Bodies of Cory Breton, 28, and Iuliana Triscaru, 31, found inside metal box pulled from Logan dam


au.news.yahoo.com

Two bodies found in ‘large metal box’ following disappearance of Cory Breton and Iuliana Triscaru

Two bodies have been found inside a “large metal box” in a dam in Brisbane’s south during the search for missing Logan pair Cory Breton and Iuliana Triscaru.

A police spokesman wouldn’t confirm if bodies had been found however he said police had been searching for a steel box about 2m x 5m, which had since been found at a Kingston address.

At a press conference earlier today Detective Supt Dave Hutchinson stated: “We have located just after 8am this morning a large metal box submerged in one of the dams.“

“We’re still in the process of removing that box. It’s still in the dam at this point so we haven’t been able to open the box however we do fear that the box will contain the bodies of the two missing persons.”


The “large metal box” has since been removed by police. Source: 7 News.

Cory Breton and Iuliana Triscaru have been missing for two and a half weeks.

A large scale police search has been under-way today at Mudgee st, Kingston near Scrubby Creek for the missing two.

The remains will be subject to post-mortem examinations and positive identification.


The huge search efforts have continued today. Source: 7 News.

Six people have been charged with murder following an investigation into the disappearance the two.

Two men and a woman charged with murder made a brief appearance in court this morning.

Lawyers for Webbstar Latu, 31, Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata, 21, and Ngatokoona Mareti, 36, described them as ‘associates’ and not friends during court.

Mareti’s lawyer said she was ‘devastated and shocked’.

A 24-year-old Logan Central man, another 21-year-old man and a 22-year-old man of no fixed address have also been charged with two counts of murder.

The lawyer for one of the people charged, a 36-year-old woman, said she has seven children.

Overnight four people assisted police following the mysterious disappearance of the south east Queensland pair.

Two men were arrested after police intercepted a vehicle on the Gateway Motorway at Belmont just before 5pm yesterday.

Police allegedly located a quantity of methylamphetamine during a search of the vehicle.

A spokesman said the three were assisting police with their inquiries into the disappearance of Breton, 28, and Triscaru, 31.

The two had been missing for more than two weeks.

A search operation conducted by specialist police will be continuing today at a location off Mudgee Street, Kingston.

Detectives also spoke with 23-year-old Lelan Harrington, who was reported missing on January 25, one day after his friends vanished.

Initially police were searching for all three, however Mr Harrington was found safe at a Logan home on Tuesday.

Two crime scenes had been set up in the suburb of Kingston, including one at Mr Harrington’s home.


Logan pair Cory Breton, 28, and mother-of-three Iuliana Triscaru, 31. Photo: Queensland Police.

On Wednesday, police divers and helicopters searched bushland but failed to locate any traces of the missing pair.

Police were also seeking dashcam video from the Cleveland ferry terminal carpark between January 24-26.

A silver Mitsubishi Pajero which belonged to Mr Breton was found in the carpark after he disappeared.

Mr Breton reportedly discussed going on a holiday to Stradbroke Island before he vanished.

$3000 was also withdrawn from his bank account before he disappeared, according to police.


Police have released the image of a vehicle they suspect was involved in the crime. Source: QPS media.

Police have appealed for information in relation to this investigation and are seeking public assistance in relation to the movements of a dark green 1999 Toyota Hilux utility, Queensland Registration 684 VEP on the evening of 24 January 2016.

Ms Triscaru’s mother, told media on Tuesday her daughter was ‘a very good girl and a very good mum’.

“I’d be happy with just one call saying ‘Mama, I’m still alive’. That’s it,” she said.

Mr Breton’s partner, Miranda, also told media she had a ‘gut feeling’ and it was ‘not very good’.

In a statement released to 7 News the family stated: “Iuliana Triscaru was kind hearted and generous. Always smiling, she had a positive attitude towards life and loved her children more than anything. To know that she is no longer in life because she was murdered is extremely shocking, disturbing and very sad.”


 

The bodies of two people have been found locked in a large metal box that had been submerged in a dam at Kingston, south of Brisbane.

Police believe the bodies to be those of Cory Breton, 28, and Iuliana Triscaru, 31, who were reported missing last month.

The box was taken to Brisbane’s John Tonge Centre for forensic examination and found to contain the remains of two people.

Post mortems are being carried out to identify the pair.

A third person who had been reported missing, Lelan Harrington, was found alive on Tuesday.

The trio’s disappearance, and the motive behind the suspected murder of Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru, was “probably” drug related, police said.

Six people charged with two counts of murder

Six people – five men and one woman – were charged with murder on Wednesday night following an investigation into the pair’s disappearance.

Davy Malu Junion Taiao, Stou Daniels, Trent Michael Thrupp, all 22, Webbstar Latu, 31, Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata, 24, and 36-year-old Ngatokoona Maretti all face two counts of murder.

They were remanded in custody during a hearing at Brisbane Magistrates Court and will face court next month.

Lawyer Andrew Owens, who is representing Maretti, said she was a mother of seven and desperate to get back to her children.

Mr Owens said he did think Maretti knew the victims but was yet to receive formal instructions.

“I don’t think friends but more associates, but it’s really early days to see what her involvement is really,” he said.

He said his client was in shock but would fight the charges and apply for bail at a later stage.

Police looking for two more people

Detective Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said police were still looking for two other people as part of the investigation but they were not suspects.

“One is a 32-year-old male from Crestmead and the other is a 25-year-old male who was residing at the Dewer Street unit,” he said.

“We are looking for these people to speak with them – we believe they can assist us with our enquiries.

“We would encourage them to come in and speak with us now.

“Circumstances have changed, a number of people are in custody and we would ask those people to come forward and speak with the police.

“The motive is something we’re still looking at but we suspect that it probably will be drug related.”

Photo: Police at the dam site on vacant land around Mudgee Street at Kingston, south of Brisbane. (ABC News: Nick Castellaro)


Reports of two bodies found as police search for missing Logan pair

Iuliana Triscaru and Cory Breton went missing in the Logan area in January. Picture: Queensland Police Service

Lauren McMah with AAP

UPDATE: TWO bodies have been found in a metal box that was sunk in a dam south of Brisbane.

The two bodies are yet to be identified but police fear they are the remains of Cory Breton, 28, and Iulian Triscaru, 31, who have been missing since January 24.

Police made the grim discovery in the Logan suburb of Kingston, behind an equipment hire property near Scrubby Creek.

Detective Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said police were still establishing a motive for the suspected murders.

“The motive is something we’re still looking at. We suspect that it probably will be drug-related,” he said.

Police use a crane to retrieve the metal box. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Police use a crane to retrieve the metal box. Picture: AAP Image/Dan PeledSource:AAP

The discovery of the 2m-long box, believed to contain the remains of Mr Breton, 28, and mother-of-three Ms Triscaru, 31, came just hours after police charged six people with their murders.

Two of those people were arrested after armed police intercepted their BMW on Gateway Motorway at Belmont, southeast of Brisbane, before 5pm Wednesday.

Police charged six people — five men and one woman — with two counts of murder. They are Davy Malu Junior Taiao, 21, Stou Daniels, 21, Trent Michael Thrupp, 22, Webbstar Latu, 31, Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata, 24 and Ngatokoona Maretti, 36.

Police load the metal box into a van after pulling it out of the dam. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Police load the metal box into a van after pulling it out of the dam. Picture: AAP Image/Dan PeledSource:AAP

The Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday morning remanded all six people in custody. They will next face court on March 21.

Lawyer Alan Phillips, who represented three of the accused, said it was too early to comment when approached by waiting media outside court.

Detectives are still searching for two men, aged 32 and 25, who they want to question over the pair’s suspected murders.

Police are also looking for a 1999 Toyota HiLux ute they believe was used to transport the box, and two fluorescent yellow ratchet straps used to tie it down.

Supt Hutchinson said the family of Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru were “devastated”.

“This is something that has occurred very quickly, obviously it’s just evolved over the last couple of nights, and how the realisation will be hitting everybody of what has occurred.”

He said detectives have worked 24 hours a day on the case.

Earlier, police set up two crime scenes in the Logan suburb of Kingston, including at the home of 23-year-old Lelan Harrington, who had disappeared along with Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru but was found safe and well on Tuesday.

Police said Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru have been missing since January 24.

On Wednesday, police divers, dogs and a helicopter scoured dams, a creek and bushland around the site but failed to discover any trace of the missing pair.

Concerned neighbours near the bushland said their children often went swimming in the dams that surrounded their property.

“We’ve lived here for 30 years and we have never seen anything like this,” Janina Poom told the Courier Mail.

“We’re at the end of the street so we get a lot of hoons and the like, but that’s about it.”

Mr Breton’s partner Miranda (left) and Triscaru’s mother Victoria speak to the media at Logan police headquarters on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Ed Jackson

Mr Breton’s partner Miranda (left) and Triscaru’s mother Victoria speak to the media at Logan police headquarters on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Ed JacksonSource:AAP

A silver Mitsubishi Pajero belonging to Mr Breton was discovered in the carpark of the Cleveland ferry terminal following his disappearance.

He had reportedly discussed going on holiday to Stradbroke Island before he went missing.

He also withdrew $3000 just days before his disappearance, police said.

Ms Triscaru’s mother, Victoria, fronted the media on Tuesday in a public appeal for help to find her daughter.

“I miss her. She’s a very good girl and a very good mum,” she said. “The kids ask me all the time, ‘Where Mummy, where Mummy?’

“I’d be happy with just one call saying, ‘Mama, I’m still alive.’ That’s it.”

Mr Breton’s partner, Miranda, has told reporters of her fears. “Unfortunately, my gut feeling is not very good,” she said.

“Nothing adds up … it’s like a big puzzle that’s missing a lot of pieces.”

Police officers establish a crime scene near bushland in Kingston, south of Brisbane, as the search continues.

Police officers establish a crime scene near bushland in Kingston, south of Brisbane, as the search continues.Source:AAP

Miranda said Cory had dropped her at the airport as she headed to Newcastle in NSW to visit family. “That was the last time we spoke,” she said.

“He seemed in good spirits. He was talking about starting work with a mate of his that I know who runs a company in trade work of some description.

“I’ve got a million and one scenarios running through my mind as to what may have happened but I just want to know that he’s OK.

“It’s breaking us all that he’s missing — we’ve got a three-year-old daughter who is wondering where he is.

“He didn’t seem to be in trouble.”

Supt Hutchison said on Tuesday: “It’s every possibility they could be in fear for some unknown reason and have gone into hiding.

“There has been suggestion that some of them have decided to start a new life.

“All these are rumours.”

Police establish two crime scenes in search for missing Logan duo. Video: 7 News Queensland


 

Perth mum Janet Kirby jailed over drunken crash that killed her daughter


‘Drinking game’ before fatal crash

Janet Kirby had a fatal car crash after playing a drinking game.

A mother who was drunkenly skylarking with a carload of teenagers before she crashed and her teenage daughter was thrown to her death from the boot has been sentenced to a four-and-a-half year jail term.

Janet Louise Kirby cried in the dock of the District Court this morning as Judge Linda Petrusa said her offending was egregious and the sentence had to send a message to the community that driving was a privilege and cars were a lethal weapon.

Supporters of the 48-year-old grandmother, who had been playing a drinking game with her 15-year-old daughter Lois before she got behind the wheel of the car and lost control on Marmion Avenue on March 14 last year, sobbed uncontrollably when the jail term was handed down.

“This event is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy which could have been avoided,” Judge Petrusa said.

“It is a serious example of dangerous driving.”

Kirby had a blood alcohol level of 0.110 – more than twice the legal limit – when she crashed as she was driving six passengers aged 15 to 20 to a party in Ridgewood.

Egged on by the teenagers, two of whom were travelling in the rear luggage compartment of the Jeep Cherokee without seats or belts, Kirby started tailgating a moped and swerving from one side of the road to the other in an attempt to scare the rider and his pillion passenger.

She then attempted to overtake the moped and lost control of the jeep, which crossed two lanes and landed on its roof.
Louis died from multiple injuries after she was thrown from the car and three other passengers were injured.

Judge Petrusa said she accepted that Kirby had no previous criminal record, posed a low risk of re-offending and was genuinely remorseful.

“There can be no greater deterrent sentence than the one you have imposed on yourself,” she said.

But Judge Petrusa said Lois’s death was also a loss to her father and siblings and the sentence had to send a message that driving was a privilege.

“Your inaccurate belief as to your level of intoxication and your desire to keep Lois smiling may explain your decision to drive, but it does not excuse it,” she said.

“The deliberate skylarking was so hazardous that your earlier failures seem almost minor in comparison.”

Kirby will be eligible to apply for parole after serving two-and-a-half years in jail and was also disqualified from driving for three years.


Perth mum Janet Kirby jailed over drunken Merriwa crash that killed teenage daughter

Updated about 5 hours ago

A Perth drunk driver who crashed her car after trying to scare a moped rider, killing her teenage daughter who was in the boot, and injuring three others, has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail.

Janet Kirby, 48, was twice the legal alcohol limit when she lost control of her car in the northern suburb of Merriwa in March last year.

She had been playing drinking games with her daughter Lois, 15, before driving the teenager and four friends to a party in Perth’s northern suburbs.

However Kirby lost control of the vehicle after swerving across the road to try to scare the moped rider and his pillion passenger.

Lois, who with one other passenger was travelling unrestrained in the luggage compartment, was thrown from the vehicle on Marmion Avenue and died.

Police who attended the scene smelled alcohol on Kirby’s breath, and she later recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.11.

District Court Judge Linda Petrusa called the crash a “tragedy” but said it was “a tragedy that could have been avoided”.

“You failed in your responsibility at the first hurdle and compounded it by deliberately skylarking,” Judge Petrusa told Kirby.

She described Kirby’s actions as “deliberate” and a “grave breach of the standards” expected by drivers on the roads.

“As wretched as the death of Lois is … it cannot be forgotten your actions caused injuries to three others,” Judge Petrusa said.

“And you placed at risk the lives of … two others in the car and the two young people on the moped.”

Judge Petrusa said while she accepted Kirby was genuinely remorseful and suffering significant emotional pain, a message had to be sent to the community that driving was a “privilege” and motorists needed to take into account the safety of others.

Kirby will have to serve a minimum of two-and-a-half years behind bars before she can be released on parole.

From other news sites:

Brissy cop charged with murder over baby son’s death in 2014-Still not named


Update 1/02/16

Brisbane policeman Colin Randall appears in court over alleged murder of baby son

A senior police constable from the Brisbane region has been remanded in custody after facing court charged with the murder of his two-month-old son more than 18 months ago.

Colin David Randall, 38, faced the Brisbane Magistrates Court for a brief hearing this morning.

Police and the Crime and Corruption Commission have spent more than a year investigating the baby boy’s death, but it was not reported to the public until the weekend.

Randall was remanded in custody and the matter is due to return to court next month.

Cop’s murder charge a ‘tragic event’

POLICE are expected to allege an officer charged with murdering his baby son was having an extramarital affair with a woman in the Queensland Police Service.

A senior constable from Brisbane Region has been charged with murder.
Why the hell has is taking so long to name one of their own? Queensland Police Service pays its senior constables between $68,894 and $82,638 a year. I GUARANTEE Jo Blow doesn’t get these pathetic privileges for something no where near the crimes relating to a death of a child
By Matt Eaton

Sat 30 Jan 2016, 5:15pm

A 38-year-old Queensland Police senior constable has been charged with murder over the death of his baby son.

Police charged the man after a joint investigation by the child trauma task force within the child safety and sexual crime group, state crime command and the ethical standards command.

The investigation related to the death of a two-month-old boy at a property in Victoria Point on Brisbane’s bay-side on June 28, 2014.

The officer from the Brisbane region, who had already been suspended from duty with the Queensland Police Service, is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

At a media conference on Saturday afternoon, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said he could not release too many details about the case other but confirmed “there were fairly significant injuries to the baby”.

He said the officer involved was suspended about a month after the child’s death and defended the decision by investigators not to speak publicly on the officer’s alleged involvement before today.

In terms of any sort of infant homicide, they aren’t necessarily made known to the media.

Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon

“Our community needs to have confidence, in fact great confidence, that no matter who is responsible for these types of crimes, that its police service will be relentless and committed in ensuring that the investigations are brought to conclusion and that the offenders are brought to justice,” he said.

“Now this is a very tragic event, with the loss of a young, innocent life and the devastation of a family.

“I’m a father — these sorts of crimes, irrespective of who commits them, are tragic and terrible.

“I can only say that we are committed, as we have been in this instance, to making sure the offender is brought to justice.

“Particularly in this one, we’ve [been] very careful, hence our involvement with the Crime and Corruption Commission to make sure everything has been done properly.”

Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said they would have kept the investigation away from public attention regardless of who was involved.

“In terms of any sort of infant homicide, they aren’t necessarily made known to the media,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter whether there’s a police officer charged or a member of the community.

“They are extremely difficult, complex and protracted investigations where you have expert evidence involved and they take many, many months to resolve.”

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said the officer was suspended on full pay but now that he had been charged this would be reviewed.


Police officer still paid after baby’s death

Updated: 6:27 pm, Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Queensland police officer accused of murdering his baby son has spent the last year-and-a-half suspended from duty on full pay.

The 38-year-old senior constable was charged with murder on Saturday morning after his two-month-old son succumbed to ‘fairly significant injuries’ at Victoria Point in Brisbane’s east in June 2014.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the baby’s death was immediately considered suspicious and the officer was suspended ‘about a month after the incident’.

‘The usual procedure we have is when under investigation, before any charges are laid, the officers are suspended on pay,’ Mr Gollschewski told reporters on Saturday.

‘Now that he has been charged that will be reviewed and consideration will be given to suspension without pay.

‘That’s a technical legal matter that has to be considered properly.’

Queensland Police Service pays its senior constables between $68,894 and $82,638 a year.

But Mr Gollschewski defended the amount of time the investigation took, saying infant homicides were difficult to investigate because they relied upon medical expert evidence that could take months to obtain and verify.

‘This is a very tragic event with the loss of a young innocent life and the devastation of a family,’ he said.

‘These types of investigations are very difficult, challenging and, in this instance, quite protracted.’

He also defended the decision not to release any information about the incident before now, including the fact an officer was suspended on suspicion of a child’s murder, because detectives needed to maintain ‘the integrity of the investigation’.

The deputy commissioner said the lengthy investigation was aided by the Crime and Corruption Commission and various experts.

‘Our community needs to have confidence, in fact great confidence, that no matter who is responsible for these types of crimes, the police service will be relentless and committed to ensuring the investigations are brought to a conclusion,’ he said.

‘And that the offenders are brought to justice.’

Mr Gollschewski refused to provide any details about the incident itself, saying the matter was now before the courts.

The officer is due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.


 

Brisbane cop to appear in court charged with baby son’s death

January 30, 2016 – 5:12PM

Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski addresses the media with State Crime Command Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon, after a 38-year-old senior constable was charged with the murder of his baby son.Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski addresses the media with State Crime Command Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon, after a 38-year-old senior constable was charged with the murder of his baby son. Photo: Kim Stephens

A Queensland police officer will face court on Monday charged with the murder of his baby son in 2014.

This is a very tragic event with the loss of a young, innocent life and the devastation of a family

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski

The senior constable’s two-month-old boy died after suffering “significant” injuries at his home at bayside Victoria Point, south-east of Brisbane, on June 28, 2014, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said on Saturday.

The 38-year-old was stood down on full pay one month after the child’s death, when an investigation was launched.

He was not on duty at the time the boy died.

The Brisbane region senior constable was arrested and charged on Saturday after a protracted probe involving multiple investigatory agencies, including the police Ethical Standards Command and the independent Crime and Corruption Commission.

As the matter is before the courts, Mr Gollschewski declined to elaborate on how the baby boy is alleged to have died but said the injuries that caused his death were severe.

“It’s a complicated one, other than to say there were fairly significant injuries to the baby,” he said.

“This is a very tragic event with the loss of a young, innocent life and the devastation of a family.

“These types of investigations are very difficult and challenging and in this instance quite protracted.”

Mr Gollschewski defended Queensland Police Service not revealing one of their officers had been stood down subject to a murder investigation until he had been charged.

“As with any of these types of investigations, they are very difficult, it’s very important they are conducted in a way that the evidence is preserved and that we are able to present that to a court so a proper determination can be made,” he said.

“Our community needs to have confidence, great confidence, that no matter who is responsible for these types of crime, the police service will be relentless and committed to ensuring investigations are brought to their conclusion and the offenders are brought to justice.”

State Crime Command Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said all infant murder investigations were lengthy and detailed ones.

“In terms of any infant homicide they are not necessarily made known to members of the media, it doesn’t matter if there is a police officer charged or a member of the community, they are extremely difficult, complex and protracted investigations,” she said.

“Where you have experts involved and they take many, many months to resolve, this particular case is no different to other cases involving infant homicides.”

Mr Gollschewski said the alleged crime was a particularly tragic one.”I’m a father, these sort of crimes, irrespective of who commits them, are tragic and terrible,” he said.

“I can only say that we are committed, as we have been in this instance, to making sure the offender was brought to justice.”

The baby’s father has been remanded in custody to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday, February 1.


 

 

 

Michael Cardamone charged with murder of Victorian mother Karen Chetcuti

Featured


Karen Chetcuti’s neighbour Michael Cardamone charged with her murder at Whorouly

Update 11.43am 19/01/2016

Karen Chetcuti was incapacitated then murdered by her neighbour after she dropped into his house to pick up a punnet of tomatoes, Victorian police have alleged.

Key points:

  • Karen Chetcuti’s neighbour, Michael Cardamone, charged with her murder

  • Body believed to be of Ms Chetcuti found in scrubland

  • Ms Cetcuti allegedly killed when she visited Cardamone, 48, for tomatoes

Michael Cardamone, 48, was this morning charged with Ms Chetcuti’s murder at an out-of-sessions court hearing held at the Wangaratta police station about 1:30am.

He appeared again on Tuesday morning, where police laid another charge of breaching parole against him.

He was remanded in custody.

Ms Chetcuti, a 49-year-old mother of two, was reported missing after disappearing from the small town of Whorouly, near Wangaratta last Tuesday night.

Police search and rescue found a body believed to be that of Ms Chetcuti near Lake Buffalo on Monday afternoon.

The body was found in scrubland off a dirt track and is yet to be formally identified.

A post-mortem examination is being conducted.

Ms Chetcuti’s house shared a boundary with Cardamone’s property, the out-of-sessions court hearing was told.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sol Solomon told the hearing Ms Chetcuti visited Cardamone’s house on Tuesday, January 12 to get a punnet of tomatoes.

Police alleged Cardamone overpowered and incapacitated her, and murdered her somewhere between Whorouly and Dandongedale.

It was also alleged that Cardamone took Ms Chetcuti’s car and burnt it two days later.

The car was found on a bush track near Reform Lookout, not far from Myrtleford.

Cardamone said very little during the brief hearing, responding with his date of birth and address when requested.

He appeared in a white t-shirt, dark tracksuit pants and socks.

He declined to make a statement and said only that he was on prescription medication.

Bail justice Michael Guinane told the hearing the law in Victoria did not allow bail on a murder charge and the outcome of the hearing was fixed.

Chetcuti ‘closely involved’ in Whorouly community

Ms Chetcuti had worked at the Wangaratta Council for 20 years.

The council’s chief executive said staff had been offered counselling.

Brendan McGrath said she was considered a close friend and valued colleague by all who worked there.

“We’re all very shocked and saddened, and we feel for her children and her former husband who was an employee of ours formerly, and the broader Whorouly community, who she’s been very closely involved with,” he said.


 

Update 5.36pm 18/01/2016

The body of missing mother of two, Karen Chetcuti, is found near Lake Buffalo in Victoria’s north-east.

Video of the sad news  Karen Chetcuti-Body Found

Police have found the body of missing mother of two Karen Chetcuti near Lake Buffalo in the state’s north-east.

Ms Chetcuti, 49, from Whorouly, near Wangaratta, had not been seen since she was reported missing on Wednesday after failing to show up to work at the Wangaratta council.

http://www.skynews.com.au/news/national/2016/01/18/body-found-in-search-for-missing-woman.html#ooid=RtdWY5MDE6XfzQNN-As1rP-QqTCBuK5R
Search efforts focused around Lake Buffalo, south of Myrtleford, on Monday. The body was found in the scrub-land at the Lake Buffalo weir wall off Croppers Creek Road about 1.35pm.

CCTV footage of Karen Chetcuti leaving ALDI in Wangaratta on Tuesday.CCTV footage of Karen Chetcuti leaving ALDI in Wangaratta on Tuesday.

Police are yet to formally identify the body but it is believed to be Ms Chetcuti.

Police arrested Ms Chetcuti’s neighbour Michael Cardamone, 48, on Sunday in connection with the suspicious disappearance.

Though Mr Cardamone told Fairfax Media on Friday he was the last to see her, he denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Victoria Police divers search the the Ovens River for Karen Chetcuti.Victoria Police divers search the the Ovens River for Karen Chetcuti. Photo: Mark Jesser

Mr Cardamone is assisting police with inquiries. No charges have been laid.

In a bizarre twist, Fairfax Media understands Mr Cardamone was arrested after he phoned relatives on Saturday claiming he had been kidnapped and was in the boot of a car.

Police, who were notified of the call by his solicitor, located the car in Melbourne, eventually intercepting it in Ringwood after Mr Cardamone allegedly evaded police.

SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday.

SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday. Photo: James Wiltshire

 

Police, along with SES crews including dive teams, have been searching the areas of Whorouly and Myrtleford trying to find any sign of Ms Chetcuti since her disappearance.

The last confirmed sighting of Ms Chetcuti was at the Whorouly Hotel on Tuesday at 7.20pm.

 

Ms Chetcuti’s burnt-out red Citroen was found found on a dirt road near Myrtleford at 5.15am on Thursday.

When police searched her home they found the lights on and her phone and handbag left behind.

Ms Chetcuti lived alone at the Whorouly property, sharing custody of her two teenage children with her former husband.

Speaking before her body was found, friend Greg Haysom said Ms Chetcuti was a “major part of Whorouly” and recently helped raise over $20,000 for the football club change rooms.

Mr Haysom described Ms Chetcuti as a “great mother” to her two children.

“I don’t think you will find anyone who would say a bad word about her, she has the most infectious smile,” he said.


scumbag rapist neighbour has been arrested over her disappearance, police divers searching wells.

MAJOR UPDATE 11.50AM 17/01/16

A 48-year-old man has been taken into custody by Victorian police investigating the disappearance of Karen Chetcuti.

The 49-year-old mother of two was last seen in her home town of Whorouly – in Victoria’s north east – on Tuesday night.

Her burnt-out car was found 20 kilometres away on Thursday.

Police have declared a crime scene at the property of her neighbour, Michael Cardamone.

Police have declared a crime scene at the property of her neighbour, Michael Cardamone.

Police have declared a crime scene at the property of her neighbour, Michael Cardamone.

He has previously denied any involvement in Ms Chetcuti’s disappearance.

Police divers are searching wells on the missing mother’s property.

Ms Chetcuti was reported missing by a concerned friend on Wednesday at 9:30pm after she did not show up for work that day.

Following her disappearance, police found Ms Chetcuti’s purse and handbag at her home, but her mobile phone was missing.

Earlier this week, Detective Sergeant Sol Soloman from the homicide squad said her disappearance was out of character.

“She is described by people who know her as being very punctual, efficient, she’s very highly thought of.

“Local police went to her home and she wasn’t there. Her car was missing but it was discovered that there were lights on in the house and her handbag and purse were still there.”

Police on the property of Karen Chetcuti on Sunday morning, where divers are searching wells. Photo: Police on the property of Karen Chetcuti on Sunday morning, where divers are searching wells. (Supplied: Reece Rayner)


Convicted rapist says he was the last to see Whorouly mother Karen Chetcuti before she disappeared

January 16, 2016 – 3:43PM

Tammy Mills, Tom Cowie

Police arrive at Karen Chetcuti's house on Saturday.Police arrive at Karen Chetcuti’s house on Saturday. Photo: James Wiltshire

A convicted rapist says he was the last person to see a mother-of-two before she disappeared from the small Victorian country town of Whorouly.

Michael Cardamone told Fairfax Media he was not involved with Karen Chetcuti’s disappearance, now the subject of a homicide squad investigation, but he was the last person to see her before she went missing.

“I don’t know what’s happened,” he said.

Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti.Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti. Photo: Facebook

Mr Cardamone, who was released from jail last year after serving nine years for rape, lives around the corner from the 49-year-old mother in the town of Whorouly, near Wangaratta.

Their properties share a boundary.

Victoria Police say the last confirmed sighting of Ms Chetcuti was leaving the Whorouly Hotel at 7.20pm on Tuesday.

Police released this photo of Karen Chetcuti's car.Police released this photo of Karen Chetcuti’s car.

But Mr Cardamone said he had invited Ms Chetcuti to his home to collect some tomatoes that he had grown and she was at his property from 8.40pm to 9.15pm that night.

“When she left here, she took off towards home,” he said.

He said the container of tomatoes she had taken was later found on a bench in Ms Chetcuti’s home.

Police and SES search Karen Chetcuti's property at Whorouly.Police and SES search Karen Chetcuti’s property at Whorouly. Photo: Blair Thomson

Mr Cardamone was also interviewed by other media on Friday, telling them he had spoken to Ms Chetcuti over the fence at 9.15pm on Tuesday after he had been picking tomatoes.

Police searched parts of Mr Cardamone’s property on Friday and he said detectives had questioned him.

“I’m stressed out to the max, I haven’t been sleeping,” he said.

Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti.

Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti. Photo: Facebook

Mr Cardamone said he was being targeted because of his “incarceration”. He said investigators were welcome to search his home.

He said a white car had been seen leaving Ms Chetcuti’s home on Tuesday night, with her red car following behind. Her car was found burnt-out in Myrtleford, about 20 kilometres away, at 5.15am on Thursday.

Mr Cardamone said he saw Ms Chetcuti’s red car parked in a side street near the Target store in Myrtleford sometime before it was set alight.

It is understood another neighbour saw a white car leaving the Ms Chetcuti’s home on Tuesday night, but it is unclear as to what time.

Police said they were speaking to a number of people in relation to the disappearance.

Homicide Squad investigators visited Mr Cardamone’s home shortly after 2pm on Friday.

Three detectives spent about five minutes at the home, knocked on his door and checked around the back and garage.

There was no sign of Mr Cardamone, though his white ute was parked outside. Detectives would not say why they were there.

Earlier on Friday, homicide squad detective Sergeant Sol Solomon said suspicions were raised about the disappearance when Ms Chetcuti did not turn up for work on Wednesday.

He said police checked her home and found the lights had been left on, and her handbag and wallet were still there. At that stage, her car was still missing.

“It certainly paints a picture of the involvement of a second party in her disappearance,” he said.

“There was no sign of any struggle or disturbance having occurred there.”

Ms Chetcuti, the mother of two teenagers, is well-known and liked in the Whorouly and Wangaratta area.

She had moved from Melbourne to Whorouly with her husband, who she is now separated from, to run the pub about two decades ago. The pair were publicans for about five years before Ms Chetcuti began working for the City of Wangaratta, where she had most recently been a records coordinator.

“Karen is a popular and valued member of staff,” City of Wangaratta chief executive officer Brendan McGrath said.

Friend Greg Haysom said Ms Chetcuti, who serves on a number of committees, is a “major part of Whorouly” and recently helped raise over $20,000 for the football club change rooms.

Mr Haysom described Ms Chetcuti as a “great mother” to her two children.

“I don’t think you will find anyone who would say a bad word about her, she has the most infectious smile,” he said.

Detectives continued to search Whorouly and Myrtleford on Saturday.

Police focused on a number of areas of interest, including the properties behind Ms Chetcuti’s.

The area is mostly sparse farmland and long grass, but officers did go through a junkyard of old cars a couple of kilometres behind the missing woman’s property.

There were also line searches in long grass adjacent to where her burnt-out car was found on Thursday morning.

The car, now at Wangaratta police station, was found engulfed in flames on Halls Road, which becomes a dirt road leading up to a lookout in Myrtleford, about 20 kilometres from Whorouly.

The road runs next to state forest, in which specialist police on dirt bikes went into on Friday morning.

On the other side of it is paddocks, which police and SES focused on for their line searches. Houses are nearby.

Police released new photos of Ms Chetcuti and her car in a further attempt to garner information as to her whereabouts.

Detectives would like to speak to anyone who saw Ms Chetcuti or her red 2004 Citroen Sara, with registration XWC 149, any time after 7.20pm on Tuesday.

They would also like to speak to anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area.

Detectives said they have also narrowed down Ms Chetcuti’s movements on Tuesday, releasing security vision of her at Aldi in Wangaratta between 5.12pm and 5.17pm before she went to the Whorouly Hotel for a drink.

Detectives said on Friday she had not been seen or heard from since she left the hotel at 7.20pm.

This is despite her neighbour Mr Cardamone claiming Ms Chetcuti had been at his property between 8.40pm and 9.15pm.

Investigators urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.


Hunt continues for missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti

January 17, 2016 – 6:51AM

Tammy Mills, Chris Vedelago

The search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti is entering its fourth day, with the police focus still squarely on the Whorouly and Myrtleford areas.

Police arrive at the house of the man who says he was the last person to see Karen Chetcuti the day she went missing.Police arrive at the house of the man who says he was the last person to see Karen Chetcuti the day she went missing. Photo: James Wiltshire

The investigation into the disappearance of a Whorouly woman took a turn on Saturday night, with police now searching for a convicted rapist who said he was the last to see her before she disappeared.

Homicide Squad detectives visited the home of Michael Cardamone, whose property borders missing woman Karen Chetcuti’s​, twice on Saturday to speak with him, but he was not home. It is understood police could not locate him.

They have refused to comment on whether Mr Cardamone, a convicted rapist, is a person of interest, though Mr Cardamone himself told Fairfax Media and News Corp in bizarre interviews on Friday that he believed he was being targeted because of his prior offence.

Police arrive and door knock at the house of the man who gave Karen Chetcuti tomatoes on the day she went missing. James WiltshirePolice arrive and door knock at the house of the man who gave Karen Chetcuti tomatoes on the day she went missing. James Wiltshire Photo: James Wiltshire

In both interviews, conducted separately, he was adamant he had nothing to do with her disappearance and said he was the last to see her. He told Fairfax Media the well-known and well-liked 49-year-old had come over to his house to collect tomatoes, which he grows. She stayed there, he said, from 8.40pm to 9.15pm on Tuesday.

The search for Mrs Chetcuti is entering its fourth day, with the police focus still squarely on the Whorouly and Myrtleford areas.

The last confirmed sighting police have of Ms Chetcuti was leaving the Whorouly Hotel at 7.20pm on Tuesday.

SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday.SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday. Photo: James Wiltshire

State Emergency Service personnel searched Mr Cardamone’s farm on Friday and he said police had spoken to him.

There was no sign of Mr Cardamone on Saturday and his white ute remained in the driveway.

Fairfax Media was told on Saturday there may be at least three suspects being investigated over the disappearance.

Meanwhile, the SES conducted line searches in the paddocks that surround Ms Chetcuti’s home, as well as behind the Whorouly Hotel.

Police also searched old cars in a junkyard, situated about two kilometres behind Ms Chetcuti’s.

Line searches were also happening in paddocks next to the road where the mother-of-two’s car was found burnt out 20 kilometres away in Myrtleford.

The red Citroen was dumped and set alight in Halls Road, which becomes a dirt road leading up to a lookout close to the town.

Police released further details and a photo of the 2004 Citroen Xsara, registration plate XWC 149, on Saturday in the hope it would elicit more information.

“Detectives are now piecing together Karen’s movements and are requesting public assistance,” Victoria Police said in a statement.

They confirmed an earlier sighting of Ms Chetcuti, at the Aldi supermarket in Wangaratta between 5.12pm and 5.17pm on Tuesday.

Police said she was then at the Whorouly Hotel until 7.20pm.

Suspicions were raised when she did not turn up for work at the City of Wangaratta on Wednesday, where she most recently worked as its records coordinator.

A friend reported her missing later on Wednesday before her burnt-out car was found at 5.15am on Thursday. That, plus the state her house was left in – undisturbed, but with her car gone, handbag still there and lights still on – triggered a homicide squad investigation.

“It certainly paints a picture of the involvement of a second party in her disappearance,” Detective Senior Sergeant Sol Solomon said in an interview on Friday.

“There was no sign of any struggle or disturbance having occurred there.”

Ms Chetcuti is the mother of two teenagers, is well-known in the Whorouly and Wangaratta area.

She had moved from Melbourne to Whorouly with her husband, who she is now separated from, to run the pub about two decades ago. The pair were publicans for about five years before Ms Chetcuti began working for the City of Wangaratta.

Investigators urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.



 

Police question convicted rapist who was the last person to see missing mum-of-two Karen Chetcuti… after her burnt-out car was found in bushland

  • Wangaratta, VIC mother-of-two Karen Chetcuti was last seen on Tuesday
  • Police questioned her neighbour, convicted rapist Michael Cardamone
  • He was the last person to see the 49-year-old Wangaratta council manager
  • Ms Chetcuti’s car was found burnt out on Thursday 20km from her home
  • Homicide detectives believe she is the victim of foul play

A convicted rapist who claims he is the last person to see missing Karen Chetcuti has been questioned as police reveal they hold grave fears for the mother-of-two.

Michael Cardomone, who was released from jail in July 2015 after serving nine years for rape, denied any part in the disappearance of Ms Chetcuti, from Whorouly, Victoria.

His property was searched and he questioned by detectives about Ms Chetcuti, who was last seen on Tuesday at around 7.20pm.

Mr Cardomone said he had invited the City of Wangaratta manager to pick tomatoes about 9pm on Tuesday, The Age reported.

Convicted rapist Michael Cardomone claims he is the last person to have seen missing mother-of-two Karen Chetcuti (pictured) but denies he had anything to do with her disappearane

Ms Chetcuti was last seen on Tuesday evening, when she was captured on CCTV at a supermarket and attended a pub near her home. Convicted rapist Michael Cardomone also says he saw her later that night

Ms Chetcuti's burnt out car, where it was found near Myrtleford, VIC, about 20km from her home

The scene where Ms Chetcuti's car was found burnt out, near Myrtleford, 20km from Whorouly

Ms Chetcuti's burnt out car was found on Thursday morning

Police released this image of Ms Chetcuti car, as it appeared before it was burnt out

Homicide Squad detectives, the Missing Persons Squad, sniffer dogs and local SES members were searching bushland near where her car was found

Homicide Squad detectives, the Missing Persons Squad, sniffer dogs and local SES members were searching bushland near where her car was found

Earlier that evening, Ms Chetcuti left the Whorouly Hotel in Whorouly, south of Wangaratta, at around 7.30pm.

Mr Cardomone and another neighbour are both believed to have seen a white car leaving Ms Chetcuti’s property on Tuesday evening, with her red sedan following.

A concerned friend reported her missing on Wednesday after she did not turn up for work, and her car was found burnt out 20km away from Whorouly on Halls Road, Myrtleford on Thursday morning.

Police fear Ms Chetcuti may be a victim of foul play. They continued the search for her on Saturday morning

Ms Chetcuti, 49, is a mother to two teenagers and a manager at the City of Wanagaratta

Mr Cardomone said he saw her car parked in the town ‘sometime’ before it was torched, The Age reported.

‘That’s totally alarming to us – the vehicle being burnt in that fashion,’ Detective Sergeant Sol Solomon told 3AW on Friday.

‘(She) didn’t turn up for work on Wednesday, which is highly out of character for her.

‘She’s well known as being highly punctual, highly thought of and very efficient in her life.’

Homicide detectives suspect she was the victim of foul play.

‘I strongly suspect that there is someone, or some others involved,’ Detective Sergeant Sol Solomon told reporters on Friday.

‘I really hope she’s still alive, she could be still alive, but the longer it goes, the more grave the situation becomes,’ he said.

Det Sgt Solomon said what was found at Ms Chetcuti's home - lights on, her purse and handbag left behind, but no mobile phone to be found - was 'a situation that appeared out of order'

On the evening she was reported as last being seen, she went to the Whorouly Hotel

Ms Chetcuti left the hotel about 7.30pm on Tuesday evening. Her neighbour, convicted rapist Michael Cardomone, claims he saw her later that evening, about 9pm

CCTV footage of Ms Chetcuti at a supermarket at 5pm on Tuesday shows her wearing a cream or yellow tank top and a dark skirt.

Ms Chetcuti is 175cm tall, of a medium build, with dark brown shoulder-length hair.

Her two children, aged 14 and 15, are staying with their father, who is separated from their mother.

Police have been providing support to the family.

Det Sgt Solomon said there was no suggestion the father was involved in the disappearance.

Homicide Squad detectives, the Missing Persons Squad, sniffer dogs and local SES members were searching bushland near where her car was found, 50km from Wangaratta.

The search for Ms Chetcuti, who left her house with the lights on and bag and purse at home – but not her mobile phone – resumed at first light on Saturday.

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia Saturday’s search was focusing on Whorouly, Ms Chetcuti’s home town.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw Karen or her red 2004 Citroen Sara, registration XWC 149, any time after 7.20pm on Tuesday.

They also want to speak to anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area.

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia Saturday's search was focusing on Whorouly, Ms Chetcuti's home town

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia Saturday’s search was focusing on Whorouly, Ms Chetcuti’s home town

CCTV footage of Ms Chetcuti at a supermarket at 5pm on Tuesday shows her wearing a cream or yellow tank top and a dark skirt


https://au.news.yahoo.com/vic/a/30600196/body-of-missing-victorian-whorouly-woman-karen-chetcuti-has-been-found/

TIMELINE OF EVENTS:

  • Mother of two Karen Chetcuti is last seen leaving the Whorouly Hotel at 7.20pm on Tuesday
  • Ms Chetcuti is reported missing by a concerned friend at 9.30pm last Wednesday, and the search begins
  • Ms Chetcuti’s car is discovered burnt out 20 kilometres from her home, in Myrtleford, on Thursday morning
  • Neighbour Michael Cardamone says he was the last to see Ms Chetcuti, but denied any involvement in her disappearance.
  • Detectives visit Michael Cardamone’s home for questioning on Saturday, but he was not there
  • Police receive a report Michael Cardamone had been kidnapped on Saturday afternoon
  • Patrolling police find Michael Cardamone in a vehicle on Punt Road, St Kilda before 5am Sunday. He was pursued by the police Air Wing until he pulled over and arrested in Ringwood around 6am
  • Police search Michael Cardamone’s home on Sunday and declare the property a crime scene. Victoria Police divers in the Ovens River as part of the search
  • The body of Ms Chetcuti has been found at Lake Buffalo

Mexican “Safari” ends in murder for Aussies Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman


Missing Surfers

THE coastal Mexican region where the bodies of two men were found in a burnt-out van, likely to be identified as a pair of missing Australian surfers, has earned a reputation as the country’s murder capital.

Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman were travelling the picturesque coastline of northern Mexico in search of the kind of off-track surf beaches you wouldn’t find in a Lonely Planet guide.

Mr Lucas’s partner Josie Cox, who he had planned to propose to, said the men were a couple of “very keen and confident surfers” and “may have gone in search of waves in remote villages close by”.

It was on those remote roads they were driving overnight that it appears the pair ran into significant trouble.

The men were believed to be camping en route from Topolobampo to Guadalajara but, unusually, had not made contact with their girlfriends or family members for more than a week.

As Australian authorities communicated news of a “tragic event” to the families of Mr Lucas and Mr Coleman, reports emerged two bodies had been found in a torched vehicle appearing to have once matched the description of the blue and white camper they were driving.

Mexican authorities inspect a burnt-out van suspected to belong to a couple of Australian tourists missing for more than a week, in Sinaloa, Mexico. Picture: AP PhotoSource:AP

The WA friends were only about 25km from bustling modern cities and tourist attractions. Although most parts of Mexico are safe to visit when precautions are taken, away from the tourist cities and under cover of darkness are when many areas reveal how they’ve been touched by the country’s roaring underground drug trade and organised crime.

La Trobe University Institute of Latin American Studies senior fellow Dr Barry Carr says the two travelling surfers may be an extreme example of what can go wrong in the country.

“Parts of Mexico have a partly deserved reputation for being a dangerous place,” he tells news.com.au.

“If I was giving advice to friends of mine about driving, I would tell them two things: don’t drive at night and don’t, under any circumstances, get off the main highways. You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, classically, and it looks like that unfortunately may be the case for these young men.”

Dr Carr says that the picture of the burnt-out vehicle, while not a signature of any particular criminal group, was an extreme example of fairly common gang behaviour in many parts of rural Mexico.

“There is the so-called war on drugs in Mexico that has been raging since 2006. Around 102,000 have been killed and 32,000 have been disappeared. Disappeared people is a very common phenomenon — disappeared foreigners is less so but very unfortunately it does happen,” he said.

“These guys were outsiders, there is nothing to suggest that they were involved in anything illegal. They could have been lost, they could have been carrying valuables, they simply could have been picked up, robbed by some local thugs or could have fallen victim to some sort of stand-over tactic.”

Adam Coleman (pictured) had been on his way to meet up with his girlfriend in Guadalajara. Picture: FacebookSource:AAP

Rural kidnapping, robberies and theft not necessarily connected with the drug trade is a risk travellers take when going off-road in Mexico.

The state of Sinaloa, where Mr Coleman and Mr Lucas had travelled, has long been a notorious area for crime and is on the radars of international government authorities such as Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with warnings often in place.

Home to one of Mexico’s most significant international drug trafficking and organised crime syndicate, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Mexican state has both benefited and lost out from the distribution of cocaine and other drugs the organisation specialises in.

“There’s no secret there’s white powder behind a lot of the wealth in that state,” Dr Carr says.

One of the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, rose to international infamy pulling off an incredible escape from a Mexican prison in July.

The municipality of Navolato, about 25km west of the city of Culiacan, has been the site of countless murders and mafia activity in recent years.

Reports from local media detail burnt-out cars discarded on the streets of the notorious town, and brutal deaths likely associated with the drug trade, Dr Carr says.

Adam Coleman. Picture: FacebookSource :AAP

Dean Lucas. Picture: FacebookSource :Supplied

Although nothing has been confirmed of the identity of the bodies found in the van in Navolato, nor the whereabouts of the two missing men, those close to the men are fearing the worst.

Mr Coleman’s Mexican girlfriend, Andrea Gomez, told the Associated Press she and Mr Lucas’s partner, Josie Cox, will travel to the Sinaloan capital of Culiacan to see if the two bodies are the men.

“Everything points to it being them because the van matches; it had a bicycle,” Ms Gomez said.

She said that Ms Cox was bringing Mr Lucas’s dental records for matching and she had “pieces of dreadlocks” that Mr Coleman had given her.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to the families and issued a statement on their behalf on Sunday, saying they were aware the van had been found and a “tragic event” had occurred.

“The families hold deep fears for the safety of their sons, but stress that they are still waiting for details to be confirmed,” a statement from the department said.

An online fundraising campaign to support the families of the two men has received more than $22,000 in a matter of hours.

Fault Lines travels to the troubled Mexican state of Michoacan to find out what happens when vigilante groups take on powerful drug cartels.


Missing surfers: Families of Australians Adam Coleman, Dean Lucas head to Mexico amid reports unidentified bodies found in van

Updated about 5 hours ago

The families of two West Australian surfers missing in Mexico hold grave fears for their safety, amid reports two bodies were found in a burnt-out van similar to the one the men were travelling in.

Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman were travelling in a van towards Guadalajara, but failed to arrive at their destination by November 21 as planned.

A media outlet in Mexico said two bodies had been found in a burnt-out Chevrolet van matching the description of the one the men were travelling, but local police have not confirmed or denied if they are the Australians.

Mexican authorities will run DNA tests on the two charred bodies and the girlfriends of the men are helping with DNA testing, an official told Reuters.

The official from Sinaloa’s local prosecutor’s office said the bodies were too charred to identify.

A photo of the burnt van shows a bicycle on the back and a spare tyre, similar to the one the men took on their road trip. Local reporters have told the ABC food tins and cooking utensils were also found in the van.

“Nothing is confirmed, it’s just a similar van,” Dean Lucas’s girlfriend Josie Cox told the ABC.

“[It’s] most likely theirs but I’m keeping positive it’s not.”

The torched van was found in the state of Sinaloa — one of the most dangerous and violent places in Mexico, home to powerful gangs and drug cartels.

The US State Department has advised people not to travel there outside of one major city, and says travelling on anything other than major toll roads is especially dangerous.

The families of the two men said they were aware the van had been found and that a “tragic event” had occurred, but still did not know exactly what had happened.

“The families and partners are aware the van in which they were travelling has been located by Mexican authorities and that a tragic event has occurred,” the families said in a statement released by DFAT on Sunday.

“The families hold deep fears for the safety of their sons but stress that they are still waiting for details to be confirmed.”

Family and friends have paid tribute to the men on social media.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it “is providing consular assistance to families in Australia who are seeking to establish the welfare of other family members in Mexico.”

“Due to privacy reasons we will not be making further comment.”

From other news sites:

  • Yahoo!7 News: Burnt van fears for missing WA surfers in Mexico

  • Everything points to it being them’: Girlfriend of one of two Australian surfers missing in Mexico gives police a DREADLOCK of his hair to help identify the charred bodies in their firebombed van

    • Australian surfers Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman are missing in Mexico
    • The two men, both 33, were last seen Friday, November 20, buying a map
    • Their girlfriends hope to provide Mexican authorities with DNA samples
    • Mr Lucas’ girlfriend, Josie Cox, arrived in Mexico with his dental records
    • While Mr Coleman’s girlfriend, Andrea Gomez, has pieces of his dreadlocks
    • Mexican authorities located the van the two Australian men were driving
    • Local media outlets have reported the discovery of the burnt campervan 

    Mr Lucas’ girlfriend, Josie Cox, arrived in Mexico on Sunday before she revealed her boyfriend was planning to propose.

    Mr Coleman’s girlfriend, Andrea Gomez, said Ms Cox brought Mr Lucas’ dental records with her.

    Josie Cox, Dean Lucas's girlfriend, has flown to Mexico to try and help find him and Adam Coleman. She arrived on Sunday with his dental records

    Mr Coleman's girlfriend, Andrea Gomez (right with her boyfriend), has 'pieces of his dreadlocks' to help authorities identify if one of the bodies found in a burnt-out campervan found in Navolato belongs to her partner

    Mexican news outlets have reported finding a burnt Chevy on the side of a road with two bodies inside

    Along with ‘pieces of dreadlocks’ given to Ms Gomez by her partner, the pair hoped authorities would be able to confirm whether or not the bodies found were those of their loved ones.

    ‘Everything points to it being them because the van matches, it had a bicycle. But nothing is confirmed yet,’ Ms Gomez said.

    At first, Ms Gomez and Ms Cox had wanted to travel to the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan on Monday with the items for DNA testing, but now they would travel to Mexico City to make contact with the Australian Embassy.

    Mr Lucas and Mr Coleman, from Golden Bay – an outer southern suburb of Perth, were reported missing after they organised ‘solid plans and reservations’ to be in Guadalajara, Mexico by November 21, but failed to arrive.

    Mexican news outlets reported the discovery of a burnt caravan containing two bodies as the families of the two men were informed their vehicle had been found and a ‘tragic event [had] occurred’.

    Family are currently travelling to Mexico and Ms Cox revealed on Sunday night Mr Lucas was going to ask her to marry him.

    Dean Lucas (left) and Adam Coleman (right) from Western Australia went missing while driving through Mexico in a blue and white Chevy

    Ms Cox revealed that Mr Lucas had been planning to propose to her before he went missing

    Pictured is Mr Coleman with his girlfriend Andrea Gomez, who had been planning to meet with him soon

    The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed the van has been found in Mexico 

    Mexican authorities are yet to identify the bodies who were found in a destroyed Chevy in Navolato, one of the most dangerous areas in Mexico, about 10.30pm.

    Sinaloa, home of the powerful cartel led by fugitive drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, stretches down Mexico’s Pacific coast and would be on the route of most road trips to Guadalajara from western Canada.

    Ms Cox has taken to social media appealing for any information that may help find the Australian men who were last seen in the coastal town of Los Mochis, with a witness saying the pair were buying a map.

    The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a statement on the missing surfers confirming their van has been located in Mexico.

    Mr Lucas' girlfriend Josie Cox earlier posted on Facebook that their families were devastated to learn local authorities had officially classed the pair as missing. Pictured is Mr Coleman

    Ms Cox said the men had 'solid plans and reservations' to be at Guadalajara by November 21, but never arrived. Pictured is her boyfriend Mr Lucas

    Ms Cox said the men had ‘solid plans and reservations’ to be at Guadalajara by November 21, but never arrived. Pictured is her boyfriend Mr Lucas

    A social media campaign has been launched to find two West Australian surfers. Above is Mr Lucas (left)

    Adam Coleman pictured with his girlfriend, Josie Cox

     Ms Cox is pictured here with Mr Lucas during various travels the pair took together

    ‘Dean and Adam were travelling in a van, departing from Topolobampa on Friday 20 November to Guadalajara but did not arrive on their scheduled date,’ the statement said.

    ‘The families and partners are aware the van in which they were traveling has been located by Mexican authorities and that a tragic event has occurred.

    ‘The families hold deep fears for the safety of their sons but stress that they are still waiting for details to be confirmed.’

    The local media publications have also translated Ms Cox’s plea for help in to Spanish in a bid to help try and find the pair.

    ‘The last confirmed siting [sic] was disembarking the ferry from Cabo to Topolobampa on Friday 20th November at 10pm. They were supposed to drive to Guadalajara after this, and never arrived,’ Ms Cox wrote on Facebook.

    Mr Lucas has also booked flights to the U.K. from Los Angeles within three days but there is now doubt whether he will be catching the flight.

    Family members of the pair are heading to Mexico as they await confirmation 

    The pair had ‘solid plans and reservations’ to be in Guadalajara, Mexico but never arrived 

    ‘They are very keen and confident surfers from Australia and may have gone in search of waves in remote villages close by. We suspect they free camped somewhere on route from Topolobampo to Guadalajara overnight.,

    ‘Their family and I are devastated and would kindly urge that you share this as far as you can and on any relevant social media sites or pages to help us find our boys.’

    Ms Cox’s recent update on the search also suggested there is devastating news.

    ‘We’d like to update everyone to announce we have had some distressing developments which we have not yet had confirmed.

    They were last seen buying a map by a witness in the Mexican coastal city of Los Mochis

    The keen surfers from Golden Bay, an outer southern suburb of Perth have not made contact with their families for over a week

    The van has a distinct red door on the back with the registration plates BSN - 2713

    ‘We would appreciate any updates on information if you know anyone that has any, but ask that the Lucas and Coleman family have some privacy at this time,’ she wrote on Facebook.

    Another friend of the pair also posted images of the men on social media while also suggesting their phones were stolen.

    ‘They have been driving through Mexico in this van and it’s been reported that Adam’s phone is now being used by someone else.

    ‘He is usually in regular contact with his mother and girlfriend so this is very out of character for him,’ she wrote.

    A friend of the pair has suggested that Adam Coleman's phone is being used by another person

    Local media organisations have also released photos of the pair in a bid to find any information that may help 

    In two hours a fundraising page for the pair's family members has raised over $4,000

     In two hours a fundraising page for the pair’s family members has raised over $4,000

    A gofundme fundraising page has also been set up to raise money for family members to help them travel to Mexico and continue their search for the pair.

    In nine hours 129 people have donated to the fundraising page raising over $16,000.

    ‘We are currently raising funds to help support both families in getting over to Mexico and bringing Dean and Adam back home to WA safely. any contributions is greatly appreciated,’ wrote the organiser of the page.

    A social media campaign has also been launched to help find the pair with the public using #FindDeanandAdam to share images and news of the men.

    The last confirmed siting was disembarking the ferry from Cabo to Topolobampa on Friday 20th November at 10pm

    Social media is reposting images of the Australians in hopes of finding any information about their disappearance

    Social media is reposting images of the Australians in hopes of finding any information about their disappearance

    A close friend's recent Facebook post reveals the family has received 'distressing developments' and their families are awaiting confirmation

    A close friend’s recent Facebook post reveals the family has received ‘distressing developments’ and their families are awaiting confirmation

Former top Vic Lib Damien Mantach charged over $1.5m taken from party


 Updated 18/11/15 2.30pm

Not the first time either…. he had a go at making some extra bucks in the apple isle of Tassie too a while back and was moved on…mmm just like those priests who have rumours made about them tongue in cheek)

Former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach.

Former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach.

Former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach has been charged with 44 counts of obtaining financial advantage totalling about $1.5 million.

In August, Mantach was accused of embezzling election campaign funds, with the money alleged to have vanished over four years to fund his lifestyle.

An audit of the party’s finances after last year’s state election loss uncovered unauthorised financial transactions, with money missing from both state and federal campaign funds.

Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad were called in to investigate.

Police said a 42-year-old man from Ocean Grove is to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court this afternoon.


Victoria Police investigate Liberal Party state director over embezzlement claims worth $1.5m

Updated 20 Aug 2015, 7:27pm

The police fraud squad is investigating allegations former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach embezzled around $1.5 million of election campaign funds.

The money is alleged to have vanished over four years to fund Mr Mantach’s lifestyle.

An audit of the party’s finances after last year’s state election loss uncovered unauthorised financial transactions linked to Mr Mantach, with money missing from both state and federal campaign funds.

The Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad has been called in to investigate.

Liberal Party president Michael Kroger said Mr Mantach had admitted to wrongdoing.

“We feel profoundly betrayed and terribly disappointed with what’s happened,” Mr Kroger said.

Key points:

  • Liberal Party accuses former state director of embezzling $1.5m
  • Alleged theft happened over four years
  • Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad called in to investigate
  • Party believes Mantach took the money to fund his lifestyle

He said the party believed Mr Mantach had acted alone.

“We’re not aware that anyone at the party head office or any officials had any involvement at all,” he said.

It also emerged that Mr Mantach repaid tens of thousands of dollars during his time as state director of the Tasmanian branch.

In a letter to members posted on Facebook, Tasmanian Liberal president Geoff Page said in March 2008 that when he left the role, Mr Mantach fully repaid a liability of nearly $48,000 for personal expenses.

Mr Page said the division considered the matter closed and had robust internal financial processes.

Mr Kroger said he did not believe the missing money influenced the 2014 election result, or that it would affect the next federal election.

Liberal leader Matthew Guy said the party was furious at what he called a “pretty basic effort at embezzlement”.

“We want our money back,” he said.

“We want this matter sent to the police and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that justice is done.

“I saw someone making a comment that we’re white hot with anger, that’s just the start of it.”

Mr Kroger said the missing money was confined to the party’s Victorian division and he was confident some of it could be recovered through assets bought with the funds.

Mr Kroger conceded the Liberal Party had failed to properly monitor spending.

“Obviously it should have been picked up years ago — it wasn’t,” he said.

Former premier Denis Napthine, who led the party during last year’s campaign, said he was surprised and bitterly disappointed by the allegations.

The party’s administrative committee met this morning to discuss how to deal with the missing money.

Mr Mantach has been contacted for comment.


 

Paris attacks: Scenes of devastation in the French capital


It is wake up time people. Have the media laws kept you just that little bit away from the slaughter, the suicide bombings and massacre of innocent folks going about their day?
WELL… BE WARNED I AM POSTING AN EXTREMELY DISTURBING IMAGE OF THE CONCERT HALL BECAUSE I CAN! I hope the BEST bands in the WORLD have the guts to play in this hall and not for rich celeb types either. Maybe the orphans and widows etc???
HOW ABOUT A QUICK COFFEE AND CAKE? see that a bit further down…THE AMAZING thing is folks are queuing up to have a coffee there since it happened.
FRANCE ONE DAY YOUR PLACE NEXT. GOING TO LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC AND CHILL OUT FROM THE CRAZY WORLD AROUND THEM. THIS IS HOW THE ENDED UP AFTER GOING TO SEE Eagles of Death Metal  (Who need support from every corner of the world)
Dying to see a band

Dying to see a band

+ Add New Category

La Belle Equipe

La Belle Equipe

Related Story: As it happened: At least 120 people killed in multiple Paris attacks

Related Story: Coordinated terror attacks leave France in shock
Related Story: Information for paris bombing map

About 120 people have been killed in multiple terrorist attacks in the French capital, including about 100 who were taken hostage at a rock concert, according to Paris city officials.

Here is a collection of images and footage from Paris as the situation unfolds.

Paris attacks: Weapons seized during pre-dawn raids, French PM warns more attacks being planned

French police seized “an arsenal” of weapons during dozens of pre-dawn raids against Islamist suspects in the early hours of Monday (local time), as prime minister Manuel Valls warned terrorists were planning more attacks in the wake of Friday night’s atrocities in Paris.

The raids focused particularly on the Lyon area, where police made five arrests and seized a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, bulletproof vests and handguns.

Mr Valls said authorities have conducted at least 150 house searches in cities around France since the attacks.

Earlier reports had said pre-dawn police operations were carried out in the Paris suburb of Bobigny as well as in Jeumont, close to the French border with Belgium, and in the southern city of Toulouse.

Thirteen raids were carried out around the south-eastern French city of Lyon, a local police source said.

They led to five arrests and the seizure of “an arsenal of weapons”, including a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, bulletproof vests, handguns and combat gear, the source said.

French media have reported at least six people were arrested in another raid in the Alpine city of Grenoble.

Mr Valls said terrorism could hit again in “in days or weeks to come” and said the attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people, were “planned in Syria”.

He said French intelligence services had prevented several attacks since the summer and police knew other attacks were being prepared in France as well as in the rest of Europe.

“We are making use of the legal framework of the state of emergency to question people who are part of the radical jihadist movement … and all those who advocate hate of the republic,” he said.

“We know that operations were being prepared and are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries too.”

On Sunday night (local time) French jets launched extensive air strikes on what the government in Paris said were Islamic State targets in the terrorist movement’s stronghold Raqqa.

Prosecutors earlier revealed a growing Belgian connection to the Paris attacks, with officials conceding a poor district in Brussels with past links to international terrorism is a “gigantic problem” and a hotbed for extremism.

A manhunt is also underway for Salah Abdeslam, a Belgium-born man identified as the only surviving terrorist from the attacks.

Seven UK terror attacks ‘stopped’ in last six months: Cameron

British prime minister David Cameron said UK security services had foiled about seven terror attacks since June.

“Our security and intelligence services have stopped something like seven attacks in the last six months, albeit attacks planned on a smaller scale [than Paris attacks],” he told BBC Radio 4.

“We have been aware of these cells operating in Syria that are radicalising people in our own countries, potentially sending people back to carry out attacks.

“It was the sort of thing we were warned about.”

In response to the Paris attacks, Mr Cameron said he wanted Britain to join the fight in Syria to carry out air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants.

He will still need to convince more lawmakers to launch any action and will take a proposal to MPs soon.

Mr Cameron said Britain was engaged in a “generational struggle” against extremism and that he has boosted funding for security services in direct response to the threat posed by IS.

He also said there were “hopeful signs” from Saturday’s talks in Vienna on Syria that progress was being made on how to deal with the IS.

“You can’t deal with so-called Islamic State unless you get a political settlement in Syria that enables you then to permanently degrade and destroy that organisation,” he said.

ABC/wires


Paris attacks: What we know so far

A series of coordinated terrorist attacks ripped through Paris shortly after 9pm on Friday November 13. Here is what we know so far.

What we know about the attacks

What we know about the attackers

  • At least eight attackers were involved, operating in three separate groups.
  • Seven of them died, including six who detonated vests laden with explosives.
  • An international manhunt is underway for Belgian-born Salah Abdeslam, who is believed to be the eighth attacker.
    • Abdeslam, 26, was questioned and released near the Belgian border soon after the attacks.
    • One of his brothers, Ibrahim Abdeslam, was involved in the attacks; he died after detonating his suicide vest on Boulevard Voltaire.
    • Another brother, Mohamed Abdeslam, was arrested in Brussels.
  • Another attacker was named as Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, who was identified from a severed finger at the Bataclan concert hall.
  • Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in response to insults of Islam’s prophet and air strikes in IS territory.

What we know about the investigation

What we know about France’s response

  • French president Francois Hollande told the French people “we are going to fight and our fight will be merciless”.
  • France launched air strikes against IS militants in Syria.

    bbc.com

    Paris attacks: Bataclan and other assaults leave many dead – BBC News

     People could be seen escaping from the Bataclan concert hall shortly after a series of explosions

    France has declared a national state of emergency and tightened borders after at least 128 people were killed in a night of gun and bomb attacks in Paris.

    Eighty people were reported killed after gunmen burst into the Bataclan concert hall and took hostages before security forces stormed the hall.

    People were shot dead at restaurants and bars at five other sites in Paris. At least 180 people were injured.

    These are the deadliest attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.

    French President Francois Hollande, visibly shaken, called Friday night’s almost simultaneous attacks “a horror” and vowed to wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism.

    Paris saw three days of attacks in early January, when Islamist gunmen murdered 18 people after attacking satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman on patrol.

    Live: Follow the latest developments here

    In pictures: Paris shootings

    Eyewitness accounts from the scene

    The attack on the 1,500-seat Bataclan hall was by far the deadliest of Friday night’s attacks. Gunmen opened fire on concert-goers watching US rock group Eagles of Death Metal. The event had been sold out.

    “At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood,” Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, told Agence France Presse.

    Speaking outside the Bataclan concert hall President Hollande said the attacks were “an abomination and a barbaric act”

    “They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.”

    He said the gunmen took 20 hostages, and he heard one of them tell their captives: “It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria”.

    Within an hour, security forces had stormed the concert hall and all four attackers there were dead. Three had blown themselves up and a fourth was shot dead by police.


    Attack sites:

    La Belle Equipe, 92 rue de Charonne, 11th district – at least 19 dead in gun attacks

    Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant at rue Alibert, 10th district – at least 12 dead in gun attacks

    La Casa Nostra restaurant, 92 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 11th district – at least 5 dead in gun attacks

    Stade de France, St Denis, just north of Paris – explosions heard outside venue, three attackers dead

    Bataclan concert venue, 50 boulevard Voltaire, 11th district – stormed by several gunmen, at least 80 dead

    map of attack sites

    The attacks took place at six sites across Paris, mainly in the centre of the city

    What we know

    #Paris: Power, horror, and lies


    Meanwhile, not far from the Place de la Republique and the Place de la Bastille, three busy restaurants and a bar were targeted by gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs.

    Around 40 people were killed as customers were singled out at venues including a pizza restaurant and a Cambodian restaurant, Le Petit Cambodge.

    “We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” Pierre Montfort, a resident living close to Le Petit Cambodge said.

    Media captionAmateur footage captured the panic at the Stade de France in Paris, following a reported suicide blast

    The other target was the Stade de France, on the northern fringe of Paris, where President Hollande and 80,000 other spectators were watching a friendly international between France and Germany, with a TV audience of millions more.

    The president was whisked to safety after the first of at least two explosions just outside the venue to convene an emergency cabinet meeting. Three attackers were reportedly killed there.

    As the extent of the bloodshed became clear, Mr Hollande went on national TV to announce a state of emergency for the first time in France since 2005. The decree enables the authorities to close public places and impose curfews and restrictions on the movement of traffic and people.

     Ben Grant: “There were a lot of dead people… it was horrific”

    Paris residents have been asked to stay indoors and about 1,500 military personnel are being deployed across the city.

    All schools, museums, libraries, gyms, swimming pools and markets will be shut on Saturday as well as Disneyland Paris. All sporting fixtures in the affected area of Paris have also been cancelled, AFP reports.

    Police believe all of the gunmen are dead – seven killed themselves with explosives vests and one was shot dead by the security forces – but it is unclear if any accomplices are still on the run.

    US President Barack Obama spoke of “an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians”.

    UK PM David Cameron said he was shocked and pledged to do “whatever we can to help”.

    The Vatican called it “an attack on peace for all humanity” and said “a decisive, supportive response” was needed “on the part of all of us as we counter the spread of homicidal hatred in all its forms”.

    Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany  

    Spectators flooded the pitch of the Stade de France after the France v Germany football match as news of the attacks spread
    Rescuers evacuate people following an attack in the 10th arrondissement of the French capital Paris  

    Rescuers evacuate people following one of the attacks
    General view of the scene with rescue service personnel  

    Witnesses have been speaking of “carnage”

    Analysis: BBC’s Europe correspondent Damian Grammaticas

    It’s just 10 months since Paris was the scene of multiple terrorist attacks, first the massacre of staff at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and then a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket.

    What happened in Paris on Friday night is exactly what Europe’s security services have long feared, and tried to foil. Simultaneous, rolling attacks, with automatic weapons and suicide bombers in the heart of a major European city, targeting multiple, crowded public locations.

    The tactics have been used before, in Mumbai and elsewhere. But how they’ve come to Europe is one of many questions that will have to be answered.

    Were the attackers French citizens? If so, how they were radicalised, armed and organised – was it in France, in Syria, and by whom? Why weren’t they detected? Is France, after two major attacks this year, uniquely vulnerable or does the carnage in Paris mean all of Europe faces new threats to our public places and events? And if a Syrian link is proven, will France recoil from that conflict or will it redouble its commitment to the fight against radical groups there?


    Are you in the area? Have you been affected by what has been happening? Do you have any information you can share? If it is safe to do so, you can get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

    Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

    • WhatsApp: +44 7525 900971
    • Send pictures/video to yourpics@bbc.co.uk
    • Upload your pictures / video here
    • Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
    • Send an SMS or MMS to +44 7624 800 100

      Paris attackers most likely backed and trained by Islamic State in Iraq or Syria, says security expert

      Posted about an hour ago

      A security expert says it is “extremely unlikely” that the eight men who carried out the Paris attacks could have done so without military training in Iraq or Syria.

      The latest reports out of France suggest there were three teams involved in the weekend’s attacks that left 129 people dead.

      Neil Fergus, the chief executive of the security consultancy Intelligent Risk Group, said it appeared the terrorists had a significant support team.

      “There’s no doubt that they… certainly had accomplices that had done reconnoitring of those sites, and that means they had logisticians, transport people, they undoubtedly had a safe house, or indeed, multiple safe houses, people who procured the motor vehicles,” he said.

      “They had to have transported weapons, not just side-arms of course.

      “We know that they had Kalashnikovs, AK-47 long-arms, explosives, TATP explosives themselves have to be transported carefully and of course they were constructed into suicide vests or belts either before being sent to France, or Belgium and then to France, or in France.”

      Mr Fergus is certain the terrorists were trained by Islamic State in the Middle East, either in Iraq or Syria.

      “There have been improvised training camps in France that the French authorities have detected before, but this type of operation, these types of activities in which these eight perpetrators were involved evidence a great deal more sophistication in terms of training and experience,” he said.

      “For example we have eyewitness accounts of the way that they went about their evil business in the theatre, with one person providing very professional cover of the main assailant as he systematically executed people in that theatre.”

      He said the type of operation suggested a great deal of sophistication in terms of training and experience.

      What modus operandi was used to be able to plan and execute this operation in this way? It has implications for (Australia), and we need to study it carefully.

      Neil Fergus, chief executive of the Intelligent Risk Group

      “It’s not ad hoc training in a forest firing at some targets.

      “That’s people who have gone through proper military training, and indeed, as I said before, almost certainly, to do that sort of callous cold-blooded operation, they have been blooded in the fields of Syria or northern Iraq.”

      Mr Fergus said it was impossible to be certain, but knowing the very hierarchical, compartmentalised structure of IS, the operation was almost certainly authorised by Islamic State’s senior leadership group in the Middle East.

      “It would be almost inconceivable to think that a local cell would be able to gather all of the resources and capabilities, some of which are clearly from offshore, outside of France, to put this together,” he said.

      Security lessons for Australia

      Mr Fergus said the attack’s success pointed to a failure of intelligence in France.

      “What is incredible is that an attack, or a set of attacks of this nature and this complexity, were planned and executed without intelligence services in the region, or indeed in Europe, getting apparently any inkling, any indication that such a scale of operation would be in prospect,” he said.

      “The more people that are involved in an operation, the more likely that intelligence services will detect something is afoot.”

      Mr Fergus said there were security lessons Australia can learn from the attack.

      “I have no doubt that the senior security authorities in Australia, including Duncan Lewis, director-general of ASIO, will be keenly looking to French liaisons to understand their post-event analyses, particularly on whether there had been intelligence that had been missed, or indeed whether the perpetrators have exercised a heightened level of security to such an extent that they did slip under the radar.

      “And that has some implications not just for Australia but for the rest of the civilised world.

      “What modus operandi was used to be able to plan and execute this operation in this way?

      “It has implications for us, and we need to study it carefully.”

      Topics: terrorism, unrest-conflict-and-war, security-intelligence, defence-and-national-security, france, syrian-arab-republic, iraq

What happened to $34 million from Aboriginal fund on Groote Eylandt?


A matter of trust…

05/11/2015

It was millions of dollars in mining royalties that was meant to be spent for the benefit of the Groote Eylandt community.

Instead, tens of millions were spent on 156 cars and boats, fridges, a barge, gambling at the casino and charter flights.

The latest chapter in the extraordinary saga played out in the Darwin Supreme Court on Monday.

The former public officer of Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust (GEAT), Rosalie Lalara, had earlier pleaded guilty to misappropriating almost $500,000.

Her bail was revoked and she is now behind bars awaiting sentencing.

A total of $34 million disappeared from the GEAT coffers between 2010 and 2012, leaving just $400,000 remaining in the account.

While Lalara has pleaded guilty to a fraction of the missing millions, exactly what happened to the rest remains a mystery.

But those involved in the case said little of it appeared to have been spent on housing, education or the needs of the community.

Jacqueline Lahne was brought in as the interim operations manager at GEAT when the trust was put into administration in 2012.

“My initial impression was that there was a group of people [on Groote Eylandt] who were literally living like rock stars,” she said in an interview with the ABC.

Chartered planes, vehicles waiting for them at airports, they owned multiple vehicles and boats themselves. They had access endlessly to cash for their lifestyles and then for their families.

Groote Eylandt, a remote island off Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, regularly appears at the top of the Northern Territory’s richest postcodes.

It earns millions each year in royalties from the nearby South32 manganese mine.

Since its inception in the early 1960s, the trust has earned more than $200 million in royalties.

Lalara told the ABC she is not responsible for all the money that went missing.

“They accuse me of being a thief and I don’t steal,” Lalara said in an interview with the ABC.

Lalara was the community’s go-to person on the trust and said not everyone was happy with the trust’s rules on how royalty money should be spent.

“They say, ‘Oh, it’s our money, you should spend this money on us. Why you keeping the money, what for? It shouldn’t be up there in the bank, it should be down here spent’,” she said.

Court documents in a separate case allege Lalara was involved in the purchase of 156 cars and boats at a total cost of $5 million.

A barge and real estate in Cairns were also bought with trust money.

The documents alleged cash cheques to a total value of $3.5 million were written from the trust account and fraudulently recorded against funeral costs.

Millions remain unaccounted for due to poor record keeping

In court documents in civil proceedings against Darwin’s Skycity casino, it is alleged Lalara gambled more than $1 million of trust money.

“If I had a million dollars would I be gambling it? No, thank you. That is all bad,” she said.

“We went and bought a whole heap of stuff … maybe fridges, washing machines, even air conditioners, yeah, beddings, beds, mattresses, yep.”

But what exactly has happened to the remaining $33 million is unclear.

Ms Lahne said that many millions remain unaccounted for because GEAT kept poor records.

She believes non-Indigenous businesses who preyed on the trust received a large percentage of the missing millions.

“I guess we’d call them carpetbaggers wouldn’t we?” she said.

“They’re people, or sharks, that prey on vulnerable populations.

“They find that organisations are limited in their governance structures and capacity, they work their way in there.”

Court documents alleged one operator who did business with the trust regularly charged 30 per cent commission to the trust.

“Vehicles that had been purchased by the trust weeks before for perhaps $35,000, were sold on for $5,000 or $10,000 in cash,” Ms Lahne said.

“So the trust automatically lost a portion of cash and the vehicle disappeared, plates were destroyed, it’s gone.”

Purchase of cars for teens triggered ‘distrust’

Not all of the community were benefiting from the largesse.

It was the purchase of cars for kids barely in their teens that caused the community outrage and made them act.

“Thirteen-year-old girls getting bought a car and 15-year-old boys getting a boat,” said Keith Hansen, who has lived on the island for 25 years and is married to a local beneficiary.

“That’s when the distrust really came into place, when they were buying for a birthday for a 13-year-old girl a flash Ford Falcon sedan.”

Groote Eylandters told the ABC that 300 locals confronted Lalara about the trust’s finances on the oval in the town of Anuragu in early 2012.

Punches were thrown, the police were called and there were multiple arrests.

On March 12, 2012 more than 500 locals signed a petition which was sent to the Northern Territory Attorney-General, saying “many millions of dollars have been wasted and corruption is rife … no-one is game to do anything for fear of retribution”.

The Government stepped in and a statutory manager was appointed.

Ms Lahne worked alongside the statutory manager and said she was “shocked” when she arrived on Groote Eylandt.

“I would have expected with all the years of royalties going into that island to see more supporting infrastructure, better local health services, better support agencies that the trust might be investing in but there was no evidence of that,” she said.

But Lalara said she was put under great cultural pressure by beneficiaries to keep buying things for them with money from the trust.

“I reckon I was stuck with the two worlds. White-man world, white-man way and blackfella way. And what I was trying to do was to do it our way, and it’s not written in the book,” she said.

“We try to balance the both sides so it doesn’t how you say … ruin things. But it obviously ruined [things].”

Lalara is angry that the community has not defended her since charges were laid against her in 2013.

“The community is the fault and I say they are gutless and they are coward and it’s their fault all this happened,” she said.

“Now everybody’s … happy sitting behind their cars and steering wheels and that they don’t even want to help [me].”

Auditors under the microscope

In a separate case, three international companies employed to give financial and legal advice to GEAT’s trustees are now being sued.

In a civil case in the Darwin Supreme Court, GEAT is alleging KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Minter Ellison failed to detect numerous “irregularities” in the trust’s operation in the 18 months that $34 million was spent.

Trust lawyers claim if the firms had performed their duties diligently they could have prevented tens of millions of dollars being misspent.

“The flag could have been raised years ago,” Ms Lahne said.

The ABC approached KPMG, Deloitte and Minter Ellison, which have combined to fight the civil claims against them. They all declined to comment.

Despite $200 million being paid in royalties to the trust over the past 50 years, Ms Lahne said there was little evidence on the island of the wealth received by the 1,800 Aboriginal beneficiaries of GEAT.

“I think they are a very strong community, they’re on their land, they’re on country and they’re really quite traditional in my experience,” Ms Lahne said.

“I think the lost opportunity is incalculable. I think generations to come will look back … and say ‘look what we could have had’ you know from that money, had it been invested properly.”

It was high drama in the Darwin Supreme Court earlier this week when Lalara sacked her lawyer and handed in an unsigned document that claimed judges appointed in Australia after 1901 did not have valid legal powers, and therefore no judge had the standing to decide her case.

Lalara’s bail was revoked and she is now in custody. Her next court appearance is set down for December 21.

 

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