NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell falls on sword and resigns over bottle of wine


CANYOURECALLNOWBARRY

Significant memory fail? yeah right, a $3000 dollar bottle of wine is pretty forgettable. NOTE he went from empathetic statements of having not receiving it, saying he would remember  if he did (maybe drank it and wrote the thank-you note and can’t recall, who knows, but he came to power on the back of atrocious corruption with the Labor government, to today being caught out with a letter he wrote thanking Nick Di Girolamo for the booze. AT least he is doing the right thing by going.

What do you think of all this readers?

HE HAS BEEN RECALLED TO APPEAR BACK AT ICAC AT MIDDAY TODAY. STAY TUNED FOR MORE

11.34pm

ICAC has been told the $3,000 bottle of wine was left at Mr O’Farrell’s door:

Counsel Assisting Geoffrey Watson SC has provided details to ICAC of the delivery of the 1959 bottle of Grange to Barry O’Farrell’s house.

He’s produced documents from Direct Couriers showing that the delivery was made on 20 April 2011.

The wine arrived at Mr O’Farrell’s Roseville home at 4.31pm after leaving Australian Water Holdings at Bella Vista at 3.38pm.

The parcel was one bottle of wine addressed to Mr O’Farrell.

ICAC was told it was left at the door, as directed.

Mr Watson says ICAC investigators have spoken to the courier who made the delivery but he has no “independent recollection” of the event.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to resign over ‘massive memory fail’ at ICAC

 Video: Barry O’Farrell will resign as Premier over ICAC evidence (ABC News)

Related Story: O’Farrell denies receiving $3,000 bottle of wine
A handwritten letter and envelope from NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to AWH executive Nick Di Girolamo expressing thanks for a bottle of wine.

A handwritten letter and envelope from NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to AWH executive Nick Di Girolamo expressing thanks for a bottle of wine.

16-04-2014 4-07-50 PMNew South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell says he will resign owing to a “massive memory fail” when giving evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) yesterday.

Mr O’Farrell has been unable to explain to ICAC a call from his phone to an Australian Water Holdings (AWH) executive who allegedly gave him a $3,000 bottle of Grange wine.

ICAC alleges the company AWH lobbied Mr O’Farrell over an agreement with the state-owned Sydney Water to roll out water infrastructure.

AWH is accused of corruptly billing Sydney Water for expenses and using the money for political donations, executive salaries and various other expenses.

PENFOLDSAWH executive Nick Di Girolamo yesterday told the inquiry he sent the Premier a $3,000 bottle of wine in 2011 to congratulate him after the election.

The bottle of Grange dated May 24, 1959 – Mr O’Farrell’s birthday – does not appear on the Premier’s pecuniary interests declaration for the period.

However, at ICAC Mr O’Farrell denied receiving the wine at all, telling the inquiry: “I’m not a wine connoisseur”.

The Premier also said he had no recollection of the 28-second call made from his phone to Mr Di Girolamo in 2011 around the time he was allegedly sent the wine.

Mr Di Girolamo had earlier told ICAC that Mr O’Farrell phoned him to thank him for the gift.

At a press conference this morning, Mr O’Farrell said ICAC had been presented with a note signed by him to Mr Di Girolamo, thanking him for an expensive gift of wine.

He says that while the evidence he gave to ICAC was “truthful”, “I do accept there is a thankyou note signed by me” to Mr Di Girolamo.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell says he will resign

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell says he will resign

Profile: Barry O’Farrell

  • Elected Premier on 26 March 2011
  • Elected as NSW Liberal Leader in April 2007
  • Represents the electorate of Ku-ring-gai
  • Elected to NSW Parliament in 1995
  • Served as NSW state director of the Liberal Party in the mid 1990s
  • Worked as a public policy advisor at both state and federal levels in the late 1980s and early 1990s

 

“I’ve accepted that I’ve had a massive memory fail. I still can’t explain either the arrival of a gift that I have no recollection of or its absence, which I certainly still can’t fathom, but I accept the consequences in an orderly way,” he said.

“A new Liberal leader will be elected to take on the position of NSW.”

He said that he did not seek to “wilfully” mislead ICAC, and, “As someone who believes in accountability, in responsibility I accept the consequences of my action”.

He continued: “As soon as I can organise a meeting of the parliamentary Liberal Party for next week, I will be resigning the position and enabling a new Liberal leader to be elected – someone who will then become the Premier of NSW.”

Mr O’Farrell has been recalled to ICAC to give evidence at midday today.

Honour and integrity rarely seen: Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Mr O’Farrell had demonstrated “integrity” by resigning over what he said was an innocent and inadvertent misleading of ICAC.

“We are seeing an act of integrity, an act of honour, the like of which we have rarely seen in Australian politics,” he said.

 

“I admire him tremendously for this, although I deeply regret the necessity for it.”

He described Mr O’Farrell as a “friend”, who had always strived to do the “right thing” by NSW.

“I have known Barry for two decades. He has been a friend of mine throughout that time,” he said.

“He has been a great servant of the Liberal Party, a great servant of the people of NSW and of Australia.

“He has constantly worked to do the right thing by the people of NSW and we were together as recently as last Friday in China winning trade and jobs for our country and our state.

“Obviously, as we now know, he innocently, inadvertently misled ICAC yesterday and he has taken the utterly honourable step of resigning as Premier.”

 

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Sophie Collombet murder: Benjamin Milward charged with rape and murder


UPDATED tonight 7.30pm 08/04/14

Benjamin James Milward arrives at the police Watch House in Brisbane, Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Benjamin James Milward arrives at the police Watch House in Brisbane, Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A 25-year-old man has been charged with the rape and murder of French student Sophie Collombet in Brisbane.

The naked and battered body of the 21-year-old business student was found in a rotunda at Kurilpa Park, near Brisbane’s William Jolly Bridge and CBD, on March 28.

Benjamin James Milward arrived in Brisbane tonight after an extradition order was approved in the Coffs Harbour Local Court on the NSW mid-north coast.

Shortly after arriving at the watch house, he was formally charged with murder, deprivation of liberty, rape and robbery.

  Milward was arrested in the NSW town yesterday afternoon and spent the morning being questioned by Queensland detectives.

He was named as a person of interest last week after police released security camera vision showing him in the area where Ms Collombet’s body was found around the time she was killed.

Milward will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow.

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart says he has been updating the Collombet family on the progress of the case.

Commissioner Stewart says he spoke to Ms Collombet’s father.

“I spent some time on the phone with him. He was very dignified and very grateful for the information, and obviously we’re keeping him up to date,” he said.

“We have a family liaison officer in the investigation team, and their job is to keep the family and friends aware of any progress in the investigation.”

Milward’s mother visits place where student’s body was found

The park where Ms Collombet’s body was found has become the focus of mourning in Brisbane.

Milward’s mother, Diane, today visited the park, and says she is standing by her son.

“Every day, however long it takes, whatever the outcome we’re going to be there,” she said.

Diane Milward (left), mother of Benjamin James Milward, visits a memorial to murdered Sophie Collombet in south Brisbane on April 8, 2014.

Diane Milward (left), mother of Benjamin James Milward, visits a memorial to murdered Sophie Collombet in south Brisbane on April 8, 2014.

 

“You just don’t think this could ever happen. It’s just, I’m still in denial I think; hoping for some glimmer of hope that it’s just a big mistake.”

Ms Milward also expressed sadness for the Collombet family.

“We’re all so sorry and sad and it shouldn’t happen to anybody. A beautiful girl like Sophie, she’s just gorgeous – it’s just wrong,” she said.

A makeshift vigil has sprung up at the park, with dozens of flowers and notes left in her memory.

“I did not know you Sophie,” reads one note. “But I had to be here just to show you how much I care.”

“Angel, I never knew you but I will never forget”, another note reads, while a bouquet of flowers was left with the message: “RIP beautiful girl. #SafestreetsforSophie.”

One note left at the rotunda, signed “from a Brisbane mother”, urges authorities to increase the amount of police on the streets.

On Thursday night a vigil is due to be held where Ms Collombet’s body was found.


Benjamin Milward arrested in Coffs Harbour

Benjamin Milward arrested in Coffs Harbour

A man wanted for questioning over the Brisbane murder of French student Sophie Collombet has been arrested in the New South Wales town of Coffs Harbour.

Police last week named Benjamin Milward as a person of interest in the 21-year-old’s murder.

Ms Collombet’s naked body was found in a rotunda at the Kurilpa Park, near the William Jolly Bridge and CBD, on March 28.

Mr Milward, 25, was spotted on security vision near Kurilpa Park about the time of the killing.

He was later caught on CCTV footage at the Bowen Hills train station a short time after the business student’s murder.

Police said he looked “a little bit disoriented, like he wasn’t real sure of the exits and his movements”.

Meanwhile, the park where Ms Collombet’s body was found has become the focus of mourning in Brisbane with floral tributes and messages laid at the scene.

French business student Sophie Collombet.

Ms Collombet’s naked body was found in a rotunda at the Kurilpa Park, near the William Jolly Bridge and CBD, on March 28.

Today, the place where her body was found is a makeshift vigil with dozens of flowers and notes left in her memory.

“I did not know you Sophie,” reads one note. “But I had to be here just to show you how much I care.”

“Angel, I never knew you but I will never forget”, another note reads, while a bouquet of flowers was left with the message: “RIP beautiful girl. #SafestreetsforSophie”.

One note left at the rotunda, signed “from a Brisbane mother”, urges authorities to increase the amount of police on the streets.

Sophie Collombet murder: Police issue nationwide alert in search for ‘person of interest’

Benjamin Milward

Brisbane police investigating the murder of Sophie Collombet have issued an Australia-wide alert as they search for person of interest Benjamin Milward.

The naked body of the French student was found in a rotunda at Kurilpa Park, near the William Jolly Bridge and CBD, on March 28.

The 21-year-old, who was studying business at Griffith University, was found with extensive head injuries believed to have been inflicted by a weapon.

Police have named Mr Milward as a person of interest after he was spotted on security vision near the riverside park about the time of Ms Collombet’s murder.

Other CCTV footage showed him getting off a train in the inner-city suburb of Bowen Hills later that evening.

“The last sighting of this person for our point of view or that we can establish is… about 11:35pm last Thursday,” Detective Inspector Rod Kemp said.

Benjamin Milward

Benjamin Milward has been captured on CCTV at Bowen Hills train station.

“It’s been a week since we’ve had any formal identification or contact with this person.”

The Ipswich family of Mr Milward say they have not heard from him and have joined police in urging the 25-year-old to make contact with authorities.

“We’re on the same page as police … we’re waiting for Ben to turn up,” relative Tere Douglas said.

The net has been cast further afield with police conceding that Mr Milward could be anywhere.

“Whether he’s taken flight or not, we don’t know,” Inspector Kemp said.

Police spent yesterday doorknocking businesses in Bowen Hills, hoping to gather more security vision which may capture Mr Milward’s movements after he left the train station.

“By his actions here, he does look a little bit disoriented, like he wasn’t real sure of the exits and his movements,” Inspector Kemp said.

Mr Milward is described as 180 centimetres tall with blond hair and a dragon tattoo on the left side of his chest.

 

Police say he should not be approached but are asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

Ms Collombet was the fourth international student killed in Brisbane since November.

Last month, 27-year-old Singaporean student Meenatchi Narayanan was found stabbed to death in a hotel room at the Travelodge at Upper Mount Gravatt.

Two South Korean students were killed in separate incidents late last year.

In November, the body of 22-year-old South Korean student Eunji Ban was discovered in parklands in Brisbane’s CBD.

Less than a month later, police found the body of Min Tae Kim, also from South Korea, in a shallow grave on a property at Algester in Brisbane’s south-west.

Sophie Collombet murder: Griffith University community ‘incredibly saddened’ by French student’s death

Updated Thu 3 Apr 2014, 7:36am AEDT

Griffith University says students and staff are deeply saddened by the murder of French business student Sophie Collombet in Brisbane.

The naked body of the 21-year-old was found by a passer-by in a rotunda at Kurilpa Park near the William Jolly Bridge last Friday morning.

Her body was formally identified yesterday, and police said she suffered extensive head injuries in what they described as a “brutal” attack.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart says officers are following a number of leads, but still need more information.

“This is a tragic occurrence – a young lady is dead, and our job is to solve it to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.

“We can’t do that without the help of the public so we’re still asking if you were in that area, or if you knew that young lady, please – any small piece of information might be a key to the investigation.”

Mr Stewart says Brisbane is generally a safe place, but students must always be on alert and stay away from dark parks and unlit areas.

Police Minister Jack Dempsey says officers are making the case a priority.

“We are urgently making sure this matter is resolved – that all the police resources are going into that investigation,” he said.

“But I’d also like to stress Brisbane is a safe city, and Queensland is a safe state.”

Campus community ‘shocked’

Griffith University pro-vice chancellor Sarah Todd says the campus community is shocked at the loss of one of its own.

“Obviously we’re incredibly saddened – we only found out yesterday that it was one of our students,” she said.

“The loss of Sophie has affected staff, it’s affected students, it’s affected people who knew her closely, but also other students who identify just very strongly about a young woman, their age, doing the same thing as them.”

The loss of Sophie has affected staff, it’s affected students, it’s affected people who knew her closely, but also other students who identify just very strongly about a young woman, their age, doing the same thing as them.

Griffith University pro-vice chancellor Sarah Todd

Professor Todd says she addressed students this morning and the university will be offering counselling support.

“Any death is a tragedy – a student and a young person who’s got so much to give – it’s an incredible tragedy,” she said.

She says Ms Collombet was a Masters student, so her class was a “close-knit group” of about 30 students.

“We will be sending counselling staff and international student advisers to Sophie’s class that’s due to take place tomorrow evening,” she said.

Ms Collombet is the fourth foreign student killed in Brisbane since late last year.

Sophie Collombet is the fourth international student found killed in Brisbane since November. Read more about Min Tae Kim, Meenatchi Narayanan and Eunji Ban.

But Professor Todd says international students should still feel safe in Brisbane.

“Obviously this is of huge concern to all of us,” she said.

“The only positive thing is none of the deaths are related in any way at all, so they’re not students of particular race – there’s nothing to say that any of the deaths occurred because they were students.

“There’s no more reason for them to be concerned now than there would’ve been.

“All young people should always be careful of where they’re walking and what they’re doing and I think that’s a message we need to get out.

“They seem to be very much random deaths and we don’t have all of the details of Sophie’s death yet, but there’s nothing at this stage to suggest she was targeted … for not being Australian.”

Last month, Singaporean student Meenatchi Narayanan, 27, was found stabbed to death in a hotel room at the Travelodge at Upper Mount Gravatt on Brisbane’s south side.

Police have charged a 31-year-old man with her murder.

In November, the body of 22-year-old South Korean student Eunji Ban was discovered in parklands in Brisbane’s CBD.

Ms Ban had been in Australia on a youth exchange for just six weeks before her death.

She was walking to work as a hotel cleaner in the Brisbane CBD when she was attacked early on a Sunday morning.

19-year-old man was charged over her murder.

Less than a month later, police found the body of another South Korean student in a shallow grave on a property at Algester, in Brisbane’s south-west.

Min Tae Kim, 28, was in Australia on a working holiday, and was last seen in December last year at his home at Cannon Hill in Brisbane’s south-east.

His flatmate told police Mr Kim had arranged to exchange $15,000 for Korean currency with someone he met online on the afternoon he disappeared.

Brisbane city is safe, says Newman

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says he is “troubled” by the killing but insists the city is safe.

“I believe it’s safe not only for students but safe for Brisbane residents,” he said.

“I’m obviously very sad and troubled by this latest case and I hope the police can catch someone as soon as possible.”

I’m obviously very sad and troubled by this latest case and I hope the police can catch someone as soon as possible.

Premier Campbell Newman

 

Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey says she does not expect the murder will affect international visitor numbers to the state, despite the murders of the four foreign students.

Ms Stuckey says her heart goes out to the woman’s family.

“But I have to say that Brisbane and Queensland and my beloved Gold Coast are still some of the safest places to work and holiday,” she said.

“That is further enhanced by our strong focus on tough law and order measures that have been brought in by the Government.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) spokesman Daniel Gschwind also says the murder is unlikely to deter overseas visitors from visiting Brisbane.

Mr Gschwind says Queensland is still considered a safe destination.

“I think there’s a difference between random acts of mindless violence like apparently this has been, and the other cases we’ve had,” he said.

“When we’re talking about random acts of violence, it’s not necessary to go out with messaging – we have to give our customers around the world a bit more credit.

“We all witness and hear of these incidences around the world and we put it in context and we understand whether there’s something systemic going on or not. There’s really nothing systemic going on here.

“But there is a human tragedy and we have to show compassion and react as a concerned community should.”

 

 

 

Sex offender Sean Carmody-Coyle on the run after escaping corrections facility in Victoria


ALERT ESCAPED SEX OFFENDER

Here we go again folks.THIS mongrel HAS DONE THE EXACT THING BEFORE STAYING IN THESE RESORT LIKE FACILITIES

Sex offender on the run from a soft system that gets rorted by these criminals who work the system. I seriously hope he gets caught before offending, because he will seek out victims

updated today 01/03/14

Vic escapee arrested

March 01, 2014 1:41PM

A SEX offender who escaped from a Victorian facility for a second time has been arrested at a bus stop.

Sean Carmody-Coyle, 28, was caught at a bus stop in Ararat, southwest Victoria, just after 9am (AEDT) Saturday, police said.

He is expected to be charged with breaching his supervision order.

Carmody-Coyle was wearing two ankle bracelets designed to track his every movement.

Police say an alarm was triggered when he fled Corella Place overnight on Friday.

Corella Place, near Ararat, is a transitional facility for sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences.

Carmody-Coyle had been serving the second of a five-year court supervision order which dictated he live at the facility and adhere to a curfew.

He fled the facility last year but was found in a nearby paddock the next day.

A dangerous sex offender is on the run after escaping from a corrections facility near Ararat, west of Melbourne, early this morning.

Police say Sean Carmody-Coyle, who has an electronic tag, was last detected at 1am (local time) at the Corella Place facility.

It is the second time in less than a year he has gone missing from the facility, which houses dangerous sex offenders who have finished their sentences.

It is believed Carmody-Coyle, 28, managed to remove the electronic tag, which triggered an alert.

The ABC also believes the sex offender was returned to prison last year after breaching his order by absconding.

Police say he might be armed with knives and travelling on a mountain bike and have urged the public not to approach him.

Sean Carmody-Coyle has gone missing from the Ararat prison for the second time in less than a year.

Sean Carmody-Coyle has gone missing from the Ararat prison for the second time in less than a year.

Carmody-Coyle is Caucasian, 204 centimetres tall and thought to be wearing a black tracksuit.

In June last year he went missing from the facility during the night with another sex offender and was located 23 kilometres away the next afternoon.

There are about 35 residents at Corella Place. They have finished their sentences but are considered unacceptable risks to community.

Corella Place is a residential facility that is next door to the Ararat prison, the Hopkins Correctional Centre.

It is about two kilometres from the town centre.

Residents are housed in one, two and three-bedroom houses and have a strict curfew, but are taken on escorted trips to nearby towns and to Melbourne. Continue reading

Mt Isa police find body of missing teenager’s friend-But not Kyle Coleman!


Update 28/02/14

Missing teen’s friend takes own life

February 28, 2014

Unrelated searches are being conducted in Queensland for Kyle Coleman, 17, and 26-year-old German backpacker Daniel Dudzisz

Unrelated searches are being conducted in Queensland for Kyle Coleman, 17, and 26-year-old German backpacker Daniel Dudzisz

Police have stepped up their search for a missing Queensland teenager after a friend who was involved in the search took his own life.

Residents in the northwest town of Mount Isa have joined police in the search for 17-year-old Kyle Coleman, last seen about about 6am on Saturday when he left a house in Soldiers Hill for the three kilometre walk to his home in Parkside.

The body of a 21-year-old friend of Kyle’s was found on Wednesday.

The man was found in a house in Soldiers Hill and his death isn’t considered suspicious.

The search area includes Mount Isa city, Leichhardt River, Barkly Highway and a property near Camooweal, west of Mount Isa, which Kyle visited on Friday.

Meanwhile, the family of a Queensland man missing for more than three weeks have asked the public for help in locating him.

Michael Kime, aged 49, was last seen in Toowoomba on the afternoon of February 5 and has not contacted family and friends since then, police said on Friday.

Mr Kime is believed to be travelling in a white 1998 Toyota Hilux, registration 895RNA, and may be travelling in the Cairns area.

He is described as approximately 193 centimetres tall, Caucasian in appearance with a proportionate build, with short and receding grey hair, as well as a grey beard and moustache.

In a separate search, police continue to look for 26-year-old German backpacker Daniel Dudzisz in the state’s remote southwest.

Mr Dudzisz is believed to be walking between Windorah and Jundah, and was last seen on February 17.

Investigators said Mr Dudzisz was known to officers because he had been spotted walking through the outback during the past few months.

Volunteers search for missing teenager Kyle Coleman.

Volunteers search for missing teenager Kyle Coleman.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers.

Those seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

 

Mt Isa police find body of missing teenager’s friend
Updated 6pm 26/02/14
Related Story: Search expands for missing Mount Isa teen

Police in Mount Isa in north-west Queensland say they have found the body of a young man, but it is not that of missing 17-year-old Kyle Coleman.

Photo- Kyle Coleman was last seen on the morning of February 22 leaving a home in Soldiers Hill. (Qld Police Service)

Photo- Kyle Coleman was last seen on the morning of February 22 leaving a home in Soldiers Hill. (Qld Police Service)

Police say the body, found at an address in Mount Isa, is a 21-year-old man who was a friend of the missing teenager.

Earlier today, authorities expanded their search for Kyle Coleman, who has been missing for nearly a week.

He was last seen at 6:00am (AEST) on Saturday at a home at Soldiers Hill in the city.

Inspector Trevor Kidd says the search continues.

“It’s a non-suspicious death, unfortunately it’s a 21-year-old male at that location,” he said.

“We’ll prepare a report for the coroner in relation to that.

“We’re still certainly continuing with our investigation into the disappearance of Kyle, we’re continuing with our searching as we speak we have helicopter and fixed winged aircraft and people searching.

Earlier today, Inspector Kidd said search crews had scoured the city, including around the Leichhardt River bed.

“We have completed the majority of searching in Mount Isa,” he said.

“It is very stressful for his family and his friends – they have been a tremendous support.

“The community of Mount Isa have been very supportive.

“We have had large numbers of people volunteering to assist in searching.”

 

Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes child sex abuse trial- FOUND guilty 10/11 charges


3PM 07/04/14

UPDATE HUGHES FOUND GUILTY ON 10 OF 11 CHARGES

Sleep well in jail "Hey Dad" Robert Huges

Sleep well in jail “Hey Dad” Robert Hughes


Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has been found guilty of nine of 11 charges of sexually assaulting young girls in the 1980s.

A jury delivered its verdict after a trial lasting almost six weeks at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court.

Hughes had pleaded not guilty to the 11 charges that he either sexually or indecently assaulted five girls between 1985 and 1990.

The victims were aged between seven and 15 at the time.

Robert Hughes trial: Former Hey Dad! star guilty of one of final two indecency charges

Updated 6 minutes ago 08/04/14

Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has been found guilty of one of his remaining two indecency charges.

Hughes was found guilty on nine other charges of sexual and indecent assault of young girls dating back to the 1980s.

The jury returned to consider the remaining two charges Tuesday morning.

Hughes has now been found guilty on one charge, dating back to 1990, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other.

The 65-year-old sat quietly in the dock as the verdict was read out.

The trial lasted almost six weeks.

Earlier today, the judge dismissed an application from Hughes’s lawyer to dismiss the jury before it gave verdicts on the final two charges, due to the reporting of yesterday’s guilty verdicts.

“It is my respected submission that media reporting of the accused has been so extensive and pervasive that it is an impossibility to suggest jurors haven’t been exposed to it,” Greg Walsh told the court.

Crown Prosecutor Gina O’Rourke told the court the media reports were based on information the jury had already heard in court.

“This case has received significant media attention and it was inevitable that the nine counts were going to be reported,” she said.

“The media simply reported what the verdicts were and the outburst (by Hughes).

“The reports referred to evidence that the court and jury heard during the trial.”

In delivering his decision on the application, District Court Judge Peter Zahra noted the jury had been diligent and had listened to his instructions about avoiding media reporting of the case.

“The material that I have seen so far is regrettably what had been reported during the trial and I say regrettable because it has been inflammatory…I don’t propose to discharge the jury,” he said.

On Monday Hughes was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault.

The victims were aged between seven and 15 years old at the time.

District Court Judge Peter Zahra had asked the 12-person jury to deliver at least a majority decision of 11 on the remaining two counts of indecency.

Hughes had pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges of sexually or indecently assaulting five girls between 1985 and 1990.

As the verdicts were read out yesterday Hughes stood up in the dock and yelled: “I am innocent.”

Mr Walsh says it is anticipated the actor will appeal.

He told reporters outside the court that Hughes was a broken man and that he believed it was not a fair trial.

Hughes will be sentenced in May.

Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes exposed himself to young female co-star on set in the 1980s, court hears

February 24, 2014 3:33PM

FORMER Hey Dad! STAR Robert Hughes exposed himself to a young cast member on set at the same time other young girls complained about being woken in the night by his sexual advances, a jury has heard today.

Hughes, 64, has pleaded not guilty to a string of child sex offences, said to have occurred mainly in the mid-1980s.

Update 26/02/14

The boyfriend of an alleged victim of Robert Hughes said he would insist on taking her to bed and touch her

February 26, 2014

AN ALLEGED child victim of Hey Dad! Star Robert Hughes says he molested her at night and then gave her teddy back and told her she was a “good girl”.

Hughes in a publicity still for the popular Channel Seven show.

Hughes in a publicity still for the popular Channel Seven show.

The woman said she would often go to sleepovers at his Artarmon house, in Sydney’s north when the two families were neighbours.

He would walk into the bedroom at night while she slept on a mattress on the floor, she said.

“I remember Robert coming in and telling me to roll over then he would put my hand with his hand,” the victim told the jury on Wednesday.

He helped her masturbated him and rub his sperm on her genitals, she said.

The women who is now 35 said she started sleeping on her stomach and putting her hand underneath her after the incidents started to occur regularly.

On one occasion after it had happened again, Hughes allegedly gave the girl back her teddy bear and told her “good girl, go back to sleep”, she said.

The woman said the same incident happened a number of times but she did not remember exactly because of her young age.

She said she would start making excuses not to go to sleepovers.

After the girl told her parents at the age of seven or eight, they took her to a psychologist, sold their house and moved away from Hughes.

Hughes, 64, has pleaded not guilty in the District Court to 11 child sex offences involving five alleged victims.

The boyfriend of another complainant also gave evidence at his trial on Wednesday.

The man, who dated the girl from when she was 16, said she had first told him about the famous actor at a conversation in her kitchen at Christmas, 1986.

The girl’s parents were friends of the Hughes family and they would often come over to their house when she was a child, he said.

“She asked if I knew the actor from Hey Dad! Robert Hughes,” he said.

“She said late in the evenings when it was bedtime Robert would be fairly insistent to take the children by himself to bed.

“He would then put his hands under the sheets and under their private parts.

“After a short period of time he would leave the room and go downstairs where (the adults) where socialising.

“It had been brought up again on occasion when Robert’s face was on the TV or a reminder of it.”

But Hughes’s barrister Greg Walsh said the former boyfriend had said she told about the Hey Day! actor in 1986 but the show didn’t go to air until 1987.

The trial before Judge Peter Zahra continues.

A District Court jury has today heard five now adult women came forward after media reports alleging Hughes indecently assaulted a young girl who was also working on the popular TV program.

Crown prosecutor Gina O’Rourke has said in her opening address to the jury that Hughes told one of the girls “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep” after rubbing himself against her while she was at his Sydney home for a sleepover.

It is alleged another young girl was indecently touched while he was administering ear drops for an infection she had from getting them pierced.

Four of the complainants knew the actor, who was extradited from London to Sydney in December 2012 to face the charges, through their family or young friends.

The first woman who will give evidence in the trial expected to last up to six weeks previously enjoyed the company of the actor, who was a friend of her parents, but she “eventually came to dread his visits”, Ms O’Rourke said.

She will allege that around the time she was 14 Hughes went into her bedroom after a family dinner party, placed his hand under her doona and through her underwear.

The jury heard that at another party he returned to her room but his time she resisted as he “crouched” beside the bed and placed his fingers inside her underwear.

“The accused became quite rough, pushing back against her resistance,” Ms O’Rourke said.

The woman, now aged in her 40s, is expected to tell the jury she told her mother confronted Hughes about the assaults after she confided that she didn’t want to go on a proposed holiday the two families were taking together.

“You will hear [from the complainant’s mother] that the accused appeared not to care and did not respond to or deny the allegations,” Ms O’Rourke said.

She made a formal statement to police in 2010 after she saw a television program interviewing the woman who alleged Hughes exposed himself to her on the set of Hey Dad! by removing his pants.

Two other women are expected to give evidence that Hughes snuck into the bedroom where they were sleeping at his family home.

The jury heard one described being told to “turn around” while he rubbed against her before giving her a teddy bear and saying “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep.”

On another occasion in the same bedroom Hughes allegedly told her “she was a good girl” after she attempted, but failed, to stop his advances.

The court heard two of the girls made statements to police in the 1980s but Hughes denied the allegations.

Ms O’Rourke said the fourth complainant, a former family friend of the actor, will tell the jury she received “16 long stemmed red roses” with a card saying “Happy Birthday love RH” for her 16th birthday after Hughes told her he wanted to have sex with her but she had informed him she was only 15 and below the age of consent.

On an occasion in 1989 when he drove the then 16 year old home, the court heard Hughes asked her “when they were going to do it” and she said she didn’t want to.

“Well that’s your loss, you won’t find out how good I am,” she alleges Hughes told her.

The trial continues before Judge Peter Zahra.

Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes exposed himself to young female co-star on set in the 1980s

The Daily Telegraph
February 24, 2014 2:01PM

Court Hears

  • Five now-adult women set to give evidence against him
  • One claims he rubbed his erect penis against her face
  • Daughter of Hughes’ friends was ‘assaulted after party’
  • He ‘sent roses for 16th birthday to girl he wanted sex with’
  • 64-year-old was extradited to face charges. He denies them all

FORMER Hey Dad! STAR Robert Hughes exposed his penis to a young cast member on set at the same time other young girls complained about being woken in the night by his sexual advances, a jury has heard today.

Hughes, 64, has pleaded not guilty to a string of child sex offences, said to have occurred mainly in the mid-1980s.

A District Court jury has today heard five now adult women came forward after media reports alleging Hughes indecently assaulted a young girl who was also working on the popular TV program.

Crown prosecutor Gina O’Rourke has said in her opening address to the jury that Hughes told one of the girls “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep” after “masturbating” against her while she was at his Sydney home for a sleepover.

It is alleged another young girl had her face rubbed against Hughes’s nether regions while he was administering ear drops for an infection she had from getting them pierced.

Four of the complainants knew the actor, who was extradited from London to Sydney in December 2012 to face the charges, through their family or young friends.

The first woman who will give evidence in the trial expected to last up to six weeks previously enjoyed the company of the actor, who was a friend of her parents, but she “eventually came to dread his visits”, Ms O’Rourke said.

She will allege that around the time she was 14 Hughes went into her bedroom after a family dinner party, placed his hand under her doona and though her underwear before rubbing her vagina.

The jury heard that at another party he returned to her room but his time she resisted as he “crouched” beside the bed and placed his fingers inside her underwear.

“The accused became quite rough, pushing back against her resistance,” Ms O’Rourke said.

The woman, now aged in her 40s, is expected to tell the jury she told her mother confronted Hughes about the assaults after she confided that she didn’t want to go on a proposed holiday the two families were taking together.

“You will hear [from the complainant’s mother] that the accused appeared not to care and did not respond to or deny the allegations,” Ms O’Rourke said.

She made a formal statement to police in 2010 after she saw a television program interviewing the woman who alleged Hughes exposed himself to her on the set of Hey Dad! by removing his pants and “making his penis sway.”

Two other women are expected to give evidence that Hughes snuck into the bedroom where they were sleeping at his family home.

The jury heard one described being told to “turn around” while he put his penis against her and, afterwards, gave her a teddy bear and said “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep.”

On another occasion in the same bedroom Hughes allegedly told her “ she was a good girl” after she attempted, but failed, to stop his advances.

The court heard two of the girls made statements to police in the 1980s but Hughes denied the allegations.

Ms O’Rourke said the fourth complainant, a former family friend of the actor, will tell the jury she received “16 long stemmed red roses” with a card saying “Happy Birthday love RH” for her 16th birthday after Hughes told her he wanted to have sex with her but she had informed him she was only 15 and below the age of consent.

On an occasion in 1989 when he drove the then 16 year old home, the court heard Hughes asked her “when they were going to do it” and she said she didn’t want to.

“Well that’s your loss, you won’t find out how good I am,” she alleges Hughes told her.

The trial continues before Judge Peter Zahra.

 

 

Toowoomba teacher tells royal commission she couldn’t understand why molested children didn’t come forward


Here we go again, disgusting out of touch responses from officials where children were abused. Finger pointing, buck passing, protocol this, protocol that… WAKE THE HELL UP AUSTRALIA

This has to end, and we cannot continue to let this bullshit roll along until the perpetrators die or disappear (to abuse again)

I have much more to add in the morning but had to get this published tonight. It is disgusting beyond anything I have ever seen here.

GUTLESS SELF INTERESTED PROFESSIONALS ENTRUSTED TO TAKE CARE OF OUR CHILDREN AND KEEP THEM SAFE.

EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU MAKE ME SICK TO THE STOMACH. BLOODY EXCUSE AFTER EXCUSE, YOUR PATHETIC EXCUSES, CAREERS, SELF INTERESTS OR SECRETS WERE MORE IMPORTANT. YOU WILL BE EXPOSED HERE, THE TIME HAS COME.

update tonight 18/02/14 more poor excuses at the highest levels, a principal no less, had no guts to do something

Principal didn’t report paedophile teacher

February 18, 2014 7:38PM

A CATHOLIC principal didn’t trust or like a paedophile teacher, but never reported child sex abuse complaints against him to police because he did not want to compromise the bishop.

Terence Hayes, who currently works as a year seven teacher, was principal of a Queensland primary in 2007 and 2008 when serious child sex abuse complaints were made against teacher Gerard Byrnes.

But Mr Hayes says he never reported any allegations to police, as the school’s child protection manual and state laws required, because he was always told to go to his superiors first.

“In the Catholic system, principals are not autonomous. We are virtually middle managers. So as, per the advice that had been given to me, we were constantly told we can never do anything without going to the office and getting advice of our superiors,” he told a hearing of the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“Principals were of the understanding that CEO (Catholic Education Office) was the first port of call, and that the bishop must not be compromised.”

Counsel Assisting Andrew Naylor SC asked the former principal why the school’s child protection manual existed if it wasn’t being followed.

“That’s a question for my superiors, but we were told by our superiors to ‘come to us, we would help you, we are the first port of call, we work together’,” Mr Hayes replied.

Mr Hayes said after the first sex abuse complaints against Byrnes were made, he didn’t tell Byrnes that any action would be taken because he wanted to keep an eye on Byrnes secretly.

“I didn’t trust him. I didn’t like him. He was a very difficult person on staff. I didn’t enjoy the guy on staff,” Mr Hayes said.

But Byrnes wasn’t stood down as a student protection officer at the school up until he resigned in June 2008.

He was then rehired as a relief teacher one month later.

Mr Naylor asked if Mr Hayes had made his opinion about Byrnes known to superiors before he was rehired.

“I’m a very system-orientated person and it’s not for me to make a judgement on that information,” Mr Hayes said.

Mr Naylor then asked if he had felt comfortable about the CEO making a decision to let Byrnes come back to his school and teach children.

“If the system had said yes, I’m comfortable,” Mr Hayes replied.

Byrnes’ employment at the school only ceased when he was finally arrested by police in November 2008.

He pleaded guilty to 44 child sex abuse charges, including 10 of rape, and was sentenced to 10 years jail in 2010.

The hearing is set to continue on Wednesday.

Toowoomba teacher tells royal commission she couldn’t understand why molested children didn’t come forward

A former student protection officer at a Queensland primary school says she could not understand why students who had been sexually abused “didn’t have the courage to come forward”.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes molested 13 female students, all aged between nine and 10, in 2007 and 2008.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes molested 13 female students, all aged between nine and 10, in 2007 and 2008.

Catherine Long was a student protection officer at the Toowoomba primary school where teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes molested 13 female students, all aged between nine and 10, in 2007 and 2008.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is looking at why Byrnes was allowed to go on offending for more than a year after allegations were first made against him to the school.

Byrnes, the school’s child protection contact, pleaded guilty in 2010 to child sex offences, including rape. He carried out all but two of his crimes in the classroom.

Ms Long, who still teaches at the school,was today questioned by the commission in Brisbane as to why she did not refer one student’s complaint to police or authorities.

She said some of the relevant school protocols were difficult to understand and she was reluctant to believe her colleague was a paedophile.

“And I don’t get that our children, with all of this student protection and everything else that we have, didn’t have the courage to come forward,” she said.

Ms Long also told the hearing she believed referring the matter to police was the principal’s responsibility.

“I was there as the note-taker – he was in charge, not me,” she said.

Principal told but no action taken

One of the parents reported that his daughter’s accusations of abuse to the principal at the time, Terrence Hayes, as well as another teacher, but neither related the accusations to the police.

“The teacher wasn’t suspended, he remained in the class for the last term, and then a whole new school year in 2008 where, sadly, he went on to abuse more of the young girls,” said Monique Scattini, who legally represented the families of five of the abused girls.

Mr Hayes was charged with failing to tell police about the abuse complaints, but was later acquitted. He is expected to give evidence later this week.

No action was taken against Byrnes, a veteran teacher and father of eight children, until a parent of an abused girl went directly to the police.

“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those,” said Janette Dines, the chief executive of the commission.

“And in this case, the abuse not just continued but escalated after the first complaints were made.”

The parents of three of the victims fronted the commission today, with one mother saying the school’s refusal to act on allegations was “disgusting”.

Another mother of an abuse victim said she and other parents were ostracised by the school community after they complained about the abuse, and how the school had dealt with their concerns.

“The parents of the victims were made out to be the bad guys,” she said.

Francis Sullivan, the chief executive of the Church’s Truth Justice Healing Council, admits the case was mishandled.

“There’s no doubt that there would still be considerable anger at the Church over its handling [of this case],” he said.

“We’ve discussed the loss of trust about what’s occurring … [in a] close-knit community something like this really goes to the heart of relationships.”

The hearing is expected to last for five days.

Royal commission to probe handling of reports of abuse by Gerard Vincent Byrnes at Toowoomba School

By Emily Bourke

The child abuse royal commission will today turn its attention to how staff and Catholic Church officials at a Toowoomba primary school in south-east Queensland dealt with allegations of sexual offences against girls between 2007 and 2008.

In 2010, veteran teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes pleaded guilty to child sex offences committed against 13 girls and was sentenced to 10 years’ jail.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is taking a closer look at how the school dealt with the complaints.

Monique Scattini represented the families of five victims who took legal action and says the abuse could have been prevented.

“One of the parents went to the principal, reported allegations that his daughter had made to him,” Ms Scattini said.

“There was subsequently a meeting with the principal and another teacher … who conducted an interview with the young girl and her father.

“At the end of that meeting neither the principal nor the teacher reported the matter to police.

“The teacher wasn’t suspended, he remained in the class for the last term, and then a whole new school year in 2008 where, sadly, he went on to abuse more of the young girls.

“And it was absolutely preventable if anyone in Catholic Education had have done their job.

“I know it could have been prevented because when the teacher was arrested, he admitted to the offences.”

Mandatory reporting laws were put to the test, but the principal was found not guilty of failing to refer the allegation to police.

Ms Scattini says the response from the broader school community was also upsetting for the victims’ families.

Audio: Listen to Emily Bourke’s report for AM (AM)

“Sadly the school didn’t rally at all around the parents or the young girls who were the victims,” she said.

“Instead all the support was thrown behind the principal.

“A number of staff and parents in the school community were wearing badges and ribbons in support for him as they would attend school grounds or in-court hearings for both the criminal prosecution of the paedophile and the principal.

“So they [the victims] felt incredibly ostracised.”

‘Procedures not followed to the letter’

Royal commission chief executive Janette Dines says this particular case is striking, given that procedures were in place to deal with reports of abuse.

“Given that we have just finished looking at what some people would call historical abuse with the Salvation Army, this is quite confronting for a lot of people who might have thought that abuse was in the past,” Ms Dines said.

“What is also quite striking about this case is the fact is that the abuse against these girls, who were all aged eight to 10 at the time, occurred predominantly in the classroom in front of other children.

“And I think the other striking thing is the fact that this isn’t a case where there weren’t systems and procedures in place.

“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those.

“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those.”

Ms Dines says it is likely other students at the school were aware of the abuse.

“There is a sense that the children as a group were aware of what was going on,” she said.

“And whilst one of the girls had the courage to come forward, the sense of fear and powerlessness when it was obvious that she wasn’t believed and nothing happened is a big feature of the impact that that’s had on this group of children.”

Francis Sullivan, from the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, says the school community are still coming to terms with the events.

“What happened in this particular case is so alien to what a church is about, people carry that with them for a very long time,” Mr Sullivan said.

“When I visited Toowoomba recently and even went to the school and spoke to people in the staff room, it is quite clear that the experiences of 2007 and 2008 are still fresh.

“In the local community it’s extremely potent and fresh and so it should be.

“This was such a travesty, and such a tragedy and the trust that a community should put in a Catholic Church school and certainly in the Catholic Church was really eroded and the scars of that remain.”

Advocacy group initiates investigation of Family Court

Meanwhile, long-time advocate for child abuse victims, Hetty Johnston, is optimistic about the public hearing.

“They are getting to the crux of matters – they are taking no prisoners and the ramifications for this are not just going to affect Australia’s children and organisations, the threads of this lead right around the globe,” Ms Johnston said.

The royal commission’s terms of reference are limited to looking at institutions and how they have responded to child sexual abuse.

Ms Johnston says the inquiry should be expanded as it does not look into abuse that occurs in the family.

The founder of Bravehearts has told the ABC that the children’s advocacy group has received funding from a private benefactor to conduct its own investigation of the Family Court.

It’s now the legal process that causes so much damage to children and families who are already in a lot of trouble.

“It’s as though the shutters have come down, and they’ve said, ‘well, you can look in the churches, and you can go anywhere else but don’t you come looking in here’.

Bravehearts are determined to go looking there, and we are going to go looking there.

“We are going to do this investigation. We have some private funding to make that happen.”

Ms Johnston says the Family Court is an institution that cannot be ignored.

“We cannot let this opportunity go, where finally, as a nation, we are focusing on this most heinous of ways to offend against children, and not look at the modern-day issues that are facing our children,” she said.

“They are not the homes any more, or the institutions, the churches.

“It’s now the legal process that causes so much damage to children and families who are already in a lot of trouble.

“We need to get that right, and unless they do that, we’re going to be having this again in 15 years’ time.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/principal-barred-for-pedophile-inaction/story-e6frg6nf-1226790822074#

Principal barred for paedophile inaction

A QUEENSLAND Catholic primary school headmaster who failed to stop a pedophile teacher from repeatedly abusing his female students has been barred from serving as a principal.

Terence Michael Hayes admitted to a tribunal that he failed to protect students after receiving a complaint in 2007 that one of his teachers, Gerard Vincent Byrnes, had molested a member of his Year 4 class at the school in Toowoomba.

When Byrnes retired in mid-2008, Mr Hayes obtained approval from the Catholic Education Office to rehire the pedophile, then 58, as a casual teacher.

Byrnes was jailed in 2010 for committing 44 sexual offences against 13 girls – all aged nine and 10 – between January 2007 and November 2008.

Mr Hayes was the first person in Australia to be charged under laws requiring reporting to police of suspicions of child-sex abuse, but he was acquitted in 2009.

The Queensland College of Teachers has now taken action in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, obtaining orders that Mr Hayes undertake 50 hours of community service and that he never again act as a principal, acting principal or as a child protection contact.

He was also handed a two-year suspension from teaching, wholly suspended on account of his sporadic work history since his dismissal in December 2009.

He resumed teaching fulltime last year.

The September 2007 complaint received by Mr Hayes indicated that Byrnes had kissed a girl on the cheek, put his hand through a girl’s shirt and placed his hand on the upper leg of a girl.

Byrnes admitted to Mr Hayes that he had placed girls on his lap in class, spoken to girls in the playground, given lollies to students and allowed students to visit his class.

Mr Hayes reported the allegation to the Catholic Education Office, but Byrnes was not monitored or removed from his role as a student protection contact.

In written reasons published this month, QCAT said: “The young students who were the victims of Mr Byrnes’ conduct have suffered … serious and long-lasting consequences.

“Principals must be deterred from similar failings.”

Byrnes was jailed for 10 years in 2010, and will be eligible for parole in 2016.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/03/12/judges-dismiss-appeal-against-pedophile-toowoomba/

No appeal for pedophile teacher

Peter Hardwick | 12th March 2011

  • ·

ARGUABLY Toowoomba’s most despised individual, pedophile school teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes, has escaped serving any more time in jail.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane yesterday rejected an Attorney General’s appeal against the leniency of the sentence handed down in Toowoomba District Court to the 61-year-old who admitted 44 sexual offences against girl students aged just nine and 10.

Byrnes’ offences included the rape of six girls in his care and the ongoing grooming of one child.

Many of the offences had occurred in the classroom environment at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school and at times in front of other students.

Adding to the abhorrence of his crimes, Byrnes had at the time been the school’s designated Child Protection Officer.

He was sentenced to 10 years jail, a sentence then Attorney General Cameron Dick appealed claiming the penalty was inadequate for such serious offending in Brynes’ position as the victims’ class teacher.

Tony Moynihan SC, for the Attorney General’s appeal, argued the sentence was inadequate for a “gross breach of trust and abuse of power”.

The appeal sought to increase the jail term up to 15 years.

However, in a unanimous judgement brought down yesterday and published on the Courts Queensland website, Chief Justice Paul de Jersey, Justice John Muir and Justice Margaret White dismissed the appeal, finding the sentence handed down by Judge Sarah Bradley was “supported by the comparable sentences” handed down in the past for like cases.

The Court of Appeal said due leniency had to be applied when sentencing offenders who admitted their guilt.

The ruling quoted passages from a previous judgement, which stated:

“An offender who pleads guilty saves the community the cost of a trial.

“In some kinds of case, particularly offences involving young persons, the offender’s pleas of guilty avoids the serious harm that may be done by requiring the victim to describe yet again, and thus relive, their part in the conduct that is to be punished.”

Byrnes was declared at sentence a serious violent offender, meaning he has to serve at least 80% of his 10-year term.

However, having served almost two years pre-sentence custody by the time he was sentenced, he will be eligible for release from prison in 2016.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/year-sentence-sticks-for-teacher-who-molested-schoolgirls/story-e6freon6-1226019627777

10-year sentence sticks for teacher who molested schoolgirls

A TOOWOOMBA teacher who molested 13 schoolgirls escaped a higher sentence when the Court of Appeal today refused an application by the Attorney General to increase his 10 years jail time.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, SC, who appeared for the then Attorney General Cameron Dick, had asked Gerard Vincent Byrnes sentence be set aside and one of up to 15 years imposed.

Mr Moynihan said the 10-year sentence failed to reflect the gravity of the offence, it failed to act as a sufficient deterrent, and the sentencing judge gave too much weight to mitigating factors.

He said it was an abuse of power and the 10-year jail sentence did not adequately denounce the behaviour or mark deterrence.

However, Michael Byrne, QC, for Byrnes, said the 10-year sentence was adequate because there were substantial mitigating factors in his clients favour including his early plea and genuine remorse in writing an apology to his victims.

Mr Byrne said his client had led a blemish free life and been a productive member of the community.

In an unanimous judgment the Court of Appeal dismissed the Attorney General’s appeal.

Justice John Muir said the mitigating circumstances, in particular Byrnes’ early guilty plea and his admissions to police, when combined with comparable cases relied on by the Attorney General, an increase in sentence was not warranted.

He said comparable sentences used by Mr Byrne had supported a 10-year sentence.

The Chief Justice Paul de Jersey and Justice Margaret White agreed the appeal should be dismissed.

In the District Court in Toowoomba last year, Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 44 child-sex offences including maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, rape, and indecent dealing between 2007 and 2008.

Byrnes was classed as an automatic serious violent offender and he must serve eight years before he is eligible for parole.

He has already served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody and will be eligible for parole in 2016.

Byrnes, who had worked in Catholic schools in NSW and Queensland since 1970 as both teacher and principal, admitted abusing 13 girls aged between eight and ten, sometimes in front of his grade 4 class.

The court heard Byrnes had stopped abusing one girl as he mistakenly thought she had reported him but the girl who had actually reported him continued to be molested.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/qld/QCA/2011/40.html

Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal

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R v. Byrnes; ex parte A-G (Qld) [2011] QCA 40 (11 March 2011)

Last Updated: 14 March 2011

SUPREME COURT OF QUEENSLAND

CITATION: R v Byrnes; ex parte A-G (Qld) [2011] QCA 40
PARTIES: Rv

BYRNES, Gerard Vincent

(respondent)

EX PARTE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF QUEENSLAND

(appellant)

FILE NO/S: CA No 246 of 2010DC No 894 of 2009
DIVISION: Court of Appeal
PROCEEDING: Sentence Appeal by A-G (Qld)
ORIGINATING COURT: District Court at Toowoomba
DELIVERED ON: 11 March 2011
DELIVERED AT: Brisbane
HEARING DATE: 17 February 2011
JUDGES: Chief Justice and Muir and White JJASeparate reasons for judgment of each member of the Court, each concurring as to the order made
ORDER: Appeal dismissed
CATCHWORDS: CRIMINAL LAW – APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – APPEAL AGAINST SENTENCE – GROUNDS FOR INTERFERENCE – SENTENCE MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE OR INADEQUATE – where respondent pleaded guilty to serious violent offences of a sexual nature against complainants under 12 years of age – where respondent sentenced to 10 years imprisonment – where appellant submitted that sentence failed to give weight to the seriousness of offending, number of complainants and position of authority of the respondent – whether sentence manifestly inadequateCriminal Code 1899 (Qld), s 669A

Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld), s 161A, s 161B

AB v The Queen (1999) 198 CLR 111; [1999] HCA 46, cited

R v D [2003] QCA 88, distinguished

R v D’Arcy (2001) 122 A Crim R 268; [2001] QCA 325, considered

R v Ellis (1986) 6 NSWLR 603, cited

R v HAV [2009] QCA 259, followed

R v MBG & MBH [2009] QCA 252, distinguished

R v TS [2009] 2 Qd R 276; [2008] QCA 370, followed

R v ZA; ex parte A-G (Qld) [2009] QCA 249, distinguished

COUNSEL: A W Moynihan SC, with A D Anderson, for the appellantM J Byrne QC for the respondent
SOLICITORS: Director of Public Prosecutions (Queensland) for the appellantPeter Shields Lawyers for the respondent

[1] CHIEF JUSTICE: I have had the advantage of reading the reasons for judgment of Muir JA. I agree that the appeal should be dismissed, for those reasons.

[2] MUIR JA: Introduction The respondent pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, 10 counts of rape and 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 with the circumstance of aggravation that the complainant was under 12 years of age. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for each of the maintaining and rape offences and to seven years imprisonment for each of the indecent treatment offences. Each term of imprisonment was ordered to be served concurrently. By operation of ss 161A and 161B of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld), the respondent was convicted of serious violent offences with the consequence that he was required to serve 80 per cent of the head sentence of 10 years before becoming eligible for parole.

[3] The appellant Attorney-General appealed on the grounds that the sentences imposed were inadequate.

The circumstances of the offending

[4] The subject offences were committed over a 23 month period by the 58/59 year old respondent on 13 female students in his grade 4 class at a Toowoomba school. As well as being his victims’ teacher, the respondent was one of the school’s two child protection officers. As such, he was held out as a person whose assistance students could seek with safety in the event of inappropriate conduct. All of the offences were committed at the school and all but two were committed during the conduct of a class.

[5] The respondent’s modus operandi was to call the intended victim to the front of the class room and, when marking her work or asking questions of her, cause her to sit on his lap or stand in front of him. He would then engage in the offending activity. Three of the indecent dealing counts involved the rubbing of girls’ chests under their blouses. Another three involved the placement of the respondent’s hand up the girls’ skirts and rubbing their legs below their underwear. Two such counts involved licking the vaginal regions of two girls. One girl was kissed on the lips. Three of the offences involved the feeling of girls’ buttocks under their underwear. Another three involved rubbing of girls’ genitalia outside their underwear and 15 of the counts involved the rubbing of buttocks outside of the girls’ underwear. The licking incidents occurred when the girls, having been asked to remain behind during morning tea, were alone in the classroom with the respondent.

[6] The digital penetrations are the subject of counts 7, 8, 9 and 12 on the indictment. Counts 10 and 11 relate to the indecent treatment of this complainant and count six is the maintaining count. It was constituted by the conduct the subject of the four rape counts, the indecent treatment counts and other uncharged acts. The six remaining counts of rape occurred when the respondent digitally penetrated the vaginas of five other children on separate occasions.

[7] One girl complained to the school principal on 6 September 2007 that the respondent had put his hand inside her shirt and up her skirt and that she had seen him kiss another girl on the cheek. The principal wrote to the respondent informing him of these allegations and inviting him to respond. The respondent did so on 20 September 2007 acknowledging that he kissed a child on the cheek and that girls in his class often sat on his knee. He denied the other allegations. The respondent erroneously assumed that a particular girl was the informant, and ceased offending against her. He continued to offend against the other girls including the girl who had actually complained. He also interfered with two girls who had not previously been subjected to his indecent acts.

[8] In November 2008, the complainant with whom the respondent had been maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship complained to her mother and the police were informed. The respondent participated in interviews with police in relation to the offences. He initially denied allegations made by some children but admitted offending conduct which had not been the subject of allegations by a complainant. Six of the 10 counts of rape were based solely on the respondent’s admissions.

The Sentencing Remarks

[9] In her sentencing remarks the sentencing judge referred to the position of trust held by the respondent, the distress experienced by some of the girls and to the continuation of the offending conduct after the initial complaint. The sentencing judge accepted that the remorse expressed by the respondent was genuine and noted that the respondent’s convictions on a number of the charges, including some of the more serious ones, were based on his admissions. It was accepted that the respondent’s imprisonment would be served in protective custody and that this would make incarceration more onerous than would otherwise be the case. Her honour took into account the age of the respondent and his previous good character.

[10] In determining the respondent’s sentence the primary judge derived assistance from R v D’Arcy [2001] QCA 325 in which the head sentence, imposed after a trial of offences against four complainants, which included three counts of penile rape, was reduced on appeal to 10 years imprisonment. The primary judge concluded that the starting point for determining the sentence should be 12 to 14 years imprisonment. She then took into account the plea of guilty, the respondent’s co-operation with the police and the respondent’s admissions and the other matters previously mentioned and arrived at sentences of 10 years for the maintaining and rape offences.

The Appellant’s Contentions

[11] Counsel for the appellant submitted that the head sentence of 10 years imprisonment failed to give sufficient weight to the serious nature of the offending, general deterrence, denunciation and protection of the community. It was submitted that the starting point adopted by the primary judge would have been appropriate for an offence of maintaining a sexual relationship with one child or a small group of children but not for offending on the subject scale by a teacher over a long period in respect of his own students.

[12] Reliance was placed on R v D,[1] R v MBG & MBH,[2] R v ZA; ex parte A-G (Qld)[3] and R v D’Arcy.[4]

[13] R v D was quite a different type of case to the present. The 40 year old offender who had a lengthy criminal history, not including convictions for sexual offences, succeeded in having a 12 year term of imprisonment for the rape of a five year old complainant set aside as being manifestly excessive. A sentence of 10 years imprisonment was substituted. The court did not interfere with a three year term of imprisonment imposed for deprivation of liberty. The complainant’s mother noticed that the complainant was missing and that the offender was no longer sitting in his back yard where she had previously seen him. She ran to the offender’s house, entered it and found the complainant naked on a bed with the applicant leaning over her, touching her vaginal area while holding down her legs. The complainant told her mother that she had not responded to her mother’s calls because of threats made by the offender that he would punish her.

[14] On medical inspection, the complainant’s hymen was found to be bruised and haemorrhaging was evident. The injuries were thought to be more consistent with digital than penile penetration. There was evidence that the complainant’s behaviour had changed since the offence and she slept with her mother most nights. Her sleep was interrupted and she was wary and distrustful of strangers.

[15] In R v MBG & MBH a sentence of 10 and a half years imprisonment imposed on a mother and father who pleaded guilty to maintaining a sexual relationship with their seven to eight year old daughter was not disturbed. The offenders also pleaded guilty to two counts of raping their daughter, one count of attempting to do so; 10 counts of indecently treating her; the rape of her nine year old friend; three counts of indecently treating that friend and indecent treatment of that friend’s sister.

[16] The offending conduct in respect of the complainant daughter occurred on about 100 occasions and included: an attempt by the male applicant to insert his penis into the complainant’s vagina; the performance of oral sex on the complainant by her parents and vice versa; the watching of pornographic films together; the applicants having sexual intercourse in front of the complainant; the complainants rubbing an object in her mother’s vaginal area; the placing of the male applicant’s semi erect penis inside the leg opening of the complainant’s underwear; and the application of a vibrator to the complainant’s genitalia.

[17] It was submitted that this decision demonstrated that the subject sentences were too low as there were only four female complainants. That case, however, involves not only more serious sexual acts but the protracted abuse and corruption of a young child by her natural parents. The moral culpability of the offenders in MBG & MBH, to my mind, was substantially greater than that of the respondent, appalling though his behaviour was in both its quality and extent. The sentencing judge justly observed that the respondent’s conduct involved a protracted and gross beach of trust.

[18] In R v ZA; ex parte A-G the nine and a half year sentence imposed on the 48 year old offender with a history of sexual offending against children was increased on appeal to 10 years, thereby attracting a serious violent offence declaration. The respondent committed 34 offences over a 15 month period against six boys aged between 10 and 15 years. The offences included: two counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child; two counts of sodomy with a circumstance of aggravation; 21 counts of indecent treatment of a child with a circumstance of aggravation; seven counts of indecent treatment of a child and two counts of attempting to procure a young person for carnal knowledge. As well as sodomy, the respondent’s conduct included the insertion of a vibrator into a complainant’s anus; fellatio on and by complainants and the showing of pornographic material including films involving bestiality. Again, the offending conduct was more extreme and corrupting than in the present case and it was perpetrated by an offender with a prior history of sexual offending.

[19] The remaining case relied on by the appellant was R v D’Arcy, in which the appellant offended against four young complainants, three girls and one a boy who were the appellant’s pupils when he was the principal of a one teacher school. The offences came to light many years after the event by which time the applicant was in his sixties and had significant health problems. His sentence was reduced from 14 years imprisonment to 10 years. The offending conduct was singularly grave. The appellant digitally penetrated one female complainant and rubbed his exposed penis up and down her body from her navel to her genitalia. Another female complainant was subjected to painful penile rape culminating in ejaculation on three occasions.

Consideration

[20] Counsel for the respondent submitted that in D’Arcy the offending conduct was markedly more serious than the subject offending conduct and that there was a lack of a primary basis for mitigation. It was found in D’Arcy that the applicant exercised control over the children through fear and violence. There was a trial, no co-operation at the trial and an absence of remorse. The complainants were obliged to give evidence thus reliving their experiences. D’Arcy therefore does not support the appellant’s argument, even when regard is had to the far greater number of victims in the present case. In that regard it is relevant that the more serious offences were committed against relatively few complainants in the present case, making the circumstances more comparable with those in D’Arcy than mere reference to numbers would suggest.

[21] Counsel for the respondent submitted that the primary judge’s sentence was also supported by R v TS[5] and R v HAV.[6]

[22] In R v HAV the offender was sentenced after a trial to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 14 years for maintaining a sexual relationship with a child under 16 and rape. Concurrent terms of imprisonment of five years were imposed for six offences of indecent treatment of a child under 16. The primary judge found that the complainant was “to all intents and purposes” the offender’s step daughter and that the offender had sexually abused the complainant from when she was about seven until she was sixteen.

[23] The offending conduct was persistent and involved the offender’s masturbating in the presence of the complainant, masturbation of the offender by the complainant, cunnilingus, the dressing of the complainant in her mother’s underwear as an aid to the offender’s sexual gratification, penetration of the complainant’s anus with a finger and penile penetration of the complainant’s vagina. The abuse “had a significant impact” on the complainant and resulted in the breaking of the bond between mother and daughter.

[24] In R v TS the applicant, after guilty pleas, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, sodomy and rape of child who was his lineal descendant. Other sentences were imposed for offences of attempted rape and indecent treatment. On appeal, 12 year terms were substituted for the 20 year terms. The offences were committed over a six year period commencing when the victim was three years of age. The offences were “committed against the complainant at every available opportunity during the maintaining period” and continued until the complainant grew older and was able to resist the applicant’s advances. The conduct included vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse causing great pain and distress and forced fellatio. The period of maintaining in count 1 began when the complainant was under 10 and continued for six years.

[25] Both R v TS and R v HAV tend to support the subject sentence, as do R v MBG & MBH, R v ZA; ex parte A-G and R v D’Arcy. The submissions made on behalf of the appellant insufficiently acknowledged the combined effect of the respondent’s guilty pleas and his early admissions, without which some of the rape convictions would not have been secured.

[26] Of particular relevance for present purposes is the following passage from the reasons of Street CJ in R v Ellis,[7] quoted with approval by Hayne J in AB v The Queen:[8]

“This Court has said on a number of occasions that a plea of guilty will entitle a convicted person to an element of leniency in the sentence. The degree of leniency may vary according to the degree of inevitability of conviction as it may appear to the sentencing judge, but it is always a factor to which a greater or lesser degree of weight must be given.

When the conviction follows upon a plea of guilty, that itself is the result of a voluntary disclosure of guilt by the person concerned, a further element of leniency enters into the sentencing decision. Where it was unlikely that guilt would be discovered and established were it not for the disclosure by the person coming forward for sentence, then a considerable element of leniency should properly be extended by the sentencing judge. It is part of the policy of the criminal law to encourage a guilty person to come forward and disclose both the fact of an offence having been committed and confession of guilt of that offence.

The leniency that follows a confession of guilt in the form of a plea of guilty is a well recognised part of the body of principles that cover sentencing. Although less well recognised, because less frequently encountered, the disclosure of an otherwise unknown guilt of an offence merits a significant added element of leniency, the degree of which will vary according to the degree of likelihood of that guilt being discovered by the law enforcement authorities, as well as guilt being established against the person concerned.”

[27] Prior to quoting the above passage Hayne J made the following observations which are also of immediate relevance:

“Leniency is extended to both offenders for various reasons. By confessing, an offender may exhibit remorse or contrition. An offender who pleads guilty saves the community the cost of a trial. In some kinds of case, particularly offences involving young persons, the offender’s pleas of guilty avoids the serious harm that may be done by requiring the victim to describe yet again, and thus relive, their part in the conduct that is to be punished.”

Conclusion

[28] When regard is had to the mitigating factors taken into account by the primary judge and, in particular, the early guilty pleas and admissions, the comparable sentences relied on by counsel for the appellant do not support the imposition of higher sentences. On the other hand, the subject sentences are supported by the comparable sentences referred to by the respondent’s counsel. The appellant has failed to demonstrate any proper basis for the exercise by this Court of its discretion under s 669A(1) of the Criminal Code and I would order that the appeal be dismissed.

[29] WHITE JA: I have read the reasons for judgment of Muir JA and agree with his Honour for those reasons that the Attorney-General’s appeal should be dismissed.


[1] [2003] QCA 88.

[2] [2009] QCA 252.

[3] [2009] QCA 249.

[4] [2001] QCA 325; (2001) 122 A Crim R 268.

[5] [2008] QCA 370; [2009] 2 Qd R 276.

[6] [2009] QCA 259.

[7] (1986) 6 NSWLR 603 at 604.

[8] [1999] HCA 46; (1999) 198 CLR 111 at 155, 156.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/former-catholic-teacher-gerard-vincent-byrnes-gets-10-years-for-abuse-of-young-schoolgirls/story-e6freoof-1226007569524

Former Catholic teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes gets 10 years for abuse of young schoolgirls

A 10-year jail sentence for a Catholic teacher and child protection officer did not reflect the enormity of the grand scale of his sexual misconduct with 13 young schoolgirls, a court heard today.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, SC, was making submissions to the Court of Appeal in an effort to have Gerard Vincent Byrnes sentence set aside and one of up to 15 years imposed.

Mr Moynihan was appearing for the Attroney General, Cameron Dick, who had appealed the 10-year sentence on the grounds it failed to reflect the gravity of the offence, it failed to act as a sufficient deterrent, and the sentencing judge gave too much weight to mitigating factors.

In the District Court in Toowoomba last year, Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 44 child-sex offences including maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, rape and indecent dealing between 2007 and 2008.

Byrnes was classed as an automatic serious violent offender and will have to serve eight years before he is eligible for parole.

He has already served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody and will be eligible for parole in 2016.

Byrnes, who had worked in Catholic schools in NSW and Queensland since 1970 as both teacher and principal, admitted abusing 13 girls aged between eight and 10, sometimes in front of his grade 4 class.

The court heard Byrnes had stopped abusing one girl as he mistakenly thought she had reported him but the girl who had actually reported him continued to be molested.

In the Court of Appeal today, Mr Moynihan said Byrnes’ offences, which had devastated both the victims and their families, should have brought a sentence at the higher end of the 10 to 15 year range.

“The sentence does not reflect the enormity of his offending of sexual misdconduct on a grand scale involving 13 girls,” Mr Moynihan said.

He said Byrnes maintained a sexual relationsip with one girl, raped five others and indecently dealt with seven others.

Mr Moynihan said the offences extended over two years during which Byrnes was the school’s child protection officer.

He said it was an abuse of power and the 10-year jail sentence did not adequately denounce the behaviour or mark deterrence.

However, Michael Byrne, QC, for Byrnes, said the 10-year sentence was adequate because there were substantial mitigating factors in his client’s favour including his early plea and genuine remorse in writing an apology to his victims.

Mr Byrne said his client had led a blemish-free life and been a productive member of the community.

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment.  http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/02/17/court-hear-byrnes-appeal-toowoomba/

Court to hear rape sentence too lenient

17th February 2011

QUEENSLAND’S Court of Appeal will today hear legal argument that the sentence handed down to pedophile Toowoomba school teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes was too lenient.

Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty before Toowoomba District Court last year to 10 counts of rape, 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child, and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a child.

All 13 of his victims were girls aged nine or 10 and members of his Year 4 class at a Catholic primary school in Toowoomba.

The offences occurred in the class room environment in 2007 and 2008 at a time when Byrnes was the school’s designated Child Protection Officer.

He was sentenced on October 4 last year to 10 years jail of which he was ordered to serve eight years.

However, because he had already served 23 months in pre-sentence custody, Byrnes could be released from prison within six years of his sentence date.

Attorney General Cameron Dick, after taking legal advice, appealed the sentence on the grounds it was manifestly inadequate.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/queensland-attorney-general-to-appeal-child-rapist-gerard-vincent-byrnes-eight-year-term/story-e6freuyi-1225942286887

Queensland Attorney-General to appeal child rapist Gerard Vincent Byrnes’ eight-year term

  • From:AAP
  • October 22, 2010 2:11PM

THE Queensland government will appeal a 10-year sentence given to a staff member found guilty of the rape and sexual abuse of students in his care at a Toowoomba school.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty in April to 44 charges – 33 of indecent treatment of a child under 16, 10 counts of rape and one of maintaining an unlawful relationship with a child.

The incidents occurred while Byrnes was the child protection officer at a Toowoomba school from January 2007 to November 2008.

Byrnes was sentenced to serve eight years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Having served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody, he could have been released in 2016.

Attorney-General Cameron Dick announced today he would appeal the sentence.

“Today I have lodged an appeal in the Court of Appeal in Brisbane against the sentence imposed on Gerard Vincent Byrnes for the offences of rape, maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, and indecent treatment of a child under the age of 16,” Mr Dick said in a statement.

He said the grounds of the appeal are that the sentence fails to reflect the gravity of the offence, that it fails to act as a sufficient deterrent, and that the sentencing judge gave too much weight to factors of mitigation.

“I will not be making any further comment as the matter is now before the courts,” Mr Dick said.

The court will set the date for the appeal.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/04/3028981.htm

Teacher sentenced to jail for rape of students

By Sam Burgess

Updated 5 hours 28 minutes ago

A southern Queensland primary school teacher who raped and molested 13 of his students has been sentenced to at least eight years in jail.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12, 10 counts of rape and one of maintaining a sexual relationship with a student.

The incidents occurred while he was the child protection officer at a Toowoomba school from January 2007 to November 2008.

In the Toowoomba District Court today, Judge Sarah Bradley sentenced him to 10 years in jail.

He must serve at least 80 per cent of that time.

Appeal demanded

Queensland Opposition Deputy Leader Lawrence Springborg has called on Attorney-General Cameron Dick to appeal against the sentence.

He says the sentence is manifestly inadequate and clearly out of step with community expectations.

Mr Springborg says Byrnes will serve less than a year for each victim and the Attorney-General must appeal.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/04/3029060.htm?section=justin

Teacher’s rape sentence ‘manifestly inadequate’

By Chris O’Brien and Sam Burgess

Updated 1 hour 18 minutes ago

The Queensland Opposition has called on the Attorney-General to appeal the sentence for a Toowoomba teacher who raped and molested 13 students.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for 44 sex offences.

Byrnes must serve at least eight years, but with time already served he could be eligible for parole in just over six.

Opposition Justice spokesman Lawrence Springborg says the sentence is manifestly inadequate and Byrnes will serve less than a year for each victim.

“This sentence is clearly out of step with community expectations and the Attorney-General must appeal,” he said.

“I think we had the prosecutor arguing that there should be a starting point of about 18 years and no less than 14 years.

“Certainly if you look at this sentence a lot of Queenslanders would justifiably be shaking their head.

“What we need is some real serious reform of sentencing laws.”

The court heard Byrnes, who was also the school’s child protection officer, committed the offences after asking the female victims to come to the front of the class to sit on his lap.

He also molested the girls during lunch breaks.

The court heard Byrnes was quizzed by the school’s principal about inappropriate contact with pupils but denied the allegations and continued to commit acts, including digital rape, against the girls.

Toowoomba Catholic Bishop William Morris says he hopes the sentence will start to provide some closure for the victims and their families.

“Until the sentencing has happened, even though he pleaded guilty, and then they had to wait, and it’s been deferred and so on, I think this is one step in the process of hopefully getting normality back into people’s lives,” he said.

“[It's] a step along the way of the healing of the victims and their families.”

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/08/13/bishop-offers-to-meet-with-families/

Bishop to meet with families

Jim Campbell | 13th August 2010

THE families of two young victims of the horrific sexual abuse scandal at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school have supported the family of another victim who say they have been forced out of town.

The Chronicle ran a front page story in yesterday’s edition telling the family’s heart-breaking story.

The father of the young girl who was repeatedly raped by her teacher, Gerard Vincent Byrnes, explained the anguish his family had been put through and the lack of support they had been shown by the school.

A parent of another victim contacted The Chronicle yesterday to show support for the devastated family. “We understand your devastation and hope that you gain some strength from knowing there are people who are willing to stand side by side with you through the most challenging of times,” they wrote.

“The families involved have shown incredible courage and resilience in spite of ignorance and ‘blind faith’ being exhibited in a very public way by certain sections of the community.

“As a parent of one of the victims, we have also chosen to relocate to try and protect our family from unwanted exposure.”

Finally, they wrote: “The pain this one man has caused is unimaginable and will remain with us for the rest of our lives.”

Toowoomba Catholic Diocese leader Bishop William Morris also issued a statement in response to the family’s claims, saying the diocese had “maintained a constant flow of communication with the school community and has offered counselling and other pastoral support” over the past two years.

“Parents and the diocese place a great deal of trust in teachers to care for children under their supervision and the actions of Gerard Byrnes were a shocking betrayal of that trust,” Bishop Morris said.

“I can only begin to imagine the suffering which has been experienced by the victims and their families, including the one referred to in the Toowoomba Chronicle (yesterday).

“Although I of course would have preferred to have directly communicated with the victims and their families sooner, the diocese was unable to do so until April this year, due to not wanting to interfere in any way with the police investigation and subsequent criminal court proceedings.

“Gerard Byrnes’ guilty plea in the Toowoomba District Court in April meant the diocese was for the first time able to directly communicate with the victim’s parents, which I did so via a letter to each parent.

“I believed a letter to the victims offering a face-to-face meeting was a more respectful way of making contact, rather than an unannounced phone call.

“. . . I offered a face-to-face meeting and I indicated I would very much like this to occur so that I could apologise personally.”

Bishop Morris said that invitation remained open and he would particularly encourage the family who spoke out in The Chronicle to contact him.

He said he wrote to the families who had not yet pursued legal claims, inviting them to participate in the mediation process that will follow Bishop Morris’ admission of liability in July.

He also said the diocese had comprehensive procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and that at the beginning of 2010, it appointed a full-time Diocesan Student Protection Officer, who is working with Toowoomba Catholic Education personnel to “heighten their vigilance for child protection surveillance”.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/08/12/family-forced-leave-dity/

Family forced to leave city

Jim Campbell | 12th August 2010

THE family of a young girl who was repeatedly raped by her teacher at a Toowoomba primary school say they have been ostracised and forced out of the city they once loved.

The girl’s distraught father told The Chronicle his family had been so devastated by the horrific crimes against his daughter they were leaving Toowoomba to try to piece their lives back together.

Legal action is about to be launched on behalf of the family against the Catholic Church which has admitted liability for the numerous acts of sexual assault against children at the school.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, has pleaded guilty to 33 counts of sexually molesting children, 10 counts of raping children and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.

The offences were committed against 13 different girls in classes taught by the former Catholic primary school teacher between January, 2007, and September, 2008.

The father of the young girl who will now take his daughter to a new life remembers clearly the day he first learned of the horror she went through at just eight-years-old.

It was November, 2008, and it was his wife’s birthday.

The man received a phone call from a police officer and was asked to take his daughter to Toowoomba station for questioning.

“She was fully shocked by the police interview — after that she cried a lot,” the father remembered.

He said the ongoing trauma had put terrible strain on his family, his work and his relationship with his wife.

But despite what had happened, the man said he hadn’t received a single phone call from his daughter’s school, just one generalised letter offering counselling and a series of letters from the Catholic Church as legal proceedings progressed.

“To be honest, I expected a phone call from the school,” he said.

“I am angry and upset with the school and the Catholic Education (office) because they are responsible.

“That creature was the child protection officer and he did those things to all those kids.”

The family’s lawyer, Roger Singh, a partner at Shine Lawyers, said they deserved to be compensated for the horror they had been put through.

“The aim is to bring the church to account and that we will do,” he said.

Law firm Slater and Gordon is also pursuing legal action on behalf of five families of children who were assaulted.

The principal of the school at the time and two of his superiors were sacked in December last year as a result of the sex abuse scandal.

Byrnes is due to be sentenced on October 4.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/07/24/pedophile-Gerard-Vincent-byrnes-to-face-sentencing/

Pedophile Byrnes faces sentencing

Peter Hardwick | 24th July 2010

PEDOPHILE schoolteacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes will be sentenced in Toowoomba District Court on October 4.

Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty on April 14 to 10 counts of raping girls under 12, 33 counts of molesting girls under 12 and one of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.

The offences were committed against 13 different girls, all students of his at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school, between January, 2007, and September, 2008.

However, Judge Debra Richards adjourned sentence when a medical report surfaced claiming Byrnes might have the onset of dementia which could affect the penalty imposed.

Judge Richards ordered that a neurologist’s report be compiled and put before the court.

The delay caused even more angst for the families of the victims, many of whom had attended court that day in the hope that Byrnes’ final sentencing might give them some closure and the healing process commenced.

During a mention of the matter before Toowoomba District Court yesterday, Byrnes’ solicitor Nathan Bouchier told Judge Richards that all reports had been received and the matter could now be set down for sentence.

However, Mr Bouchier said counsel briefed in the matter, Mr Brad Farr, was unavailable until the October sittings of the District Court in Toowoomba and asked that sentence be adjourned to those sittings.

Crown prosecutor Shontelle Kenny asked that the sentence date be set as early as possible out of respect for the victims’ families.

Accepting that Mr Farr should be present to represent Byrnes, Judge Richards adjourned sentence to Monday, October 4.

 Delays frustrate victims’ families:Sentencing of paedophile adjourned again

Peter Hardwick.  The Chronicle.  Toowoomba, Qld.:Jun 5, 2010.  p. 5

THERE was further frustration for the families of the child victims of Gerard Vincent Byrnes yesterday with the pedophile school teacher’s sentence adjourned again in Toowoomba District Court. Byrnes, 61, has pleaded guilty to 33 counts of sexually molesting girls under

12 years of age, 10 counts of raping girls under 12, and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.

The offences were committed against 13 different girls in classes taught by the former Catholic primary school teacher between January, 2007, and September,2008.

Byrnes was the school’s designated child-protection officer at the time.

He was due to be sentenced in April, but that hearing was adjourned after his legal team produced a psychiatric report suggesting Byrnes might have the onset of dementia.

Judge Debra Richards adjourned sentence until June 18 so a neurologist could examine all the medical material and report back to the court.

However, during a call-over of matters before Toowoomba District Court yesterday, Judge Richards was told the neurologist’s report might not be available by June 18.Judge Richards therefore delisted the sentence and adjourned proceedings for mention back in the same court on June 25 when a new date for sentence was expected to be set.Byrnes was remanded in custody.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/church-warned-as-teacher-gerard-byrnes-admits-44-counts-of-child-sex-abuse/story-e6freuzr-1225853862863

Teacher Gerard Byrnes admits 44 counts of child sex abuse

  • From: The Australian
  • April 15, 2010 3:22AM
  • Teacher admits 44 sex abuse charges
  • More victims expected to come forward
  • Parents demand church hold inquiry

POLICE have warned the Catholic Church to expect more cases of child sex abuse to emerge from six schools that employed a veteran teacher who yesterday pleaded guilty to abusing 13 schoolgirls.

Former Christian brother Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, admitted to 44 sex abuse charges concerning students at a Toowoomba primary school, where he also served as the child protection officer.

Among them were 10 counts of raping a child under 12.

In court documents, Queensland police said they expected more victims to come forward now that Byrnes, who taught at six other Catholic schools in Sydney and Queensland, had been publicly identified.

“It is unknown how many other complainant children there are in the community as the defendant has had a long, 39-year teaching career,” police investigators said in an affidavit.

“Police expect that once this matter is before the court and the defendant is later recognised through the media, that further, more historical complainants will present with allegations of abuse of a similar nature as those of the current complainant children.”

Parents of some of the Toowoomba victims – all girls – yesterday demanded an open inquiry by the church into the past behaviour of the father of eight.

“It is what we have wanted all along, for the church to be open and honest about this person and his history as a teacher and principal,” one mother told The Australian.

“There are a lot of questions about his past. The church already failed to act when the first victim came to them, and more children were abused.”

Toowoomba bishop William Morris, who last year sacked the primary school’s principal and two senior Catholic Education officials for failing to act on a complaint by one of the first victims, said he would now inform his counterparts in the three other dioceses where Byrnes had taught, “to ensure they are fully informed in relation to this matter”.

Byrnes taught at Sydney’s St Pius X secondary school between 1970 and 1976, before moving to the Gold Coast, where he taught at Aquinas Secondary School.

He was then made deputy principal at Our Lady College, Longreach, before becoming headmaster in 1992 at St Joseph’s Primary School, Tara, and in 1994 being appointed headmaster at St Mary’s Primary School in Charleville.

In 1997, he went back to teaching at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Toowoomba before moving in 2001 to the school, which cannot be named, where he committed the offences.

A psychiatric assessment, conducted soon after Byrnes’s arrest in November 2008, described the once-popular teacher as having no “reaction of distress or of personal concern” about the allegations against him.

Byrnes’s sentencing for the sex offences was yesterday adjourned for a neurological assessment amid conflicting psychologists’ reports. One claimed he showed onset of dementia.

Last year, the principal of the Toowoomba school became the first person in Australia, and among only a handful worldwide, to be charged under laws mandating the reporting to police of any suspicions of sexual abuse involving a child.

Police launched the investigation into the school’s handling of the case after a series of reports by The Australian revealed the principal had failed to act on complaints in September 2007 from parents of a nine-year-old child about her abuse.

At the time there were other complaints from staff about the teacher’s behaviour, including his growing notoriety for enticing children to sit on his lap with the offer of lollies.

The principal later admitted it was then that he “reasonably suspected” the teacher had sexually abused at least one child and that he failed to tell police.

Read more on Gerard Byrne’s crimes at The Australian.

 

Comments out of whack problem


Hi folks just a quickie to explain what happened to the comments and replies appearing out-of-order.

A WordPress engineer wrote the following reply to my queries. New threads etc.  should be good from here on in.

Sorry for the confusion, it seems me trying to make things simpler made then more confusing!

Hi Robbo,

The nesting is currently working as seen here:
https://cloudup.com/cqXId7o6tIW
However you will see that it is only 3 levels deep (which it was set at before). So, what happened was that users could not reply to comments after that point. They could only add a new comment, and they could not reply to a comment that was already 3 levels deep.
So currently it looks a bit confusing as users were only able to add new comments underneath from here:
https://cloudup.com/cfXzSWRRAMA
This just adds new comments on the 1st level making it look like a straight line with no indents, but as seen in the first screenshot the indents are pretty obvious. Since I changed it to 10 nested levels, it shouldn’t be that bad from this point forward. Unfortunately, I can’t change this for the posts that were already published because there would be no way to tell which comment your readers wanted to reply to.

Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Child bride, 12, was married in her father’s house-here in Australia


This is just not on and is outrageous, a little girl only 12 years old married off to a 26-year-old. It is more common than we think and it HAS TO STOP NOW. This is criminal, and I do not care if you are a Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist or from Mars. This is AUSTRALIA and it is illegal in this country full stop. Protecting the children is paramount to anything else whether it be religious beliefs or so-called wishes of a child or parent! A bloody child wishing to get married, it’s ridiculous to entertain the thought

UPDATE 13/02/14

Father of 12-year-old child bride charged, but thinks has ‘done nothing wrong’

THE father of the 12-year-old girl at the centre of the Islamic marriage scandal appeared before a court yesterday charged with procuring his young daughter for sex.

The 61-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, “is of the belief he has done nothing wrong,” Raymond Terrace Local Court was told.

The court also heard the man had a disregard for NSW laws and believed his daughter was “in love” with her 26-year-old “husband”.

THE SHAME OF OUR CHILD BRIDE EPIDEMIC

MOSQUE SACKS IMAM WHO ‘MARRIED’ COUPLE

O’FARRELL WELCOMES ARREST OVER ‘MARRIAGE’

Magistrate Caleb Franklin rejected the man’s bail application yesterday, citing a strong prosecution case and the likelihood of a jail term if he was convicted.

Police charged the father with procuring a child for unlawful sexual activity and being an accessory before the fact to someone having sexual intercourse with a child.

“The defendant has a disregard for the laws of this state,” Mr Franklin said in denying the man bail.

The man’s Legal Aid solicitor said her client, an osteoarthritis sufferer, would find time in custody “very difficult”.

The court heard the man had co-operated with detectives in interviews but disputed much of the police facts including the allegations he facilitated the marriage.

His solicitor said her client claimed his daughter was a “very, very mature strong-willed woman” and he thought the man was about 18-19.

“He said ‘they’re in love and it’s a strong love’ and at this point he’s trying to be supportive of his children,” she said.

Charge sheets tendered in court allege the girl’s father procured her for sexual activity with her future “husband” from when the couple met at a Hunter Valley mosque in November last year until they were allegedly married on January 12.

Outside court, it emerged the girl wrote on a blog site her father told her to wear a hijab to school when she was 11.

“When I was 11 my Dad made the decision I should wear hijab to school,” she wrote.

“To be honest I didn’t want to wear hijab to school. I was afraid of what all the other kids would say or think about me. But when I went to school the next day it wasn’t that bad.”

Charges against the girl’s father followed the alleged wedding of the man’s then 12-year-old daughter in their family living room to a 26-year-old Lebanese man last month.

The girl’s “husband” is in custody charged with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with a child.

Imam Riaz Tasawar from the Mayfield Mosque, who “married” the 12-year-old girl to the 26-year-old man.

Imam Riaz Tasawar from the Mayfield Mosque, who “married” the 12-year-old girl to the 26-year-old man.

The imam who allegedly performed the ceremony, Riaz Tasawar, 35, was charged with solemnising a marriage without authority and will face court in April.

UPDATE 11/02/14

Police have arrested and charged an imam accused of conducting the marriage of a 12-year-old girl in the Hunter Valley this year.

Detectives from the Child Abuse Squad arrested the 35-year-old Pakistan-born man outside Parramatta police station about 4.30pm on Monday afternoon, police said.

They charged him with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person.

Police will allege he agreed to conduct a ceremony after he was approached by a 26-year-old man, who was eager to marry the girl.

The 26-year-old, a Lebanese man who is living in Australia on a student visa, has   with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with an underage child.

He is in custody and is expected to make an application for bail before Burwood Local Court on Wednesday.

It had been reported the imam had gone to ground.

“He was located outside the police station,” a police spokesman said.

“It wasn’t arrest by appointment or anything like that, just that we happened to find him outside the police station.”

The spokesman said the imam was not related to the girl.

The imam was released on strict conditional bail and is expected to appear before Parramatta Local Court on April 2.

The girl’s father needs his head read, he talks below, and then further down, how this crime was discovered.

THE Muslim convert father of the 12-year-old girl at the centre of a child sex case following her “marriage” to a 26-year-old foreigner confessed his unhappiness at their union, but said “it was not my decision” WTF ??? IS this father kidding himself? How could he allow this to happen

But the fifth-generation Australian man, who allowed the pair to be married by an imam in his Hunter Valley home on January 12, now says he fears she is going to “die” from a broken heart.

The man, 26, is behind bars tonight after being arrested by the Sex Crime Command's Child Abuse Squad after his marriage to a 12-year-old girl was discovered.

The man, 26, is behind bars tonight after being arrested by the Sex Crime Command’s Child Abuse Squad after his marriage to a 12-year-old girl was discovered.

He also addressed public outrage on the case following the 26-year-old Lebanese man’s arrest on Thursday, saying he might “cop a little bit of abuse off people but I will have to cope with that”.

“She was crying like I have never heard before, they were telling her she couldn’t see (the man) today or tomorrow or possibly forever,’’ he said. “She’s being restrained against her will in foster care.

“There’s nothing I can do at the moment, I’ve got the feeling she might die because she’s so hurt by all of this.”

The pair met at a Hunter Valley mosque late last year after the 26-year-old came to Australia to study at a nearby university.

He approached the mosque about marrying the girl but the Newcastle Muslim Association president Bikash “Shahriar” Paul said he was turned away because it was illegal and “wrong”.

He then approached the girl’s father — who converted to Islam about 18 years ago following a battle with drugs, gambling and alcohol abuse — through an intermediary, who told him of the man’s intentions.

He initially refused but agreed to let him come to his house to meet his daughter.

He said it was almost over before it began when she found out he was 26, but she changed her mind.

“She was saying she wanted to get married, I said before there was going to be problems because he was from Lebanon,’’ the father said. “I told him to go back to Lebanon, not nastily.”

The girl’s father said his initial concerns were more religiously guided than the man’s or his daughter’s ages.

However, he said the only way they could be in any type of relationship, let alone in the same room un-chaperoned, under “my interpretation of the Koran” was if they were married.

“My daughter was not going to change her mind, I couldn’t talk her out of it,’’ he said.

“Him being 26 was not a big concern to me because I was not marrying him. I was not happy with it but it was not my decision.”

He said the couple moved to western Sydney after the marriage. He said they tried to enrol his daughter at a local high school but were told to go to Centrelink to ascertain her guardianship.

The father said a social worker at Centrelink raised the alarm before police and the Department of Community Services intervened.

The man was refused bail at Burwood Local Court on Friday after being charged by Child Abuse Squad detectives with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child.

Her father, who was interviewed and released without charge, said he knew people would ask how could he let his 12-year-old daughter live with an older man, let alone marry him, but he didn’t “want to stop her happiness”.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward said on Friday she was horrified by the case.

“In this country, little girls have rights and in particular they have the right to a childhood free from this kind of abuse,” she said

Alleged underage marriage uncovered when a 12-year-old child bride and husband, 26, tried to apply for spousal benefits

The Daily Telegraph
February 08, 2014

AN alleged under-age marriage was uncovered this week when a 12-year-old child bride and her 26-year-old husband tried to apply for spousal benefits, according to government sources.

Centrelink sources say the girl was removed from the home she shared with her 26-year-old “husband” hours after enquiring about what support would be available to a spousal visa holder on Wednesday morning.

Concerns also emerged after the man attempted to enrol the girl in a Western Sydney high school.

Newcastle Muslim Association president Bikash “Shahriar” Paul said the accused man was an “occasional” worshipper at a mosque in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney, where he met the girl.

Mr Paul said he believed the man was originally from Lebanon but had moved to the Hunter Region to study computers at a nearby university about nine months ago.

It’s understood police will allege the marriage took place in a backyard in Sydney’s west on January 11.

After hearing reports about the charges yesterday morning on radio Mr Paul said he called the girl’s father who confirmed “it’s my girl”.

He said the girl’s father “was aware” of the marriage and that police had contacted him on Thursday but did not elaborate further.

The man was arrested by detectives from the Child Abuse Squad and charged with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child.

He was denied bail at Burwood court yesterday and will reappear next Wednesday.

Shocked residents in the western Sydney suburb where the couple lived expressed anger about the alleged offences.

One neighbour said before they moved in they had mistakenly gone to the wrong house for an inspection. She said she saw the girl wearing a pink hijab and her partner apologised for the intrusion.

A leading Islamic health services counsellor has warned that hundreds of children as young as eleven are being sent overseas to be married after being “shopped” on Facebook.

Ms Sharobeem, the Director of the Immigrant Women’s Health Services, said children were involved in illegal marriages both in Australia and overseas: “It’s far more prevalent and well-known than people think.”

Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward conceded the problem was more widespread than the case identified yesterday, saying her department had heard of “significant numbers of unlawful, unregistered marriages in NSW, particularly in south-west Sydney, western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.”

“In this country, little girls have rights and in particular they have the right to a childhood free from this kind of abuse,” she said.

The legal marrying age in Australia is 18 unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18.

Schapelle Corby released on Parole-$$$$$$$$$$$


9 years and she is out 11am 10/02/14

1.29pm: THE RACE FOR THE CORBY EXCLUSIVE

CHANNEL Seven is believed to have won the race to snare the first interview with Schapelle Corby, with veteran Mike Willessee in Bali to celebrate the former jailbird’s flight to freedom.

The convicted drug smuggler’s mother Rosleigh allowed Seven cameras exclusive access to film her reaction as she watched from Brisbane.

The vision is thought to be a part of a multi-faceted media deal worth in excess of $3 million, including the first interview to air on Seven’s Sunday Night program, with other stories to roll out across the Seven Media Group’s publishing assets including New Idea magazine.

The illustration below show the time Corby spent in jail. When the details of her massive media deal is exposed I will show how crime does pay per year, month etc.

ok an update on the deal of 3 million, to put it into perspective

If the 3 million dollars bandied around for the exclusive Channel 7 deal is about right, my maths say she got 750 dollars for every gram of weed x 4000 grams (caught with 4KG odd?!) she trafficked. I would not know what weed sells for these days, but she has made huge profit even if it took 9 years.

Or $355,000 for each year in jail. That is for a convicted criminal, not compo for wrongful arrest or jail…staggering isn’t it

Let me know of my sums are wrong or what weed sells for on the street in grams or whatever. When I was young it was a foil or bag, not so much the weight.

Corby jail time

Corby jail time

 

This will be a circus, but it is up for discussion folks


Schapelle Corby‘s parole application has been approved by Indonesia‘s justice minister.

Amir Syamsuddin held a press conference in Jakarta where he spoke about the prisoner applications he has been reviewing, including Corby’s.

The former Gold Coast beauty student was jailed in Bali in 2005 after authorities found 4.1 kilograms of marijuana in her bodyboard bag at Denpasar airport the year before.

Update 9pm 07/02/14

Key points from today

  • Corby has been granted parole
  • She could be released from jail as early as Monday afternoon (local time)
  • Prison authorities have to receive original documentation from Indonesia’s justice minister before the Australian can be freed
  • Under Indonesia’s criminal procedure code, the period of parole lasts for the remainder of a person’s prison term, plus an additional year, under which they remain under the supervision of authorities

Details of Corby’s parole conditions have also been released.

During her parole time, she will have to report to her parole officer regularly. Parole will be revoked if:

1. She commits a crime
2. She is accused of committing a crime
3. Causes discomfort to society
4. Fails to report to her parole officer three times in a row
5. Fails to report a change of address
6. Fails to follow or obey programs organised by her parole officer

The statement goes on to say that Corby is not the only foreign prisoner who was granted parole by the justice ministry.

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Our Schapelle: a smuggler for all seasons

By Lauren Rosewarne

Posted Thu 6 Feb 2014

The Schapelle Corby story resonates not just because she’s white with big and bewildered blue eyes, but because she represents an Australian caricature that’s loved and loathed in equal measure, writes Lauren Rosewarne.

In marketing it’s referred to as “cut through”: collating just the right elements to set your advertisement apart from the throng. A commercial that gets noticed, spoken about, remembered even in the most saturated of marketplaces.

In news media, few people would be as crude as to use a term like cut through. The very same thing, of course, transpires. In a sea of worthy, of interesting, of important current affairs items, some manage to strike resonance with the masses and others fall to the wayside.

The Schapelle Corby tale is one such example.

Long before Channel Nine got their mitts on it, the story had all the makings of a telemovie. A fresh-faced, doe-eyed beauty student protagonist with a first name that would long hold its own. There was Mercedes – the sister, the shrieker – taking that well-worn route of consciousness-raising by posing for Ralph. There were the drug allegations against her dad, the potentially shonky baggage handler. For those with a penchant for props, there was the infamous boogie board bag.

The Schapelle story was built for the small screen.

And the small screen – and, in fact, the news media more broadly – latched onto it. And held on. Tightly. For nearly 10 very long years.

On one hand I’m not sure that the extensive media coverage of a story like this or, in fact like Lindy Chamberlain or Madeleine McCann, serve as the best indicator of how much the public care. In many cases, we simply consume the media we are given. We know about Kerobokan, for example, about Azaria’s matinee jacket and enough about Praia da Luz to fill a guidebook simply because we’re educated, because we’re paying attention to the news and because the crime beat always gets disproportionate coverage.

That said, audiences aren’t passive dupes. We don’t merely swallow every tale offered up, and we couldn’t possibly know as many lurid details as most of us do without us paying attention. We’ve been partaking of this soap opera because it, apparently, strikes a chord.

So why? Why, when so little sympathy is conjured for the other Australian drug smugglers populating Indonesia jail cells, have we maintained such an interest in Schapelle? Why Schapelle and not Renae Lawrence? Why Schapelle and not Scott Rush?

She’s white, she’s pretty-ish, she’s female. All vital for the visual medium of TV. Equally, I daresay Bangkok Hilton still holds a place in the Australian imaginary. (Thailand, Indonesia, same thing, same thing).

My suspicion, however, is that it’s really all about Schapelle. That it’s Schapelle not just because she’s white, not just because she’s got those big and bewildered blue eyes, but because she’s an Australian caricature. A caricature that’s loved and loathed in equal measure.

Lots of Australia go to Bali for holidays, for hair braiding, for cheap Singha. These are the folks whose voices slice through Ngurah Rai like the proverbial hot knife through butter. These are the Australians who, apparently, are widely loathed abroad for sounding just like Steve Irwin, for donning vast quantities of Southern Cross apparel, for their tendency to Oi-Oi-Oi in packs.

We know this image. And for some, rather than it being a source of cringing or embarrassment, it’s simply one of familiarity; I had a boogie board bag the last time I went to Kuta, it could have been me! For many, Schapelle is recognised simply, and sadly, as just a tragically unlucky white girl, treated harshly by those Muslims with their incomprehensible legal system and the sketchy lawmakers.

Schapelle, however, caters to a whole other market too. Let us not forget that that Garuda flight full of Aussies are enduringly the butt of jokes and vitriol. Here’s Schapelle with her Bold and the Beautiful name and her bogan fish-and-chip shop family. Perhaps calling it schadenfreude is a step too far, but her consideration as a sympathetic figure is far from universal. To many, in fact, Schapelle’s just the ocker, the Aussie chav. She’s the fool – perhaps a sweetly naïve one – who got caught doing a really stupid thing in a country renowned for a zero tolerance drug police. She’s the idiot who let her less-than-savvy family make the whole thing worse by letting them front the press.

Schapelle’s release is imminent. The telemovie airs next week. There’s a couple more years before she’s allowed back on our shores, and thus inevitably many news bulletins to come documenting her parole under Mercedes’ wing. Probably not as gruelling as being locked up in Kerobokan, but let’s not pretend this hasn’t been a long road for us too.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne is a senior lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. View her full profile here.

Schapelle Corby should be sent home to Australia as soon as possible, says Bill Shorten

Latika Bourke

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Schapelle Corby should be sent home to Australia “as soon as possible”.

The former Gold Coast beauty student was jailed in Bali in 2005 after authorities found 4.1 kilograms of marijuana in her boogie board bag at Denpasar airport the year before.

Corby will know tomorrow if she will be released from the Indonesian jail where she has spent the last nine years.

Asked whether Corby should be allowed to profit from her story if she is granted parole, as is being speculated, Mr Shorten defended the Australian.

“I think that Schapelle Corby – I would like to see her come back to Australia,” he said.

However, he says he is not fully across the details of her case.

“I don’t know all the ins and outs of what she has done and hasn’t done, but what I do know is that she has spent a long time in an Indonesian jail,” he said.

“Again, without taking sides about the merits of her case, I would like to see that woman back in Australia as soon as possible and that’s what matters to me.”

When pressed again about whether or not Corby should make money from her story, Mr Shorten defended her against the speculation.

“Before we start getting into a debate about whether or not she should profit about her story, she’s been locked up in an Indonesian jail for a very long time,” he said.

“If people think that’s somehow some clever strategy for her to get a windfall gain now, I don’t think anyone else would be about repeating that.

“So I’m not about to start kicking her, I think the issue is, whatever has happened in the merits of her case, I’d like to see her come home.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday responded to reports of Corby’s parole decision, saying it was “ultimately a matter for the Indonesian justice system”.

“Generally speaking, the less said about consular cases the better, so let’s see what the system produces,” he said.

Schapelle Corby Pictures

Schapelle Corby Pictures

Schapelle Corby: Drug claims, media circus and the family saga that gripped a nation

Updated 19 minutes ago

In October 2004, aspiring Gold Coast beautician Schapelle Corby was arrested in Bali after the discovery of marijuana in her bodyboard bag.

She proclaimed her innocence, saying the drugs weren’t hers.

Seven months later, in May 2005, the 27-year-old was convicted of trying to smuggle marijuana into Indonesia. She was jailed for 20 years.

Perhaps not since Lindy Chamberlain has a legal saga gripped Australia like Schapelle Corby’s arrest and conviction.

It began on October 8 2004, when an overseas holiday adventure turned disastrously bad.

Schapelle Corby flew into Bali with friends and family.

But Bali Customs officials found more than four kilograms of marijuana in her bodyboard bag.

Corby claimed to be innocent, saying the drugs were planted.

“I didn’t put it there. I didn’t know what it contained,” she later testified in court.

Emotive trial became a media circus as family stole the show

In Indonesia it was just another drugs case, but a young Queenslander in desperate need in a foreign land captivated Australia’s media and public.

At one stage as she was led into court surrounded by police and media she pleaded: “Help me! Help me Australia!”.

Was she the unwitting victim of a drug-trafficking ring, perhaps involving crooked Australian Customs officers?

Corby told the media: “I shouldn’t be here. So I’m just trying to be strong and I’m just lucky that I’ve got really good family and friends to help me get through.”

Australian talkback radio went into meltdown.

Then-prime minister John Howard said: “We will do everything that we are properly and reasonably asked to do to see that any relevant evidence is presented.”

But seven months after the drugs were discovered, and after a highly charged defence, a court found her guilty.

Her mother Rosleigh Rose screamed in court: “Schapelle you will come home! Our government will bring you home!”

Outside, her sister Mercedes Corby could barely restrain herself, screaming: “I don’t even know why we had a bloody trial! They didn’t take any of our witnesses into account!”.

Cousin dished dirt on father’s alleged drug dealing

In the years since then, appeals and legal manoeuvring failed to free Corby, but her sentence has been progressively reduced, partly because of her increasingly erratic behaviour, self-confessed depression, and a stint in hospital.

Her father Michael Corby senior died of cancer, but allegations have emerged that he had been involved in trading marijuana for decades.

In 2008 Andrew Trembath, one of Michael Corby’s cousins, spoke to Lateline.

“Honestly, I don’t think Schapelle would have known any different, you know, because she would have been around drugs all her life, ” Mr Trembath said.

“Michael used to be in and out of trouble with dope and, you know, over the years I can remember some hell of a big blues with his parents.”

Mr Trembath said Corby senior was not just a small-time dealer, but was involved in moving large amounts of marijuana throughout northern Queensland.

“I was in the Kooyong Hotel [in Mackay] having a few beers and Michael walked in,” he said.

“He approached me and we went and sat down and he said to me basically straight out, he said, ‘Do you want to earn 80 grand?’.

“I said, ’80 grand? What have I got to do, go and kill somebody for it?’. And he said, ‘No, no.’ He said, ‘Get you to take a boat up to see the bay and pick up a lot of marijuana and bring it back down to Mackay – and you’ll get 80 grand for it.’.

“Well at the time I thought, well, 80 grand, I could do with it, but if I got caught, 10 years in jail at eight grand a year when you got three little kids just didn’t sum up. So I refused.”

Nearly nine years have passed since Schapelle Corby was convicted. A successful defamation action, a book, and media deals have possibly made her family hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.

But the woman at the centre of the legal and media maelstrom, has remained in a Balinese prison – until now.

 

GERARD BADEN-CLAY Hearing 3rd Feb 2014-UPDATED


04/02/14 UPDATE FOR DAY 2

ALLISON Baden-Clay went to see a family counsellor about her husband’s three-year affair with a staff member, a court has been told today.

Gerard Baden-Clay, charged with the Murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay

Gerard Baden-Clay, charged with the Murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay

The Brookfield mum also detailed her history of depression to the counsellor, the court was told at a pre-trial hearing.

The routine hearing is to resolve legal issues ahead of the Gerard Baden-Clay’s upcoming murder trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Allison told the counsellor her husband Gerard’s attitude to the depression was that he was “over it” and that it had contributed to the affair, the court was told.

The court heard the counsellor later had a separate session with Gerard where he said he wanted to leave the affair in the past but reluctantly agreed to 15-minute discussions with his wife every second night.

Baden-Clay reported his wife missing on April 20, 2012. He has been charged with her murder and is due to face trial in June.

Relationships Australia counsellor Carmel Ritchie told the court the first session with Allison was at Spring Hill on March 27, 2012, and lasted about an hour.

Allison described herself as a mother of three who worked with her husband’s real estate agency four days a week, Ms Ritchie told the court.

She told the counsellor that after taking malaria medication on her honeymoon she had a “very severe reaction” and suffered chronic depression and “psychotic episodes”.

She had seen a psychologist during her second pregnancy and had been on and off medication ever since.

Allison said her husband had an affair for three years and at least partly blamed her depression, Ms Richie said.

Asked to describe her problems in a few words she told the counsellor: “Inadequate. Not good enough. Believe I let it happen. Gerard’s way is the right way. Gerard had an affair for the last three years. Parenting, Gerard criticises me. Fear that one day he will leave me”.

Allison told the counsellor she wanted to “work on me” and sort out issues with parenting, the court was told.

Allison found out about Gerard’s affair on September 14, 2011, Ms Ritchie said.

The affair started on August 27, 2008, four days after Gerard and Allison’s own anniversary, the counsellor said.

Ms Ritchie said Allison told her: “I confronted him. He is now honest and takes responsibility. He blames me for some of it, the depression.”

Allison said that two years ago on their anniversary she surprised Gerard by asking: “What’s wrong with us?”

She told the counsellor Gerard replied: “I’ve had enough. I want to leave.”

Allison said she put it down to a midlife crisis.

Allison said Gerard’s personality was “ambitious and leader like” and he had high expectations of her and the children, Ms Richie told the court.

She told the counsellor her father felt as though “he was controlling her”, the court was told.

In her case notes, the counsellor wrote her opinion that Allison was a “conflict avoider who has said yes too many times in the relationship”.

To Gerard, Allison was not the girl he married, while Gerard had changed to a “look after myself” attitude, the court was told.

Ms Ritchie said she told Allison at the end of the session she could bring Gerard to the next session if she wanted.

Allison said she did not believe Gerard would want to come.

However at the next appointment on April 16, 2012, both Allison and Gerard were in the waiting room.

Ms Ritchie told the court she took Gerard into her room on his own at first. She said she had planned to spend half the hour-long session with him and then see them both together, but the session with Gerard went for most of the hour.

“I was surprised to see Gerard there as well. That was because Allison thought he would not come,” Ms Ritchie told the court.

The session, at Kenmore, was four days before Baden-Clay reported his wife missing.

Ms Ritchie said she took a standard 60-second snapshot with Gerard, but he didn’t say much about himself personally, talking instead about his work and achievements.

The court heard that after further questions Gerard told the counsellor: “Allison does not trust me. She questions me. She says yes when she means no.”

He told the counsellor of Allison’s disappointment with her life and that he used to blame his wife for disappointments in his own life, the court was told.

He said he attended the session because Allison wanted him to.

He wanted to “build a future” with his wife and to leave the affair behind him and thought discussing the affair with Allison was a regression, Ms Ritchie told the court.

“He wants to get on with life. Wipe it clean,” the counsellor said she wrote in her notes from the session.

“He needs to accept seven or eight months is very early days yet and to ‘steel’ himself for the long haul.”

Ms Ritchie told the court she advised Baden-Clay he could not ignore his wife’s feelings about the affair.

“I spoke about the fact he did have to sit and listen to Allison’s feelings about the affair.

“I told him that he can’t put this in the past because for Allison that past is very much in the present.”

Gerard did not want to take the advice.

“Isn’t that regression? Isn’t that living in the past?” he asked.

They went back and forth until “eventually he agreed”.

Ms Ritchie said she told Gerard to listen to Allison for 10 to 15 minutes every second night. She said she “always” limited such talks because they were “highly emotional”.

Gerard’s role was to “simply listen … absolutely not be defensive” and at the end to express remorse if that was how he felt.

Ms Ritchie told the court she went outside to get Allison from the waiting room and apologised for taking so long with her husband.

“Her face broke into a smile and she said ‘I’m over the moon you have spent this time with him’.”

Ms Ritchie said when she was back in the room with both Baden-Clay and his wife she went over the plan for the 10 to 15-minute talks, which were to continue until the next session in a week or two.

“I saw her say to Gerard ‘I am over the moon that you have spent this time’. But it was a defensive, hurt way that she was saying it.”

Asked in court about Allison’s mood, she said: “I think she was very pleased to introduce me to Gerard. She was smiling.”

Ms Ritchie added that Gerard discussed his roles in the school P&C and the local chamber of commerce.

“For Gerard, his image in the community is very important…He believes he is a valuable member of society,” the counsellor said she wrote in her notes.

The next session was never booked, with Baden-Clay reporting his wife missing on the Friday of that week.

Barrister Michael Byrne QC, for Baden-Clay, put to the witness that Allison’s depression and early panic attacks went back to taking the malaria medication during her honeymoon and to her pregnancy with the couple’s first child, who was born in 2001.

Mr Byrne said between Allison’s discovery of the affair and the first session with the counsellor Baden-Clay had “reached the point where he was honest and was taking responsibility”.

“His attitude to the affair is to wipe it clean and get on with life. What she’s saying to you there was put the past behind them put the affair out of life and move on as a couple,” Mr Byrne said.

Ms Ritchie agreed Allison wanted to move on as a couple.

03/02/14 Not much to report from today’s hearing, day 1 of 2

ACCUSED wife murderer Gerard Baden-Clay returned to court in Brisbane on Monday for legal argument ahead of his upcoming trial.

Scratches on the accused, Gerard Baden-Clay.

Scratches on the accused, Gerard Baden-Clay.

The routine hearing to determine which evidence can be put before a jury is scheduled to run for two days in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Dressed in a dark suit and wearing a tie, the 43-year-old former real estate agent watched proceedings from the dock.

The court heard from the pathologist who carried out Allison Baden-Clay’s post-mortem examination.

Legal argument centred on the admissibility of parts of his evidence, and that of medical experts who assessed scratches and other marks found on Baden-Clay following his wife’s disappearance.

The couple’s former family counsellor is expected to give evidence in court for the first time when the hearing resumes on Tuesday.

Mrs Baden-Clay, 43, was reported missing by her husband on April 20, 2012.

Her body was found 10 days later on the banks of a creek in Brisbane’s west.

The last court related update is as follows from back in December 2013.

The many GBC posts can be found here or here http://aussiecriminals.com.au/tag/gerard-baden-clay/

A family counsellor can be called to give evidence at the murder trial of Brisbane man Gerard Baden-Clay, a judge has ruled.

The Relationships Australia counsellor had argued her conversations with Baden-Clay, 43, and his slain wife Allison, were confidential.

However, Supreme Court judge James Douglas on Thursday ruled counsellor Carmel Ritchie will be required to give evidence at a pre-trial hearing next year.

The ruling means the crown can call Ms Ritchie as a witness during the trial, which has been set down for June next year.

The counsellor spoke with Mrs Baden-Clay on March 27, 2012, and with Baden-Clay and his wife separately on April 16, 2012.

Baden-Clay sat in the dock during Thursday’s brief hearing.

Mrs Baden-Clay was reported missing on April 20 last year, and her body was found on the banks of a creek in Brisbane’s west 10 days later.

Baden-Clay was arrested in June 2012 and charged with murder.

He maintains he is innocent.

In an earlier court hearing, Relationships Australia’s barrister George Kalimnios had argued the Family Law Act prohibited Ms Ritchie giving evidence, and could claim privilege on the grounds of public interest.

But in his written judgement on Thursday, Justice Douglas said both arguments were misconceived, and there were no grounds to claim privilege.

“Even if such a privilege existed separate from the Act, the balance is decisively in favour of permitting access to the evidence for the purposes of Mr Baden-Clay’s trial on the charge of murder.”

Matters before the Court 3rd Feb 2014

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