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.
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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”.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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Counsellor loses WA child sex abuse appeal ( admin posted on June 29th, 2019 )

Victims Rob McAuley and Gui Williams say they’re delighted their abuser will stay behind bars.A former youth counsellor jailed for sexually abusing seven troubled boys in his care almost 30 years ago in Western Australia has lost an appeal against his conviction.
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Allan Keith Huggins was found guilty of 16 offences committed when he was an education officer at the Warminda school-to-work program in 1990 and 1991.

In 2015, he was sentenced in the WA District Court to nine years and three months behind bars.

Huggins took his case to the WA Court of Appeal, arguing there had been a miscarriage of justice but the matter was thrown out on Friday.

He appeared in court via video link and sat quietly as the judgment was handed down within a few minutes.

Victim Rob McAuley said he was “over the moon” with the result.

“It was a lot quicker than I thought it would be,” he told AAP outside court.

Gui Williams said he was still disappointed with the length of the sentence.

“Pedophiles can get off so lightly.”

But Mr Williams said he was glad his abuser was locked up for some time.

“He’s got four walls around him? What have I got and what has Rob got? Our freedom,” he said.

“As soon as I gave my evidence, I felt a lot more at ease … I’m glad today is a really awesome outcome.”

Huggins had presented eight grounds of appeal with “wide-ranging complaints” but was only granted leave to appeal on one about three offences related to one victim.

He claimed documents showed the boy never attended the program but his lawyer failed to tender or make proper use of the documents.

“The verdicts of guilty are not unreasonable. They are supported by evidence that the jury was entitled to accept,” the judges found.

Australian Associated Press

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No shark fears for new man-made surf comp ( admin posted on June 29th, 2019 )

Stephanie Gilmore will lead a strong Australian team on a man-made wave in California this weekend.Shark fears among the world’s best surfers will be momentarily put to rest over the weekend when they lock horns on what’s been dubbed the “best man-made wave in history”.
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The recent Margaret River Pro in Western Australia was sensationally abandoned midway through after two nearby shark attacks.

Surfers were spooked by the attacks, with 2014 world champion Gabriel Medina even contemplating not returning to Margaret River next year.

But there will be no such worries this weekend at the WSL Surf Ranch in California, which produces a 640 metre, bi-directional, man-made wave featuring barrel and manoeuvre sections.

The facility has used the help of 11-time world champion Kelly Slater to fine tune the technology to produce a stunning artificial wave.

Now, the world’s best surfers will get to have their turn on it when they compete in the inaugural Founders’ Cup of Surfing.

Crowds of about 5000 people are expected to watch the USA, Brazil, Australia, Europe, and World teams battle it out on what the WSL claims is the “best man-made wave in history”.

Slater will return from a foot injury to captain team America in the two-day event.

Stephanie Gilmore will skipper a strong Australian outfit featuring Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Tyler Wright, and Matt Wilkinson.

HOW IT WORKS

*Five teams of five athletes. Three men, two women per team.

*Each athlete surfs six waves (three left, three right) during the qualifying round. Each wave scored out of 10.

*Each athlete’s top-scoring left and top-scoring right will contribute to the Team Total (maximum score of 100).

*Top three scoring teams out of the five qualify for the Final.

TEAMS Australia: Stephanie Gilmore, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Tyler Wright, Matt Wilkinson.

Brazil: Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, Adriano de Souza, Silvana Lima, Tiana Hinckel.

Europe: Jeremy Flores, Frederico Morais, Leonardo Fioravanti, Frankie Harrer, Johanne Defay.

US: Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Carissa Moore, Lakey Peterson, Kolohe Andino

World: Jordy Smith (RSA), Bianca Buitendag (RSA), Michel Bourez (FRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Paige Hareb (NZL).

Australian Associated Press

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Family ‘destroyed’ by woman’s murder ( admin posted on June 29th, 2019 )

Kirralee Paepaerei was pregnant when murdered in 2015.When Kylee D’Ugo’s phone rang early on the morning of September 22, 2015 she thought one of her sisters was calling to wish her happy birthday.
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Instead, she was told her heavily pregnant sister, Kirralee Paepaerei, was dead.

Ms D’Ugo broke down as she read out her victim impact statement in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday during a sentence hearing for her sibling’s murderer.

Joshua Homann, 40, was found guilty in March, having stabbed his 37-year-old partner nearly 50 times at their western Sydney townhouse. The attack also resulted in the death of their unborn child.

Ms D’Ugo said the telephone call changed her life forever.

“Not only was my sister gone but my (unborn) niece was gone as well,” she said.

“The pain I feel, the emptiness I have inside, that will never go away.”

Ms D’Ugo said Ms Paepaerei was not just her sister but her best friend and advisor whose “infectious laugh” could brighten a person’s day.

She said she would never forgive Homann.

“You have destroyed me and my family beyond repair.”

While Homann had not denied causing his partner’s death, his lawyer had told the jurors the case was about mental illness, rather than domestic violence or drug use.

He sat with head bowed as victim impact statements from eight family members were read out on Friday.

Ms Paepaerei’s mother, Joyce D’Ugo, said hating Homann since her daughter’s death had been “draining her life”.

However she said hearing him lie during his trial had released that hate.

“I realised you are not worth the energy to hate you,” she said.

The distraught mother, wearing a shirt with a picture of Ms Paepaeri on it, said her daughter had been her “strength in life” and had a “heart of gold”.

“Kirralee was so loved,” she said.

Homann will be sentenced on May 25.

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple zero.

Australian Associated Press

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A season to remember and a night to savour ( admin posted on June 29th, 2019 )

Jets captain Nigel Boogaard. Picture: Max Mason-HubersREGARDLESS of the result of Saturday’sA-League final, the Newcastle Jets have done the city and the entire Hunter region proud with their efforts on and off the field in 2017-18.
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The season has been a gripping one from start to finish.

A thumping first round win over arch-rivals the Central Coast Mariners was an early omen but after two wooden spoons in three years, nobody was getting ahead of themselves.

Even as the season progressed, with the Jets established in a clear second place, there was a feeling that it was all too good to be true, that somehow, against the odds, the wheels would fall off again as they had in previous years.

That nagging worry evaporated after the club’s season-defining victory against Sydney FC on March 3. Even after that win, most football pundits had already written the sky blues into the season decider, but as the Sydneysiders’ loss to Melbourne Victory showed last weekend, there are no certainties in football.

That loss has handed Newcastle an unexpected home final, and all of the advantages that comewith it.

It might be standard A-League procedure to award the final to the highest-ranking team, but there will always be pressure to play the match in either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, and the A-League is to be congratulated for allowing itto stay at McDonald Jones Stadium.

That decision means the eyes of the footballing world will be on Newcastle on Saturday night: hence theplea from Newcastle City Council chief executive Jeremy Bath for supporters to be on their best behaviour.

It also means that the FFA has confidence in Newcastle’s ability tohost such a high-profile event, a confidence buttressed by itssuccess as one of five host cities for the 2015 Asian Cup, and as the venue forSeptember’s Matildas win over Brazil.

And it’s not only the football world watching Newcastle. The lead-up to the final has given the regiona solid dose of national media attention this week –a rare opportunity to promote our city on a wider stage.

Hopefully, the Jets will defeat their Victorian opponents, and the focus will stay on the city for a little longer.

Even if (heaven help) the result does not go our way, everyone involved with the Jets can hold their heads high as having achieved far more than even the truest of true believers could have reasonably expected.

And with most of the team signed on for next year, tonight could be just the beginning.

ISSUE: 38,791.

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What to expect from the first episode of Picnic at Hanging Rock ( admin posted on June 29th, 2019 )

Ruby Rees, Samara Weaving, Madeleine Madden and Lily Sullivan in Picnic at Hanging Rock. Photo: ShowcaseYOUR Sunday night television plans are sorted.
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The new six-part drama series Picnic at Hanging Rock, re-imagined from Joan Lindsey’s 1967 novel of the same name, screensat8.30pmon Foxtel’s Showcase channel.

Shot on location at Hanging Rock and other sites in Victoria, the series will also feature on Amazon Prime in the US andthe BBC in Britain as well as being screened in France and New Zealand.

It is also available toFoxtel On Demand subscribers and will stream on Foxtel Now.

From the outset of the first episode, it is clear the stunning imagery and cinematography will be as impressive as the cast’s performances.

Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) stars as Mrs Appleyard in the drama series Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer plays Mrs Appleyard, the head of an elite ladies boarding school.

We meet her as she prepares herself to start a new life far from England in remote regional Victoria.

Events of the first episode focus on the lead up to the mysterious disappearance of schoolgirls Miranda (Lily Sullivan), Marion (Madeleine Madden) and Irma (Samara Weaving) at Hanging Rock on February 14, 1900.

With six hours to tell the story as opposed to the two hours Peter Weir took in his 1975 adaptation, Foxtel’s new drama will have plenty of scope to develop the characters and let audiences understand and bond with them before the series finale.

Scenes at Hanging Rock and surrounding areas were filmed over two weeks in 2017.

Picnic At Hanging Rock | Valentine’s Day Tease | showcase on FoxtelFoxtel’s executive director of television Brian Walsh said Picnic at Hanging Rock contiues to fascinate people worldwide.

“The reaction we have received from broadcasters and video platforms in many countries is an enormous boost of confidence for our local industry and paves the way for the Australian film and television community to take its skills and expertise to audiences around the globe,” he said.

“It is a watershed moment for the talented creatives involved and testament to Foxtel’s unwavering commitment to Australian storytelling.”

Read more: Picnic at Hanging Rock in Clunes

Macedon Ranges Shire Councilcommunity wellbeing directorKaren Stevens said it was exciting to see Picnic at Hanging Rock told to a new generation.

“The original film and book brought attention to the area and brought in many visitors and it’s good to see this much loved story brought to a new generation,” she said.

“Crews spent around 10 days filming at the Rock and also filmed at Sanitorium Lake at Mount Macedon Regional Park.”

“We anticipate that the mini-series will inspire even more people to visit Hanging Rock and the broader region and look forward to welcoming people to our area.”

Ms Stevens said every precaution was taken by everyone involved to ensure filming did not affect local flora and fauna.

“Filming was guided and supervised by council to ensure it did not impact on the environment of the reserve,” she said.

We ensured the filming conformed to environmental and other requirements and the Rock remained open to visitors, who were still able to access it.”

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