run in conjunction with the annual conference of the NSW branch of the Country Women’s Association.

She gained the right to enter the State contest after winning at local branch and group level.

At her home in Bell Avenue yesterday, Mrs Foran reluctantly revealed she’d been cooking up a storm for many years.

In the past 60 years she has won about 500 first, second and third prizes, ribbons and trophies in cookery competitions of all levels.

“My first prize was for patty cakes at the Mendooran show when I was 13,” she laughed.

The recognition of her talent by the State CWA last week is not the first time Mrs Foran has risen to the top.

In recent years she has won the fruit cake section of the State contest and been named the most successful competitor in cookery at Dubbo show.

The accomplished cook, who loves whipping up desserts, admits that “quite a lot of work” goes into a successful entry.

Judging of her cake, biscuits and butter followed a hectic couple of days, one taken up in the kitchen followed by another on the road as Mrs Foran and a friend drove to Albury where the conference was held.

But as Mrs Foran worked on her entries for this year’s Dubbo show yesterday, she confessed that her mastery in the kitchen resulted from the combination of luck and enthusiasm.

“If you want to be a good cook, you just do it,” she offered while happily admitting that even cooks of her calibre produced the occasional disaster.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Read more

Chair-sniffer survives challenge

Troy Buswell has stared down his second leadership challenge in six weeks, after a spill motion brought by backbench MP Anthony Fels was defeated this morning.
HangZhou Night Net

Mr Fels called the spill, which was seconded by Roe MLA Graham Jacobs, in what he said was a last-ditch attempt to put the Liberal party in a winnable position before the coming state election.

Ray Halligan, secretary of the parliamentary Liberal Party, said the spill had been defeated "so the status quo remains".

Mr Halligan would not reveal how close the vote was. "I can’t tell you and I won’t tell you (the numbers of the vote)."

He said there would be no repercussions on Mr Fels and Mr Jacobs for moving the spill, which is the second Mr Buswell has faced following an unsuccessful spill brought by Mr Jacobs in the wake of the "chair sniffing" saga.

Mr Fels had hoped former leader Matt Birney would take up the leadership position if today’s spill was successful.

"Many believe we are in an unwinnable position. We should be streets ahead of the Labor Party at this time," said Mr Fels, who was dumped from the Liberal frontbench last year over links with party powerbroker Noel Crichton-Brown.

"If Buswell gets up the Party would be in much the same position as we are in at the moment. I don’t think he is the man to lead us to the next election."

On arriving at Parliament House this morning, Mr Birney said he was not involved in any planned spill.

"I want to make it clear that I haven’t given any commitment to anybody that I will stand for the leadership," he said.

"Nor have I asked anyone to do it on my behalf. Indeed I have counselled certain people against moving the spill."

Liberal Party state president Barry Court said he still supported Mr Buswell.

The proposed spill was given a frosty reception by other Liberal members as they arrived at Parliament House this morning.

Darling Range MLA John Day said the party did not need another challenge to Mr Buswell’s leadership.

"I think people in Western Australia think it’s time this nonsense stopped," he said.

Former leader Colin Barnett said: "We have been through this so many times it is getting tedious. It continues to be embarrassing."

Mr Fels’ calls for a spill come after fellow Liberal MP John McGrath was stripped of his Road Safety portfolio, following revelations of his links with former premier Brian Burke.

Hillarys MLA Rob Johnson, who was last week sacked from the shadow police portfolio by Mr Buswell for calling for Mr McGrath’s removal, strongly backed Mr Birney for leader.

"If Matt Birney is nominated, I’ll support him," he said.

Former Liberal Dan Sullivan, who defected from the party over the Buswell leadership saga, saw some humour in the latest ructions to hit his former party.

"All I can say is that it’s a great day not to be in the Liberal Party."

Despite the turmoil, Mr Fels said he believed the party had a good chance of winning the upcoming state ballot.

Premier Alan Carpenter has until February to call the election.


Read more

Toddlers dead at least a week

Two 18-month-old toddlers had been dead at least a week when their bodies were found in their Sunnybank Hills home last night.
HangZhou Night Net

The parents of the boy and girl faced Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning charged with failing to provide the necessities of life.

The court heard the twins’ mother, 30, had told police she was aware the babies were dead from about June 8 or 9.

They were found by an 11-year-old sibling yesterday after other children noticed an odour coming from a front bedroom.

After making the gruesome discovery, the court heard the 11-year-old child told the mother, “I know why you’ve been crying now”.

The children later told police they had rarely seen the twins since they were born.

The court heard that the mother, who cannot be named, admitted she only fed the twins with a bottle and changed them only occasionally.

“I don’t think I fed them enough,” she said in a police statement read to the court.

Prosecutors said both children’s bodies were decaying when found and appeared malnourished.

The twins bodies weighed 3.6kg and 4kg.

The mother, who appeared overweight and wearing a brown prison tracksuit with her hair tied back, kept her eyes downcast throughout the briefing.

The toddlers’ father, 28, also appeared in court wearing handcuffs.

The court heard the couple had significant relationship problems and were sleeping in separate rooms.

A lawyer for the father said there was no evidence the Department of Child Safety had prior contact with the family, and that the surviving children were all attending school.

Police opposed bail for both parents, citing possible contact with the other children, currently in the care of their grandmother.

The woman’s bail application has been adjourned while she undergoes psychiatric assessments. The man has refused a psychiatric assessment. A decision on his bail will be made when the court reconvenes at 2.15pm.

Prosecutors said there may be further charges levelled against the couple over the children’s deaths.

A post mortem is being conducted today to determine the cause of the twins’ deaths and a crime scene has been established at the house.

Read more

‘Large chunk’ bitten out of woman’s ear

Police are DNA testing the beard of a man accused of biting “a large chunk” out of his de facto’s left ear on Sunday.
HangZhou Night Net

Swabs of what police believe was blood were taken from Kevin Arthur Williams’ beard after the incident which occurred about 4.45pm and left the victim, aged “about 30”, in Dubbo Base Hospital.

The Brewarrina couple was among a group of people seen by police drinking moselle in the front yard of a Spears Drive address at 8am on Sunday, according to police facts on the matter.

Nearly nine hours later officers were called to the area after reports of a domestic dispute and arrived to find a woman with blood over her face, neck and head.

“Police saw that a large chunk of the victim’s left ear was missing,” the facts stated.

“She was holding the piece of ear in her left hand.”

The facts quoted an eyewitness who stated:

“He (Mr Williams) kissed me for Mother’s Day, and then she (the victim) laid into me and then laid into him.”

“The next thing she was sitting on him bashing him.

“After that she was crying out saying ‘my munga my munga’. I then saw her pick up a piece of her ear.”

Forty-two-year-old Mr Williams was charged with maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Gall said he did not oppose freeing the man on conditional bail, as long as the magistrate gave an order which allowed police to conduct a DNA analysis on the swabs taken from Mr Williams.

The magistrate made the order and granted the defendant bail to return to Brewarrina.

He will appear in Dubbo Local Court on June 27.

Yesterday the victim was described as being in a satisfactory condition.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Read more

Beijing fury at Aussies’ smog boycott

Upset … heptathlete Kylie Wheeler.BEIJING Olympic authorities are shocked and dismayed at Athletics Australia’s decision to ban track and field competitors from marching at the opening ceremony, partly because of fears that the city’s pollution will harm their health and performance.
HangZhou Night Net

It is the first pollution-related boycott, and the decision has upset some of the Australian athletes who will miss the ceremony on August 8, instead remaining in training camps in Japan and Hong Kong until ready to compete.

“Wow, you’re kidding,” said the spokesman for the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Jeff Ruffolo, on hearing the news yesterday from the Herald. “That’s the first time we’ve heard anything about athletes themselves pulling out of the opening ceremony.”

Beijing is one of the world’s most polluted cities, but it is introducing drastic anti-pollution measures, and it believes it is being unfairly singled out compared with previous host cities.

“For example, in Los Angeles in 1984, when conditions were considerably worse,” Mr Ruffolo said. “The smog was impenetrable, but the Games turned out sparklingly – because people left the city.”

Athletics Australia’s national performance manager, Max Binnington, said yesterday that pollution was a problem, and while he understood some athletes were upset, he had to ensure they performed at their peak.

“We have had athletes come back from a recent test event and one athlete has got 10 days off training because of a respiratory problem,” he told ABC radio. “We don’t want our athletes to be undertaking that sort of risk.”

But last night Mr Binnington – clearly fearing a diplomatic fallout – backtracked and told the Herald it was not about pollution but ensuring the team had a stable training environment.

“Never was it intended to be a criticism of China, the Chinese Government or the Beijing Olympic Committee,” he said. “We think they will put on a wonderful show and they will do anything to minimise the inconenience for athletes. We wouldn’t be going to Hong Kong if we thought there was something wrong with China, and this isn’t the first time we’ve gone in late.”

Sensitivity on the subject is so acute in China that news photographers have recently refused to work on polluted days for fear of official retribution. Hosting a successful Olympics is a top national priority, and China’s leaders will be anxious to avoid an environmental boycott of the ceremony on top of the Tibet-related political boycotts that some world leaders have already threatened.

The Australian heptathlete Kylie Wheeler told the Herald she was unhappy about not marching in the ceremony at her second Olympics. Athletics Australia had told athletes that part of the reason was the pollution, she said.

“At the same time, I understand where they are coming from. Ultimately they want us to give our best performance, and they think this is the best thing to do. But it would have been nice to come to some intermediary solution. For me, after having been to one, I know the motivation and excitement it generates. For me it’s really important for my preparation; I get excited about it, and from that I get really motivated.”

The track and field athletes will trickle in to Beijing from August 9, the day after the ceremony, but many will wait until closer to their events, starting on August 15.

In preparation, heavy industry has been all but cleared out of Beijing. The Government has introduced tough energy intensity goals and European vehicle-emissions standards, and it is phasing out what used to be ubiquitous coal burners and boilers. Its count of “blue sky days” has risen from 100 a year a decade ago to 246 last year, although the index is perhaps misleadingly named, and critics say some monitoring stations were shifted from high-traffic spots two years ago.

“The trend is definitely getting better and this year is definitely the best,” said Changhua Wu, China director for an international non-profit consultancy, The Climate Group.

Read more

Dubbo Airport one of busiest in State

Dubbo is the fourth busiest regional airport in New South Wales in terms of flights to and from Sydney.
HangZhou Night Net

The latest figures from the NSW Department of Transport revealed activity at Dubbo Airport remained steady in the face of the regional airline crisis.

Locally, passenger numbers grew by just half a per cent to hit 113,027 in the year ending March 2001.

But a further 4850 people flying between Sydney and Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Nyngan and Walgett transferred at Dubbo.

The city continued to hold its own as one of the big five regional operators including Coffs Harbour (161,962 passengers), Albury (123,904), Ballina (121,450) and Wagga Wagga (106,269).

While direct flights from smaller towns into Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport dwindled, the growing practice of “hubbing” – flight transfers at larger regional centres – is expected to increase activity at Dubbo Airport.

The sale of KSA and the possible hike in the cost of slot times is likely to favour larger planes and the regional airports which can handle them. The city has already made plans to extend the main runway in 2004/05 to allow for 50-seater jets.

Dubbo City Council business operations manager Geoff Darby said passenger traffic through Dubbo Airport had doubled in the past 10 years and was now showing “steady growth”.

He said local passenger numbers were expected to reach 120,000 in the next year with the route to and from Sydney already accounting for about $20 million a year in ticket sales.

“I think the signs are good for Dubbo,” he said. “There is the possibility of good growth when you consider the university development and the new super school. You have departments like Land and Water Conservation increasing their presence here.

“Dubbo is also far enough out of Sydney – unlike places like Bathurst – for flying to be a good proposition. By flying you are essentially buying time, particularly if you don’t want to stay overnight in Sydney.”

There are still fears, however, regional flights could be squeezed out of KSA by mounting costs, an issue local councils plan to take up at a briefing on the airport’s sale next month.

But Mr Darby said the sale of KSA and the likely shift from small aircraft to regional jets could also work to cement Dubbo’s position as a major player in country air transport.

“I think we are looking at a time when small seater planes at Kingsford Smith will be phased out,” Mr Darby said.

“What we are going to see, I believe, is more hubbing and great triangulation – for instance Dubbo to Parkes and then to Sydney.”

Elsewhere, passenger numbers at Bathurst Airport dropped by 2.12 per cent to 18,508 while numbers jumped by 7.06 per cent in Orange to 47,318 and by almost 20 per cent in Tamworth to 85,342.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Read more

Expert help with alcohol problem

A national expert on alcohol misuse in indigenous communities has urged Dubbo’s health professionals to “do everything they can” to keep heavy-drinking Aborigines alive.
HangZhou Night Net

Professor Ernest Hunter from the University of Queensland claims that in time many of them will choose to throw away the bottle for good.

One of the authors of National Recommendations for the Clinical Management of Alcohol Related Problems in Indigenous Primary Care Settings, Professor Hunter spoke to doctors and health workers in Dubbo recently.

He is part of a group currently touring metropolitan and regional Australia explaining the recommendations and encouraging a fresh and open approach to alcoholism in Koori environments.

Speaking from South Australia yesterday, Professor Hunter said a mixture of indigenous and non-indigenous participants at the night-time meeting in Dubbo had resulted in “positive and fruitful” discussion on the issue.

He said the session had been far more productive than others he had already conducted and indicated the city’s willingness to confront and address the problem.

Yesterday he told the Daily Liberal that one of the messages being sent out to the broader community and in particular to health workers was that many young Aboriginal men and women were not receptive to advice from others to quit drinking.

But Professor Hunter said research had revealed that by the time they reached their forties “about one-third of Aborigines who ever consumed alcohol give it up”.

And, according to the former child psychiatrist, they do it for two main reasons – health and family.

Professor Hunt said it appeared a “critical” factor in the recovery process was the relationship between sufferers and their “primary care practitioners”.

Meanwhile, the professor said, doctors and health professionals were being offered updated advice on how to manage their indigenous patients and “do everything to keep them alive”.

While admitting the recommendations were a “small part of a big picture”, he said it was hoped they would impact on Aboriginal mortality rates.

Of the four major causes of Aboriginal death – heart disease, lung disease, accidents and violence, and diabetes – three had a direct relationship to alcohol misuse, Professor Hunter said.

Alcohol misuse, he claimed, was in part responsible for the lifespan of Aborigines being 20 years shorter than the rest of the populace as well as seriously undermining the “stability of the childhood environment” within Koori communities.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

Read more