‘Thrill killer’ Thomas Hemming sentenced over Melbourne double murder


Judge considers media request for police interview with ‘thrill killer’ Thomas Hemming

Mon 12 Jan 2015, 3:40pm

A taped police interview with a man who stabbed a Melbourne couple to death last year is “not entertainment”, according to a Supreme Court judge considering a media request for access to the vision.

“Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of schoolchildren were traumatised by the murder of teacher Cheryl Adamson and her husband Robert, Justice Betty King said.

Ms Adamson, a librarian at Melbourne Grammar’s primary school, and her accountant husband were killed in their Murrumbeena home in Melbourne’s south-east last year by 21-year-old Thomas Hemming.

The double murder was described as a “thrill kill”, with Hemming telling police he had “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone” for several months.

Hemming lived in the same neighbourhood as the Adamsons, both aged in their 60s, and the court heard he chose the couple on a whim because he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

He was sentenced last year to 32 years in prison with a minimum term of 27 years

While handing down the decision, Justice King described his crimes as “savage, horrific and motiveless”.

“There is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general,” Justice King told Hemming.

She described Hemming’s prospects of rehabilitation as “exceedingly poor”.

Justice King was back in court on Monday to assess a media application from the A Current Affair and Sunday Night television programs for access to vision of Hemming’s police interview.

She questioned the timing of the request and said it was important to consider how many children had been affected by the murders.

“I’ve been approached by people I know, due to the fact they had children at the school where the deceased taught,” Justice King said.

“They say they’re so glad it (the case) is done and finished, because of the ongoing trauma of all those children.

“They were so traumatised… it upset the entire Year 12.

“This is not entertainment… this is really serious.

“It’s a very important and relevant consideration in this case… because the position occupied by the deceased teacher involves hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children.”

Justice King said she did not believe new coverage would be able to shed new light on the case.

“It’s inexplicable… really you can’t explain,” she said.

Hemming’s parents and siblings were in court to hear the application.

Justice King has reserved her decision.


 

Thrill killer‘ Thomas Hemming sentenced over Melbourne double murder

Updated 24 Oct 2014, 7:23pmFri 24 Oct 2014, 7:23pm

A 21-year-old man who stabbed a Melbourne couple for a thrill will spend 32 years in jail, with a minimum term of 27 years.

Thomas Hemming pleaded guilty to stabbing Robert and Cheryl Adamson to death in their home in Murrumbeena in February, in what prosecutors described as a “thrill kill”.

The court had previously heard Hemming “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone”, a fantasy he had for several months leading up to the killings.

The court heard he chose the Adamsons on a whim because he knew an elderly couple lived at the home, and he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

Hemming has admitted knocking on the couple’s door at 6:00am on February 19 after a night of drinking and asking them if he could use their telephone.

When Mr and Mrs Adamson let him in, Hemming set upon them with a knife he had ordered off the internet.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

There is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general.

Justice Betty King

In sentencing, Justice Betty King said his crimes were “horrific” and “motiveless”.

She called it a “savage attack” on two decent, caring and helpful people that sent a “shudder of fear” throughout the community.

“The Adamsons suspected nothing and were behaving as good, decent caring neighbours,” she said.

“The circumstances of your offending are entirely inexplicable and incomprehensible to anyone involved in this matter and accordingly as a result are totally unnerving to every member of the community in which we live.”

Justice King said Hemming had “exceedingly poor prospects of rehabilitation”.

“You have pleaded guilty to these offences and you know what you did was wrong,” she said.

“But there is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again, as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general.”

During the trial, Hemming’s lawyer Damian Sheales, told the court his client had shown no empathy for his actions nor provided any detail about why he had carried out the killings, calling it “the most fathomless case I’ve come across”.

Hemming has Asperger’s syndrome, which was discussed during the trial as a possible cause for the attack, but his psychiatrist told the court people with Asperger’s were more likely to be vulnerable victims in the community than perpetrators.


 Melbourne couple murdered in ‘thrill kill’, attacker Thomas Hemming wanted to know what killing was like, court hears

Updated 14 Oct 2014, 1:14am

The man who randomly stabbed a Melbourne couple to death wanted to know what it was like to kill someone and had fantasies about it, a court has heard.

Thomas Hemming pleaded guilty to stabbing Robert and Cheryl Adamson to death in their home in Murrumbeena in February, in what prosecutors described as a “thrill kill”.

At Monday’s plea hearing, the court heard Hemming “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone”; a fantasy he had for several months leading up to the killings.

The court heard he chose the Adamsons on a whim because he knew an elderly couple lived at the home, and he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

Hemming has admitted knocking on the couple’s door at 6:00am on February 19 after a night of drinking and asking them if he could use their telephone.

When Mr and Mrs Adamson let him in, Hemming set upon them with a knife he had ordered off the internet.

The knife was found at the scene and Hemming was later found with blood on his clothes.

A terrifying sociopath with no feeling: Justice King

Hemming’s lawyer Damian Sheales, and his treating prison psychiatrist, told the court their client had shown no empathy for his actions, or provided any detail about why he had carried out the killings.

They also acknowledged there was no evidence he would not act similarly again in the event he was released.

“It’s the most fathomless case I’ve come across in all circumstances,” Mr Sheales said.

“As you can imagine, his own family are shattered.”

Justice Betty King described Hemming as “terrifying to us, terrifying to the community”.

“What is going on?” she said.

“He’s a sociopath … there’s no feeling, no empathy, no care … it’s truly terrifying.

“There’s nothing to indicate in any way that he’s not going to remain a danger.”

Hemming has Asperger’s syndrome, which was discussed as a possible cause for the attack, but his psychiatrist told the court people with Asperger’s were more likely to be vulnerable victims in the community than perpetrators.

Hemming showed no emotion as details of the case were read out.

He will be sentenced at a later date.


 

Thomas Hemming killed Robert and Cheryl Adamson in Murrumbeena home for the ‘thrill’, court hears

Date
October 13, 2014

Court Reporter for The Age

View more articles from Mark Russell

Thomas Hemming.
Thomas Hemming. Photo: Jason South

A Supreme Court judge has described as “terrifying” the case of a young man who had been thinking about killing someone for months before stabbing to death a much-loved couple in their Murrumbeena home.

“I have to say what’s going on?” Justice Betty King said on Monday during a pre-sentence hearing for Thomas Hemming, 21, who pleaded guilty to murdering Robert Adamson, 64, and his wife, Cheryl, 60, on February 19.

The judge said the case was the second “thrill kill” murder she had had to deal with in less than a year and looking at Hemming’s behaviour, she had to ask if he was a sociopath.

Hemming had tragically told his mother months earlier how he was preoccupied with killing someone and she had organised for him to see a psychologist but he cancelled the appointment.

The other ‘thrill kill’ case involved loner Gareth Giles who wrote an 18 point step-by-step plan on his computer on how to commit the perfect murder before he tied up and strangled a man near Geelong. Giles was jailed by Justice King for 26 years in April.

Chief Crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert, QC, told the court Hemming did not know the Adamsons, who had two children, Michael and Katie, when he decided to kill them, believing it was better to murder someone older.

Mr Silbert said Hemming,who worked in the Woolworths bottle shop at Carnegie, was living at home with his parents when he had a friend over on the night of February 18.

The pair were drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels whisky and listening to music before Hemming began to feel sick and vomited.

Hemming and his friend then went for a walk around the neighbourhood some time between 1am and 3am.

Mr Silbert said Hemming’s friend drove home at about 4am and Hemming went back to his house before deciding to act out his fantasy of killing someone.

Hemming, who lived only 160 metres from the Adamsons’ house in Omama Road, had ordered a Cold Steel Marauder knife from a Queensland company online in October 2013.

Wearing black leather gloves and a black leather coat, Hemming took the knife and walked to the Adamsons’ home where he knocked on the door at about 6am and asked to use the phone.

Mr Silbert said the Adamsons, who were both wearing pyjamas, invited Hemming inside in the spirit of being good neighbours.

Hemming followed the couple down the hall before attacking Mr Adamson, an accountant, in the living room area, stabbing him repeatedly.

Mrs Adamson, a librarian at Melbourne Grammar School, hit Hemming over the head with a broom trying to save her husband of 33 years.

The prosecutor said Hemming then stabbed Mrs Adamson in the neck, chest and back before walking home and hiding his bloodied clothes under his bed.

Mrs Adamson’s brother, Craig Collier, in a victim impact statement read to the court, said he could not fathom what was going through his sister’s mind as she tried to stop Hemming from attacking her husband.

“Life will never be the same for any of us,” Mr Collier, who lives in Washington, said.

“My sister was more loved than anyone I know.”

Mr Collier asked: would Hemming having the same desire to kill again if he was ever released?

He had been unable to tell his 86-year-old mother that his sister had been murdered, instead telling her that the Adamsons had died in a car accident.

Defence barrister Damian Sheales told the court one of the most troubling aspects of the case was the senseless nature of it.

Mr Sheales said Hemming had the autism spectrum disorder Asperger syndrome but it did not explain his offending.

Psychiatrist Dr Daniel Sullivan said people with Asperger syndrome were usually more likely to be victims of violence and more vulnerable in the community.

Justice King said Hemming killed the Adamsons and took steps to try to avoid being caught which showed he was aware what he had done was wrong.

Hemming will be sentenced at a later date.


Gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed in Paris grocery store siege


Charlie Hebdo attack: gunmen killed after police storm hide-out January 10, 2015 3:47PM

  • Kouachi brothers shot dead in overnight siege
  • Gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed in Paris grocery store siege
  • Four Paris grocery store hostages declared dead
  • Third siege at a jewellery store in south of France underway, police say not related to Charlie Hebdo massacre
  • Female terror suspect still at large

SEVEN people have been killed in two sieges across France overnight, including the two brothers accused of slaying 12 people at a Paris newspaper, another gunman and four innocent captives.

The two groups of terrorists had seized hostages at separate locations around the French capital on Friday, facing off against thousands of French security forces as the city shut down a famed Jewish neighbourhood and scrambled to protect residents and tourists from further attacks.

HOSTAGE: ‘I was spared for being a woman’

CHARB’S GIRLFRIEND: ‘I knew he would be assassinated’

The moment police move in

Moving in … The moment police storm into the Kosher supermarket. Picture: France 2 Source: Supplied

Risky operation ... Police rush to get the rescued hostages to safety. Picture: Snapper M

Risky operation … Police rush to get the rescued hostages to safety. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

A female terror suspect, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, remains at large as authorities scramble to end the three days of terror that have gripped France.

Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of slain gunman Coulibaly, is believed to have fled during the supermarket siege which saw four hostages killed.

A third siege, which saw two people held hostage at a jewellery store in Montpellier, south of France has now ended after the man holding them surrended to police.

RT News reports that the two hostages have not been harmed and that Montpellier prosecutor, Christophe Barret, said there was no attempted robbery and stressed that the situation in Montpellier was not connected to the earlier events in Paris and in Northern France.

Free ... French police special forces evacuate the hostages after launching the assault a

Free … French police special forces evacuate the hostages after launching the assault at a kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

Enferno ... Members of the French police special forces launch an assault at a kosher gro

Enferno … Members of the French police special forces launch an assault at a kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

al-Qaeda Yemen claims responsibility for Paris magazine attack

Meanwhile, a member of the al-Qaeda Yemen branch- speaking on the condition of anonymity — has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.

He told The Associated Press that the massacre was carried out as “revenge for the honour” of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

TIMELINE OF TERROR: France rocked by three days of terrorism

The terrorist organisation has also released a chilling new warning for France, threatening the nation with fresh attacks.

“It is better for you to stop your aggression against the Muslims, so perhaps you will live safely. If you refuse but to wage war, then wait for the glad tiding,” sharia official leader Harith al-Nadharisaid in an audio clip released by AQAP.

The three gunmen have also been deemed “heroes” by Islamic State group radio.

First siege: Printworks office in Dammartin-en-Goële

At the first stand-off, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose outside a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, had holed up with a hostage.

The brothers were shot dead by special forces as they reportedly burst out of their hide-out.

Security forces had surrounded the building for most of the day.

Their hostage, identified as Michel Catalano, is believed to have been rescued alive.

Suspect's Wanted In Connection With Attack At The Satirical Weekly Charlie Hebdo

Killed … Charlie Hebdo massacre suspects Said Kouachi, 34 (left) and Cherif Kouachi, 32, have been killed. Picture: Direction centrals de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images Source: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Scene ... smoke rises as a special forces soldiers storm a printing warehouse on an indus

Scene … smoke rises as a special forces soldiers storm a printing warehouse on an industrial estate where the Charlie Hebdo massacre terrorists sought refuge. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Second siege: Kosher grocery store in Vincennes

Moments after police surrounded the Kouachi brothers outside Paris, explosions were heard at a second siege, where another Islamic militant gunman was threatening to kill his hostages if the brothers were injured.

Gunman Amedy Coulibay spoke to French TV station BFM during the siege, saying he had taken 16 people hostage at a kosher grocery store, selected specifically “because it was Jewish”.

Free ... Hostages are rescued after being held hostage in the grocery store. Picture: Sna

Free … Hostages are rescued after being held hostage in the grocery store. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

He said four of his captives were dead.

He told the station he had “co-ordinated” with the suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers and belonged to the Islamic State group.

BFM released the recording of the conversation, which was translated from French by The Guardian.

In the clip, the anchor explains that a BFM reporter called the print works office the Kouachi brothers had taken over, and managed to secure a conversation with the younger brother, Cerif Kouachi. This is what he said:

Tense standoff ... Police had to move quickly after Gunman Amedy Coulibay said he would s

Tense standoff … Police had to move quickly after Gunman Amedy Coulibay said he would shoot all the hostages if the brothers were killed. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

“We just want to say that we are the defenders of the prophet, and that I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by al-Qaeda in Yemen. And that I went there and that it was Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki who financed me”, adding that the visit took place before Awlaki was killed.

Later that day, BFM got a call from Amedy Coulibaly, who wanted to be in contact with the police. Their conversation is below.

BFM: Are you in touch with the two brothers who conducted the operation at Charlie Hebdo?

Coulibaly: Yes. We synchronised our operations.

BFM: Are you still in touch with them? Have you recently spoken with them by phone?

Coulibaly: No.

BFM: How were you synchronised with the Kouachis? Are there further attacks planned?

Coulibaly: No, we only synchronised to kickstart things: so when they started Charlie Hebdo, I started on the police officers.

On the run ... Hayat Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of dead gunman, Gunman Amedy Coulibay, m

On the run … Hayat Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of dead gunman, Gunman Amedy Coulibay, managed to escape. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

He also tells the TV channel that he has killed four of his 16 hostages, a fact later confirmed by French interior minister Bernard Cazenueve with the following tweet by French news source infos140: “B. Cazeneuve confirms the results from 5 deaths (including A. Coulibaly) and 4 wounded, Porte de Vincennes (France 2)”.

Coulibay, who was suspected of killing a police officer yesterday, was shot dead by police.

An official said the two sets of hostage-takers knew each other.

Hayat Boumeddiene, 26. Picture: Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire via Getty Imag

Hayat Boumeddiene, 26. Picture: Direction centrals de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Amedy Coulibaly, 32. Picture: Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images

Amedy Coulibaly, 32. Picture: Direction centrals de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

France on high-alert

The French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, has sent a series of Tweets confirming reports that two of the terror suspects were killed, according to “his information”.

France has been on high alert since the country’s worst terror attack in decades — the massacre on Wednesday in Paris at Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

At the kosher grocery near the Porte de Vincennes neighbourhood in Paris, the gunman, Amedy Coulibay, burst in shooting just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring “You know who I am,” the official recounted.

The official said Coulibay is also believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman on Thursday.

Paris police released a photo of Coulibaly and a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, who the official said was his accomplice and girlfriend.

Several people wounded when the gunman opened fire in the kosher grocery were able to flee and get medical care, the official said.

Police said 100 students were under lockdown in schools nearby and the highway ringing Paris was closed.

Evacuation ... French police special forces evacuated businesses and other properties in

Evacuation … French police special forces evacuated businesses and other properties in Porte de Vincennes when a gunman opened fire at a kosher grocery store. Picture: AFP/Martin Bureau Source: AFP

Hours before and 40 kilometres away, a convoy of police trucks, helicopters and ambulances streamed toward Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle Airport, to seize the Charlie Hebdo suspects, who had hijacked a car in a nearby town after more than two days on the run.

“They said they want to die as martyrs,” Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker who said he was inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.

Siege ... a helicopter of the French Special Police Forces waits in fields surrounding an

Siege … a helicopter of the French Special Police Forces waits in fields surrounding an industrial estate where the Charlie Hebdo attack suspects were hiding out. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Leaders respond to tragedy

French President Francois Hollande has confirmed that four people were killed in the siege in the Vincennes supermarket in a live televised address on Friday.

“I want to congratulate the courage, the bravery of the police officers of all those that participated in these operations,” he said. “I want to say to them we are proud of them.”

He also described the attack on the kosher supermarket as “anti-Semitic”.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama rallied to the support of France on Friday after the bloody end to hostage sieges in Paris, vowing to offer all assistance to combat the threat of militant Islamists.

“I want the people of France to know that the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow,” Obama said at a speaking engagement in Tennessee, describing France as America’s “oldest ally”.

Network Writers and AP

Charlie Hebdo shooting: 12 people killed, 11 injured, in attack on satirical newspaper

Featured


A disgusting barbaric and gutless attack on the whole of society. I hope they round up these savages quickly and bring them to justice. Freedom of speech is the very fibre of a free society. WE must never ever fold to the threat of terrorism!If anyone in Australia has a thread of sympathy for the cause of these terrorists. get the hell out of our country now. Watch as they assassinate this policeman point blank.

updated 10th Jan 2015

Charlie Hebdo suspects among three gunmen killed as French police end hostage stand-offs in Paris and Dammartin-en-Goele

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Sat 10 Jan 2015, 1:57pm

French police have killed three gunmen, including two brothers suspected of shooting dead 12 people in an attack at the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Cherif and Said Kouachi were at the centre of a stand-off at a printing business in an industrial area in Dammartin-en-Goele, around 40 kilometres from an area which was subject to intense police searches on Thursday.

Police stormed the building several hours after a car chase that saw shots fired. A hostage was freed unhurt. It has been reported the gunmen came out firing when police moved in.

In a simultaneous assault, dozens of heavily armed officers stormed a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris where a gunman with links to the same Islamist group as the Kouachi brothers had taken several people hostage.

Explosions were heard shortly before television pictures showed a number of people being freed.

The gunman was shot dead and four hostages were killed. Two officers were injured as police forced their way into the store.

After police brought the sieges to an end, French president Francois Hollande called for unity and vigilance from his countrymen.

“With the prime minister I have further strengthened the means to protect public places. But we must be vigilant. I also call upon unity because as I have expressed before… it is our best weapon,” he said.

“Today in a kosher supermarket it was a terrible act that was committed. The people who committed the acts, these fanatics, have got nothing to do with the Muslim religion.”

Mr Hollande has invited a number of world leaders to a “great gathering” on Sunday, when he has called for “all French men and women to rise”.

Police said the gunman in the grocery store was believed to be connected to the killing of a policewoman at a metro station on Thursday and released mugshots of Amedy Coulibaly, 32, and Hayat Boumeddiene, 26.

Coulibaly knew at least one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a source told French news agency Agency France-Press.

It is understood police are still searching for Boumeddiene.

The exact number of hostages in the grocery store siege was unclear, but local media reported at least five were held.

A security source said Coulibaly shot two people as soon as he entered the store, and had “one or more bags” of explosives with him but did not detonate them.

He had tried to booby-trap the entrance to the shop “but had not hooked up the explosives”, the source added.

Police cordoned off the area in Port de Vincennes and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve rushed to the scene.

Reports have surfaced that Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi were known to each other and were seen together in 2010 while visiting another jihadist, Djamel Beghal, the mastermind of a failed prison break-out plot.

Coulibaly was convicted for his role in the planned break-out and was well-known to anti-terrorist police.

Plan to ‘neutralise’ Charlie Hebdo gunmen

On Wednesday the two Kouchai brothers had stormed the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo armed with Kalashnikov rifles.

They shot dead eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance man and a visitor to the offices in the worst militant attack on French soil in decades.

The French government then launched a massive manhunt for the suspects, deploying 88,000 soldiers and police.

Mr Cazeneuve confirmed police had cornered the Kouachi brothers in Dammartin-en-Goele.

“An operation is underway which is set to neutralise the perpetrators of the cowardly attack carried out two days ago,” he said in a televised statement.

Helicopters were seen flying over an industrial zone outside the town where around 200 children from a pre-school, primary school and high school were evacuated to the town gymnasium.

Earlier, police had chased a vehicle at high speed along the A2 motorway towards Paris as authorities appeared to be closing in on the two brothers. Parts of the chase were broadcast live on TV as media vehicles followed closely behind police.

Gunshots rang out and police trucks, ambulances and armoured vehicles descended on the area close to Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Paris prosecutor denied French media reports that at least one person had been killed when the shots were fired during the car chase.

The previous night officers had focused their search on the woodland village of Corcy, not far from a service station where police sources said the brothers had been seen in ski masks.

Said and Cherif Kouachi were French-born sons of Algerian-born parents, both in their early 30s, and both were already under police surveillance.

One was jailed for 18 months for trying to travel to Iraq a decade ago to fight as part of an Islamist cell.

Police had described them as being “armed and dangerous”.

US and European sources close to the investigation said on Thursday that Said Kouachi was in Yemen in 2011 for several months training with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the group’s most active affiliates.

A Yemeni official familiar with the matter said the Yemen government was aware of the possibility of a connection between Said Kouachi and AQAP and was looking into any possible links.

US government sources said Said Kouachi and his brother were listed in two US security databases, a highly classified database containing information on 1.2 million possible counter-terrorism suspects, called TIDE, and the much smaller no-fly list maintained by the Terrorist Screening Centre, an interagency unit.

US television network ABC reported that the brothers had been listed in the databases for years.

Dave Joly, a spokesman for the Terrorist Screening Centre, said he could neither confirm nor deny if the Kouachis were listed in counter-terrorism databases.

Reuters/AFP

Keep watching after he drops, they run up to him and bang from less than a metre.

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Updated about 2 hours agoThu 8 Jan 2015, 11:49am

At least 12 people have been killed by gunmen reportedly armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher who opened fire in the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

French officials said 11 other people were injured, at least four seriously, in the shooting at the central Paris offices about 11.30am (local time) on Wednesday.

Two police officers and ten journalists are thought to have been killed.

It is understood the gunmen initially burst into number 6 rue Nicolas-Appert in a Paris neighbourhood, where the archives of the Charlie Hebdo are based, shouting “is this Charlie Hebdo?” before realising they had got the wrong address.

The men then moved quickly down the road to number 10 around noon (local time) and fired at reception staff before moving to the second floor where journalists and cartoonists were holding an editorial conference.

“The two men opened fire and coldly killed the people in the conference room, as well as the police officer in charge of protecting [cartoonist] Charb, who did not have time to react,” a police source said.

Only one person survived, by hiding under the table, according to police.

The deputy mayor of Paris, Patrick Klugman, said the killers knew exactly who they were looking for.

“Two shooters enter into the press room and pick the journalists, asked for their names, and shot bullets in their head,” he said.

A manhunt is underway for a total of three masked men who escaped the scene. Their hijacked getaway car was later found abandoned on the outskirts of the city.

A raid by France’s elite anti-terrorist unit was under way late on Wednesday in the north-eastern city of Reims.

A member of the anti-terror unit at the scene of the raid said either the suspects would be able to escape, or “there will be a showdown”.

According to a police source two of the gunmen are brothers from the Paris region. The third man is believed to be from Reims.

A police document identified the men as Said Kouachi, born in 1980, Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982, and Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996.

In a video filmed by journalist Martin Boudot, who was taking refuge on a nearby rooftop, the men can be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) between rounds of gunfire.

Police said another witness heard the attackers shouting “we have avenged the prophet”.

Another short amateur video broadcast by French television stations showed two hooded men outside the building. One of them sees a wounded policeman lying on the ground and strides over to him to shoot him at point-blank range.

Video: Video of armed gunmen from a distance (ABC News)

In another clip on Television station iTELE, the attackers are heard shouting “We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed.”

The pair can then be seen calmly walking over to a black car before driving off.

The gunmen fled towards the eastern Paris suburbs after hijacking a car, police officials said.

It is the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades.

Charlie Hebdo has been at the centre of repeated controversy around its publication of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed and its offices were firebombed in 2011.

Dozens of police and emergency services were at the site as police secured a wide perimeter around the shooting scene, where a car could be seen riddled with bullet holes.

Police union official Rocco Contento described the scene inside the offices as “carnage”.

French president Francois Hollande rushed to the scene of the attack and the government said it was raising France’s security warning to the highest level.

“This is a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about it,” Mr Hollande said.

“An act of indescribable barbarity has just been committed today in Paris. Measures have been taken to find those responsible, they will be hunted for as long as it takes to catch them and bring them to justice.

“They will be pursued for as long as is necessary in order that they be arrested and put in front of a court and a judge so they can be prosecuted.”

A source close to the investigation said two men “armed with a Kalashnikov and a rocket-launcher” stormed the building and “fire was exchanged with security forces”.

The source said the gunmen hijacked a car and knocked over a pedestrian as they sped away.

A man who lived close to the newspaper’s offices described what he saw from the window.

“I was at home, I heard gunshots. At first I thought it was the Chinese New Year but it wasn’t the date. I looked through the window and I saw police officers playing hide and seek with the criminals and I understood it was a shooting,” he said.

“I saw people hiding in the subway station and I gathered something serious was going on.”

Sources at the newspaper said the deceased included co-founder and cartoonist Jean Cabut, editor-in-chief Stephane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier, deputy chief editor Bernard Maris, and cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Tignous.

“About a half an hour ago two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs,” one witness told French iTELE TV News.

“A few minutes later we heard lots of shots,” he said, adding that the men were then seen fleeing the building.

Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is renowned for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders and has published numerous cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed.

The last tweet on its account mocked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The publication gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.

Its offices were fire-bombed in November 2011 when it published a cartoon of Mohammed under the title “Charia Hebdo”.

Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the magazine continued to publish controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet.

In September 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Mohammed as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film, titled “Innocence of Muslims”, which was made in the United States and insulted the prophet.

French schools, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries were briefly closed along with embassies for fear of retaliatory attacks.

Mr Charbonnier had received death threats and lived under police protection.

‘Possibility of other attacks’

“There is possibility of other attacks and other sites are being secured,” Mr Contento said.

Sirens could be heard across Paris as prime minister Manuel Valls said security was being ramped up at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores.

Danish media group JP/Politikens Hus, whose newspaper Jyllands-Posten has also published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, has increased its security level.

Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons in 2005, sparking a wave of protests across the Muslim world in which at least 50 died.

“If the perpetrators are still at large, we’re going to track them down, and we’re going to work with the French to do that,” a White House spokesman told MSNBC television.

World leaders were united in condemning the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

British prime minister David Cameron described the attack as “sickening” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the shooting was not only an attack on French citizens, but on freedoms of press and speech.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said consular officials were in contact with French authorities to confirm no Australians were affected by the attack.

A Department spokesperson said Australians in Paris should remain vigilant and should follow the instructions of the French authorities.

Australians travelling to France are encouraged to monitor the travel advice on the Smart Traveller website.

Local Muslims denounce attackers as ‘barbarians’

France last year reinforced its anti-terrorism laws and was already on alert after calls from Islamist militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.

The attack, as yet unclaimed, comes amid what a number of commentators have identified as rising xenophobia in Europe, with thousands of protesters in several German cities rallying earlier this week against Muslim immigration.

France’s five-million-strong Muslim population is Europe’s largest.

“I am extremely angry. These are criminals, barbarians. They have sold their soul to hell. This is not freedom. This is not Islam and I hope the French will come out united at the end of this,” said Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in the northern Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis.

Late last year, a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” injured 13 people by ramming a vehicle into a crowd in the eastern city of Dijon.

French officials say several attacks were prevented in recent weeks.

The last major attack in Paris was in the mid-1990s when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) carried out a spate of attacks, including the bombing of a commuter train in 1995 which killed eight people and injured 150.

However, the Islamic State insurgent group praised Wednesday’s attack saying the raid was revenge for insults against Islam.

“The lions of Islam have avenged our Prophet,” Abu Mussab, a Syrian who fights with the Islamic State, said via an internet connection from Syria.

“These are our lions. It’s the first drops – more will follow,” he said. He added that he and his fellow fighters were happy about the incident.

ABC/Wires


Charlie Hebdo attack: Multiple fatalities in French newspaper shooting

January 08, 2015 2:08PM

THE youngest of three terrorists believed to be responsible for killing at least 12 people in the attack on a French satirical magazine has handed himself in, French police sources have said.

France’s elite anti-terrorism unit is believed to have cornered the terrorists at a property in the north-eastern city of Reims.

Earlier, a member of the unit hinted at a possible bloody outcome saying: “There will be a showdown”, as heavily armed officers surrounded the property following a massive manhunt after the offenders fled Charlie Hebdo newspaper’s Paris headquarters after gunning down 12 people.

Police surround a property in Reims where it is believed they have the terrorists cornere

Police surround a property in Reims which is believed to have been used by the three suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre Source: Supplied

The surrounded property is in the Reims suburb known as Croix-Rouge

The surrounded property is an apartment block in the Reims suburb known as Croix-Rouge Source: AFP

Residents wait outside as French police search the Reims apartment block

Residents wait outside as French police search the building for evidence relating to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack Source: AFP

Police have identified three men, two Parisian brothers, 32 and 34, and another 18-year-old man they believe are responsible for the worst post-war terror attack in France.

Police have named Said Kouachi, Cherif Kouachi, Hamyd Mourad now believed to have fled to the north-eastern city of Reims.

It is understood French police discovered who the attackers were after finding an identity card in an abandoned getaway car.

French police have released new photographs of the wanted brothers: Cherif Kouachi (left)

French police have released new photographs of the wanted brothers: Cherif Kouachi (left) 32 and Said Kouachi, 34. Source: AFP

French magazine Le Point is reporting the two brothers had returned to France from Syria last month, and had ties to an Iraqi network in Paris encouraging young men to join militants in Iraq.

Cherif may have served prison time in 2008 for involvement in an Iraqi jihadist group operating out of France.

Masked gunman run towards a victim of their gun fire outside the French satirical newspap

Masked gunman run towards a victim of their gun fire outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s office, in Paris.  Source: AP

Armed ... Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical news

Violent … armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Picture: AFP/Anne Gelbard Source: News Corp Australia

Scene ... two of the gunmen who opened fire at French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Pi

Scene … two of the gunmen who opened fire at French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Picture: Live Leak Source Source: News Corp Australia

Armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher, two gunmen, claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, stormed the satirical paper’s office about 11.30am on Wednesday (9:30pm AEDT Wednesday) shouting “we have avenged the Prophet” and “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) as they fired.

MORE: The victims of Charlie Hebdo terror attack

MORE: Newspaper gunmen ‘on the loose’

MORE: What to know about Charlie Hebdo

The gunmen headed to the second floor editorial department where staff were holding their daily meeting and asked people who they were before shooting.

Terrified staff scattered, with some seeking refuge on the roof as the attack went on for five to 10 minutes before the gunmen managed to escape.

After being called out by name and executed in front of colleagues, ten staff members were gunned down and a police officer was also shot dead before the offenders fled in a getaway car where a third man was waiting.

Driving to Porte de Pantin in northeast Paris where they abandoned the first car and hijacked another, the three gunman emerged from their getaway vehicle to casually injure and execute a French policeman.

WARNING: Graphic content – Moments before Paris gunmen shoot victim

WARNING: Graphic content - Moments before Paris gunmen shoot victim

The escape prompted a huge manhunt with 3000 police are scouring the city in search of the terrorists as French President Francois Hollande described the bloodbath as an “undoubtedly terrorist act.”

Police are now conducting France anti-terror raids in the north-eastern city of Reims as part of their search for the terrorists.

‘A REAL SLAUGHTER’: WITNESSES DESCRIBE ATTACK

Rocco Contento, spokesman for the Unite police union, said the attackers exchanged gunfire with

“They opened fire on everyone, it was butchery, a real slaughter,” Mr Conteno has told the daily Libération.

“Some of the people there took refuge up on the roof. The attackers then emerged, and there was a shootout with police.”

Mr Contento added that the Charlie Hebdo offices had increased its security in recent weeks following renewed threats against the paper.

The contentious newspaper has drawn repeated threats for its controversial caricatures and was firebombed in 2011 in response to a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

In videos posted from scenes of the attack, the gunmen can be heard yelling “Allahu Akbar” as gunshots fire.

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

Witness Corinne Rey told L’Humanite she was forced to let the attackers into the building, and they claimed to be from al-Qaeda.

“I had gone to pick up my daughter from daycare. Arriving at the door of the newspaper building, two hooded and armed men brutally threatened us,” she said.

“They wanted to enter, go up. I typed the code. They shot Wolinski, Cabu … it lasted five minutes … I had taken refuge under a desk … They spoke French perfectly … claiming to be al-Qaeda.”

MANHUNT: Newspaper gunmen ‘on the loose’

CHARM: ‘I’d rather die standing than live on my knees’

Australian journalist Amanda Morrow, who lives near the Charlie Hebdo offices, told News Corp Australia that even two hours after the attack, emergency vehicles were still streaming to the site.

Ms Morrow, who has worked for Radio France International for six years and, incidentally, is due to give birth today, said she was not surprised by the attack.

“If you live anywhere near Charlie Hebdo, which has continually printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, you know that it is always going to be a target,” she said. “Paris is no stranger to these sorts of attacks, there has been a lot of animosity between Jews and Muslims.”

French soldiers patrol the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the capital was placed under the high

French soldiers patrol the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the capital was placed under the highest alert status. Picture: Joel Saget Source: AFP

Investigation ... French police and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen

Investigation … French police and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: AFP/Getty Images Source: AFP

A police car riddled with bullets during the attack.

Damage … a police car riddled with bullets. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Massive manhunt

The gunmen’s escape prompted a massive manhunt with about 3000 police officers scouring the streets of Paris for hours following the attack.

Police are forensically examining the abandoned black Citroen getaway car, which was found in the nearby 19th district in north-eastern Paris.

Liberation is reporting three suspects aged 18, 32, and 34, two of them believed to be brothers, have been arrested.

According to MetroNews, police have identified the men as Said and Cherif K, brothers born in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, and Hamyd M, the 18-year-old, whose nationality is not yet known.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (centre) arrives at the offices of the French satirica

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (centre) arrives at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

A police officer stands next to the bicycle of a police officer who was hit by a car near

A police officer stands next to the bicycle of a police officer who was hit by a car near the shell of a bullet (bottom R) not far from the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Philippe Dupeyrat Source: AFP

People hug each other outside Charlie Hebdo's office. Picture: Remy de la Mauviniere

People hug each other outside Charlie Hebdo’s office. Picture: Remy de la Mauviniere Source: AP

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon reacts outside of the headquarters of Charlie H

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon reacts outside of the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Kenzo Tribouillard Source: AFP

A woman cries outside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Kenzo Tribouillard

A woman cries outside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Kenzo Tribouillard Source: AFP

Victims

Two police officers and 10 newspaper staff are among at least 12 killed in the attack.

Police said 11 are injured, four critically.

French media have named five of the victims: controversial cartoonist and editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as “Charb”; cartoonists Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac; and economist and writer Bernard Maris.

Victims ... Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the attack include (clockwise from top left) ca

Victims … Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the attack include (clockwise from top left) cartoonist Jean Cabut, aka Cabu, cartoonist Tignous, Georges Wolinski and publisher Charb. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Charbonnier, 47, faced constant threats over the controversial publication, and once famously said: “I’d prefer to die standing than live on my knees.”

He appeared in a 2013 Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam article published by Inspire, the terrorist propaganda magazine published by al-Qaeda.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard, was in London at the time of the attack.

“I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war,” he told France Inter.

It has been reported the gunmen asked for the cartoonists by name before killing them.

Thousands of tributes to the cartoonists have appeared online with the hashtag Je Suis Charlie, which means “I am Charlie.”

Killled ... writer Bernard Maris was murdered in the attack. Picture: AFP

Killed … writer Bernard Maris was murdered in the attack. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Staff ... members of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo pictured in 2006, inclu

Staff … members of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo pictured in 2006, including cartoonists Cabu (L), Charb (2nd L), Tignous (4th L) and Honore (5th L) posing in front of the then headquarters of the weekly in Paris. Picture: Joel Saget Source: AFP, a 42-year-old Muslim man has been named as one of the officers killed.

Graphic video shows the officer being killed point-blank on the sidewalk by the terrorists after begging for his life.

What is Charlie Hebdo?

The satirical newspaper gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.

Its offices were firebombed in November 2011 when it published a cartoon of Mohammed and under the title Charia Hebdo. No one was injured in that attack.

Previous attack ... this picture shows the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie H

Previous attack … this picture shows the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo when it was firebombed in 2011. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the weekly continued to publish controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet. In September 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Mohammed as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film, titled Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the United States and insulted the prophet.

French schools, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries were briefly closed along with embassies for fear of retaliatory attacks at the time.

Before his death in Wednesday’s shooting, editor Stephane Charbonnier received death threats and lived under police protection.

Charlie Hebdo’s front page on the day of the shooting

The French newspaper has long been the subject of threats and attacks in its 50-year history, particularly for poking fun at the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

The cover of Wednesday’s paper — the day of the shooting — featured a caricature of Michel Houellebecq, a novelist whose sixth novel, Submission, predicts a future France run by Muslims, in which women no longer wear Western clothes and polygamy is accepted.

On the cover, Mr Houellebecq is depicted as a wizard and smoking a cigarette, saying: “In 2022, I will do Ramadan.”

The last tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s Twitter profile page @Charlie_Hebdo_, sent about an hour before the shootings, included a satirical cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In it he wishes everyone “good health”.

It has not been confirmed if Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover image or tweet were the cause of the shooting.

Paris raises terror alert

French President Francois Hollande has condemned the attack as an “undoubtedly terrorist act.”

Paris has raised its terror alert level to the highest setting following the attack, with Mr Hollande calling an emergency cabinet meeting.

“France is today in shock, in front of a terrorist attack. This newspaper was threatened several rimes in the past and we need to show we are a united country,” he said.

French President Francois Hollande (C) arrives at the headquarters of the French satirica

French President Francois Hollande (C) arrives at the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

“We have to be firm, and we have to be stand strong with the international community in the coming days and weeks. We are at a very difficult moment following several terrorist attacks. “We are threatened because we are a country of freedom. We will punish the attackers. We will look for the people responsible.”

The French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said prosecutors have been asked to take all precautions to protect publications, cultural institutions and public places.

He said that all measures were being taken “to neutralise these three criminals who have committed this barbaric act.”

Thousands rally in Paris for victims

Thousands of people joined rallies in Paris and other French cities on Wednesday evening to pay tribute to the victims of the massacre.

At least 10,000 people gathered in the eastern city of Lyon and another 5000 in Paris not far from the site of the attack that killed 12 people, according to police.

Crowds chanted “liberate d’expression” and held up pens, as a black armband was placed on Lady Liberty at Place de la Republique.

Peaceful rally ... thousands gather in front of the prefecture in Lille, northern France.

Peaceful rally … thousands gather in front of the prefecture in Lille, northern France. Picture: AFP/ Denis Charlet Source: AFP

People holds placards reading ‘I am Charlie’ in a gathering in Toulouse. Picture: AFP/Eri

People holds placards reading ‘I am Charlie’ in a gathering in Toulouse. Picture: AFP/Eric Cabanis Source: AFP

A woman demonstrates in Toulouse for press freedom. Picture: AFP/Eric Cabanis

A woman demonstrates in Toulouse for press freedom. Picture: AFP/Eric Cabanis Source: AFP

Liberty ... a black armband was placed on Lady Liberty at Place de la Republique as demon

Liberty … a black armband was placed on Lady Liberty at Place de la Republique as demonstrators for peace wave the French flag. Picture: AFP/Dominique Faget Source: AFP

World leaders respond

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott condemned Thursday the “barbaric act” in Paris

“Australia stands with the people and the government of France at this difficult time,” Abbott said in a statement.

“The thoughts of all Australians are with the families of those who have lost their lives in this barbaric act. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a free society,”

World leaders have condemned Wednesday’s shooting, calling it an attack on press freedom and barbaric.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the murders were “sickening”.

“We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the killings were a “barbaric attack on freedom of speech”.

“My thoughts are with the victims, their families and their colleagues,” he said.

The White House said it condemns the Paris attack in “strongest possible terms.”

“Everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, speaking on MSNBC.

“Senior officials at the White House have been in close touch with their counterparts in France this morning.”

He said the US was willing to help the French with an investigation.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said the shooting was “also an attack on press and free speech”, while Russian president Vladimir Putin said he “resolutely condemns terrorism.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the deadly attack highlighted the need to close ranks against militants.

“This terrorist attack (is) condemned by Iraq, which has suffered greatly at the hands of terrorist groups,” Abadi said in a statement. “This confirms that terrorism threatens all the countries of the world, and not Iraq alone.”

Queen Elizabeth also sent a message to Mr Hollande.

“Prince Philip and I send our sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed and to those who have been injured in the attack in Paris this morning,” she said. “We send our thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected.”

Pope Francis strongly condemned the “horrible attack” against a French satirical weekly Wednesday that left 12 people dead, his spokesman said.

“The Holy Father expresses the strongest condemnation for the horrible attack that plunged the city of Paris into mourning,” Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said the attack was a “direct assault on democracy, media and freedom of expression.”

Obama Comments on Paris Attack
Story by

Network Writers and wires

News Corp Australia

Five accused of Sydney’s two biggest drug ops get bail-Bloody joke


What chance have the cops got when these blokes get bail? Billion dollar drug busts….FFS they are connected to big crime gangs and what, a judge thinks they are going to hang around like choir boys for the next court date. 1.5 million for bail is like a 10 minute parking meter charge for these gangs. part of doing business in the big cities. Pathetic and draining of energy for the authorities chasing these peddlers of death and destruction!

Mark Morri Crime Editor
The Daily Telegraph
December 31, 2014 12:00AM

Police images of the drug haul which allegedly led to the arrests of three men accused of

Police images of the drug haul which allegedly led to the arrests of three men accused of links to the Comanchero Bikie Gang. Picture: NSW Police

FIVE people charged over two of Sydney’s largest drug operations — with amounts measured in tonnes and bearing a street-value in the billions — have received bail, leaving senior NSW and federal police shocked and furious.

One of the major drug schemes allegedly involved international drug cartels and the other a Sydney bikie gang.

In one case two men accused of taking part in the importation of $1.5 billion dollars worth of drugs into Sydney were granted bail in Central Local Court last week.

Police images of the lab uncovered in the raid in Kenthurst. Picture: NSW Police

Police images of the lab uncovered in the raid in Kenthurst. Picture: NSW Police

The two, Rene Arancinia, 23, from Kogarah and Joshua Hamlin, 34, from Sylvania have been charged with attempted possession of a commercial quantity of drugs.

The pair are allegedly part of a coalition of organised crime groups responsible for importing almost three tonnes of illegal drugs, including 1917kg of ecstasy (MDMA) and 849kg of crystal methamphetamine.

Magistrate Les Mabbutt granted the men bail on December 17 despite the case involving the second-biggest drug bust in Australian history. Both men had to hand up their passports as well as post bail with a security of $1.5 million as part of the conditions.

“(If convicted) These guys are facing life, are allegedly linked to some of the wealthiest drug cartels in the world and are granted bail. I know the surety seems quite high but we are talking about more than a billion dollars in drugs,” a senior NSW police source said.

Three men have faced court and received bail in relation to the Kenthurst Lab, shown here

Three men have faced court and received bail in relation to the Kenthurst Lab, shown here. Picture: NSW Police

The illegal substances were intercepted by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers. The drugs were hidden in a mixed container-load of furniture and unmarked boxes.

Police will allege the consignment with an estimated weight of almost two tonnes of MDMA and more than 800kgs of methamphetamine was shipped to Australia from Germany and arrived into Australia on 19 November.

Police conducted a controlled delivery of the consignment to an address in Blacktown where its contents were removed and transported to another location. The men have been ordered to appear again on February 4.

Police were just as shocked in Parramatta local court the week before when three men with links to the Comanchero bikie gang were given bail after being charged in relation to the manufacture of $48 million worth of methamphetamines.

The men were charged in relation to the manufacture of $48 million worth of methamphetami

The men were charged in relation to the manufacture of $48 million worth of methamphetamines. Picture: NSW Police

The NSW Gang Squad raided a property in Kenthurst in Sydney northwest where they allegedly found 32kg of methamphetamine and other chemicals used in the manufacturing of ice.

A .357 unregistered pistol was also found.

Three men, Emra Oncu, 29, from Stanhope Gardens, Ulas Doga, 25, of Quakers Hill and Koray Unver, 28, of St Clair were later charged with manufacture of a large commercial quantity of prohibited drug, and participating in a criminal group. One was also charged over illegal possession of a weapon.

The men appeared in Parramatta Local Court on December 10.

All three were granted bail on the condition they report daily to police, hand up their passports and relatives deposit their homes as security on their non-appearance.

A .357 unregistered pistol was also found at the lab. Picture: NSW Police

A .357 unregistered pistol was also found at the lab. Picture: NSW Police

They were also ordered not to approach, contact or associate with any prosecution or any co-accused or any member of the Comanchero group.

Despite impending changes to the bail act being introduced by current Attorney-General Brad Hazzard, the five men have received bail under the current laws introduced by his predecessor Greg Smith in 2013 that removed the presumption for or against bail.

The new changes mean that people seen as an “unacceptable risk” to the community will be refused bail automatically, and those accused of serious offences will have to “show cause” why bail should be granted.

The arrested men were ordered not to approach, contact or associate with any prosecution

The arrested men were ordered not to approach, contact or associate with any prosecution or any co-accused or any member of the Comanchero group. Picture: NSW Police

Despite the urgency to pass the new laws, they are not operational — with Mr Hazzard saying it will take until January 28 to train magistrates, court staff and police in how the changes work.

“Changing the provision of the bail act was obviously critical following the report we had from former … John Hatzistergos,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The government ensured all the provisions were legislated and now we are in the process of making sure all of the people who have to make decisions under the Bail act are properly trained in the new provisions.

“The government has made it very clear to everybody we wanted it underway as soon as humanly possible. The reality is people do need to be trained.”

Clive Palmer media adviser Andrew Crook charged over alleged kidnap of National Australia Bank executive


By the National Reporting Team’s Mark Solomons and Mark Willacy – exclusive

Fri 19 Dec 2014, 4:59pm

Clive Palmer‘s media adviser and confidant Andrew Crook has been granted bail after facing court charged over the alleged kidnapping of a National Australia Bank executive on an Indonesian island.

Crook was arrested this morning during police raids on properties in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

As part of the same operation, police from the state’s anti-bikie taskforce arrested Mick Featherstone, a Gold Coast private investigator and former senior detective at the centre of a year-long probe by Queensland‘s Crime and Corruption Commission into money laundering and police corruption.

Police also issued a warrant for the arrest of multi-millionaire property developer and former Sydney Swans , who lives in Bali.

Do you know more about this story? Email investigations@abc.net.au

Crook and Featherstone were held during morning raids at addresses in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm and Upper Coomera on the Gold Coast.

Crook was then taken to his Brisbane CBD office where police carried out further searches.

Officers also raided another Brisbane premises and seized documents.

On Friday afternoon Crook and Featherstone faced court charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, retaliation against a witness and attempted fraud against NAB.

Crook was bailed on conditions including that he surrender his passport and does not go within 100 metres of the NAB’s Southport branch.

The ABC understands Queensland Police will allege Crook and Mr Smith were involved in a January 2013 attempt to coerce a witness in a $70 million civil case involving Mr Smith to recant his evidence, using subterfuge and threats of violence.

Queensland Police say the charges stem from an elaborate scheme which police will allege was planned partly in Queensland. Section 12 of the Queensland Criminal Code allows for prosecutions for offences overseas where they would be considered crimes in Australia.

Police have been investigating claims Crook and Mr Smith lured the witness, an employee of the National Australia Bank, to Singapore and on to Batam Island in Indonesia using the pretence of a possible job offer from Clive Palmer.

It will be alleged that once on Batam Island, the witness was strip-searched, threatened and forced to make a statement recanting his evidence.

Clive Palmer calls raids a ‘black day for Australia’

Mr Palmer is not thought to have had any involvement in, or knowledge of the plot.

The federal MP arrived at Crook’s office during the raid and said he knew nothing of the allegations.

But he suggested the police actions could be politically motivated.

“I don’t know very much other than to say that Crook Media and Andrew Crook are responsible for all our media in Australia, was responsible for the Palmer United Party winning the last federal election,” he said.

“And of course, the LNP, the Liberal Government – Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott – don’t like the opposition we’ve been giving them in the Senate, they don’t like that sort of thing.

“I think this is a black day for Australia if any of this, which I don’t know anything about at the moment, has anything to do with political freedom in this country.

“I think it’s very important that there’s freedom of speech in Australia, that there’s diversity of opinion. I’m personally very concerned because Mr Crook is our media adviser and if they wanted to attack me or our party they can do that.”

Brisbane-based Crook has been Mr Palmer’s media adviser and spokesman since before the tycoon entered politics.

Since becoming a federal MP, Mr Palmer has retained the services of Crook and his PR firm, Crook Media, to handle his political media relations.

Clive Palmer chats with Andrew Crook Photo: Mr Crook has been Mr Palmer’s media adviser and spokesman since before the tycoon entered politics. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

Mr Smith made his fortune in the tourism industry after his AFL career.

Since 2009 he has been embroiled in legal action against the National Australia Bank, claiming the bank caused him to lose $70 million at the height of the global financial crisis.

He began building the biggest mansion on the Gold Coast, on Hedges Avenue at Mermaid Beach, but was later forced to sell it unfinished and at a loss.

Mr Smith then shifted his businesses to Bali, where he has developed luxury holiday accommodation. He also has interests in New Zealand and has re-invested in Gold Coast real estate in the past couple of years.

It is understood detectives from the Queensland police anti-bikie taskforce Maxima stumbled on evidence of the alleged January 2013 plot earlier this year while investigating Featherstone and his links to bikies, to former and serving police officers and his involvement with online betting syndicates on the Gold Coast.

The ABC revealed in September that Featherstone was the focus of a joint Maxima and Crime and Corruption Commission probe described as a “priority” investigation by CCC chairman Ken Levy.

In a parallel, four-month investigation, the ABC uncovered evidence Featherstone had for almost 10 years been involved in setting up and operating online betting syndicates alleged to have defrauded thousands of people across Australia of millions of dollars.

Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading (QOFT) this week renewed Featherstone’s private investigator’s licence, which had expired in October. It also renewed the licence held by his PI firm, Phoenix Global.

The office of Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, which oversees the QOFT, told the ABC it had conducted the required criminal history checks and could find no reason to deny Featherstone or his firm a licence.

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