Monthly Archives:July 2019

Williamtown fatal crash:  Family keeping hope alive with DPP appeal ( admin posted on July 28th, 2019 )

TRAGEDY: The scene of the fatal crash at Williamtown on January 21, 2015. In April, nearly a year after being found guilty, Robert Gawdat Shashati was jailed for two years and three months. The DPP has now lodged an inadequacy appeal against the sentence. Picture: Simone De PeakTHE MOTHER of a seven-year-old boy killed when his ice-fuelled uncle crashed into an embankment at Williamtownis hopeful justice can still be served after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) lodged an inadequacy appeal against the two-yearjail term he received last month.

Robert Gawdat Shashati, 38, was weaving in and out of traffic, crossing to the wrong side of the road, swearing, speeding, blasting loud musicand undertaking cars on the grass verge before he crashed on Medowie Road and killed his nephew, Marcus Shashati, on January 21, 2015.

And after a protracted andemotional three-year legal process, which was complicated when the trial judge became ill and died, Shashati was in April jailed for a maximum of four years and six months, with a non-parole period of two years and three months, a decision that prompted Marcus’s mother, Claudia Boyagi Shashati, to collapse outside a Sydney court.

INADEQUACY APPEAL: Robert Shashati outside Sydney’s Downing Centre in March. Picture: Sam Rigney

“Marcus received a death penalty, we received life, and the convicted gets bed-and-breakfast,” Ms Boyagi Shashati said after the decision.

“The penalty served today wasn’t harsh enough, and neither is it long enough.”

And, it appears,the prosecution agrees,with the DPP lodging an inadequacy appeal against the length of the sentence in the Court of Criminal Appeal.

“We are certainly grateful that the DPP have acted so quickly in relation to this matter,” Ms Boyagi Shashati told the Newcastle Herald.

“And we are still hopeful that justice will be fairly served this time around for Marcus.We will keep positive and see it through.”

Shashati was last year found guilty of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail, after a trial in Newcastle District Court.

He had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death, but, despite a blood analysis finding he had 0.32mg/L of methylamphetamine in his system,had denied being “very substantially impaired” by ice at the time of the crash.

Throughout thetrial, Shashati had maintained he had last used ice five days before the crash.

But once convicted, Shashati changed his story and told judge Peter Maiden – who took over the matter when acting judge Raymond McLoughlin became ill and died in January – he now remembered he had smoked ice on the day of the crash.

“The last time I consumed methylamphetamine [before the crash] was after lunch,” Shashati said.

The defence had pressed Mr Maiden for a discount on his sentence because, they said, his plea narrowed the issue of the trial and saved court time.

But his not guilty plea and version about his ice use meantMarcus’s two brothers had to give evidence and re-live that horrific day.

The court heard Shashati had sought help for his drug problems and depression, and had developed a strong religious faith.

“I do find he expressed remorse and is unlikely to offend again in this way,” the judge said.

Judge Maiden’s sentence means that Shashati iscurrently eligible for parole in July, 2020.

The matter is listed for mention in the Court of Criminal Appeal on June 27.

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Qld govt response to koala report slammed ( admin posted on July 28th, 2019 )

Wildlife experts have slammed the Queensland government’s response to a report on koalas.The Queensland government’s response to a expert panel report addressing the koala’s drastically dwindling numbers has been labelled “hot air”.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has vowed to hone the state government’s protection strategy after accepting all six recommendations by an expert panel.

She will also set up a Koala Advisory Council to oversee the strategy after the panel noted the state’s koala population decline may be escalating.

Ms Enoch on Friday said the council would comprise government, industry and community stakeholders, also pointing to the tightened tree-clearing laws passed in state parliament on Thursday.

“The recommendations provide a thorough and innovative template to balance urban growth with the need to address the decline of koalas in southeast Queensland,” she said.

But Australian Koala Foundation boss Deborah Tabart said the response falls short.

“What I would say to the premier is ‘you need to stop any habitats going down now’,” she told AAP.

Panel leader Jonathan Rhodes, from the University of Queensland, said the report has put the state on a clearer path to better koala protection.

He said habitat loss was the primary reason for the decline but it’s not known how many koalas are left in the wild.

Associate Professor Rhodes said the dramatic decline in southeast Queensland was worst shown in the Redlands area where numbers have dropped by 80 per cent in 20 years.

“Loss of habitat is from urban development, which is regulated by the planning framework,” he said.

“If we’re serious about trying to protect koalas in southeast Queensland, we have to look at the planning framework.”

Ms Tabart criticised the establishment of the advisory council given the inclusion of business representatives.

“It’s all just hot air,” she said.

“It’s always just yet another committee. This panel was supposed to be the experts. Who are they going to invite? The developers, I suppose.

“If you do not allow koalas to live in their trees and have access to other bushland, extinction occurs.

“The koala needs a piece of legislation saying, ‘these trees cannot be cut down’. That’s the only way this is going to work.”

Australian Associated Press

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Aust journo jailed in Cambodia in hospital ( admin posted on July 28th, 2019 )

An Australian journalist and filmmaker jailed in Cambodia on espionage charges has been sent to a prison hospital after contracting a chest infection and suffering dizzy spells, his family says.

James Ricketson is staying at the hospital inside the notorious Prey Sar Prison, following a visit to a Phnom Penh hospital last month with chest pains, Alexandra Kennett, partner of James’ son Jesse, told AAP.

“James has been experiencing a large variety of medical complaints since the hot season started. He has recently been moved to the prison hospital for supervision but unfortunately they do not have the provisions to offer him sufficient care,” she said.

She said Ricketson was also suffering from skin irritations, loss of energy, loss of weight and frequent dizzy spells and his family was hopeful that he can be moved to a more equipped hospital for a proper medical examination and diagnosis.

“We are deeply concerned about his health situation given that we have not seen any improvements for months now and as we move further into the hot season, we are worried that his condition is only going to get worse without proper treatment.”

“Without this we have little faith that his condition will improve,” Kennett said.

Ricketson was accused of gathering information that poses a threat to Cambodia’s national security, which has been linked to the dissolution of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, amid a crackdown on political dissent ahead of elections scheduled for July 29.

Police are evaluating data on the journalist’s computer and mobile phones, including thousands of emails, which were confiscated at the time of his arrest in June last year.

The filmmaker sent a letter to the Australian ambassador to Cambodia in April that was published on Facebook on Thursday.

He urged the Australian embassy to ensure he receives “the full medical check-up that was agreed upon,” along with treatment for chest pain and lung fluid.

“It is now 10 days since an X-ray of my chest was taken at the Calmette hospital – if the nature of my problem has been identified by the radiologist or doctor, this information has not been passed on to me,” Ricketson wrote in the letter.

His plight has moved many in Australia, where a petition calling for his release has generated some 66,000 signatures. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has intervened and written a letter to the Cambodian government on Ricketson’s behalf.

He has been refused bail and a date has yet to be set for his next hearing, as the “judge is still conducting his investigation in the case,” his lawyer Peung Yok Hiep told dpa.

Ricketson says there is no case to answer and that he was simply carrying out his work as a journalist when arrested.

The Australian Embassy, which is providing regular consular assistance, in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment.

Australian Associated Press

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Media trying to destroy my legacy: R.Kelly ( admin posted on July 28th, 2019 )

Singer R. Kelly says he is ‘heartbroken’ by the allegations of sexual mistreatment of women.US singer R. Kelly says the media is attempting to distort and destroy his legacy by reporting allegations that he sexually mistreats women.

The R&B artist said in a statement Friday that he is “heartbroken” by the accusations.

Calling himself “a God-fearing man, a son, a brother, and most importantly a father,” Kelly said the media “has dissected and manipulated these false allegations”.

Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, but speculation about his alleged sexual misconduct has continued. Last month, the MuteRKelly hashtag campaign was launched.

He said he is not the subject of any criminal investigations.

Kelly said the accusations “perpetuated by the media” are an “attempt to distort my character and to destroy my legacy that I have worked so hard to build”.

Australian Associated Press

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Australia boosts aid to Myanmar crisis ( admin posted on July 28th, 2019 )

Australia is chipping in an extra $13 million in aid to help people from Myanmar ethnic minority groups fleeing violence at the hands of the country’s military.

The plight of Rohingya people in Rakhine state has received much international attention, following an exodus of more than 700,000 people to neighbouring Bangladesh after a military crackdown last August.

An estimated 500,000 Rohingya people remaining behind in Myanmar are in need of humanitarian relief.

Human rights abuses and conflict in Kachin and the northern Shan states have also ramped up.

Since early April, an estimated 5000 people in the northern Kachin state have fled their homes because of intensified fighting between the military and rebels.

“The Australian government calls on all parties to end the fighting, protect civilian populations, and allow humanitarian assistance to be delivered to affected communities,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

Ms Bishop said the $13 million would go to aid groups such as Save the Children and the UN’s refugee agency to help provide health care, shelter and schooling in Rakhine state.

Save the Children will receive $1 million to train teachers and expand an existing education program in Rakhine state which works with displaced kids.

In Kachin and Shan states Australia’s support would help protect families fleeing violence.

Last week, Ms Bishop announced an extra $15 million of assistance for the Rohingya refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

Australia’s total assistance to the Rohingya crisis is $51.5 million since last September.

Australian Associated Press

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