Interior designer Stuart Rattle’s partner, Michael O’Neill sentenced to 18 years in jail for his murder

The lover of Stuart Rattle has been sentenced to a 13-year minimum jail sentence for his

The lover of Stuart Rattle has been sentenced to a 13-year minimum jail sentence for his murder.

THE lover of murdered interior designer Stuart Rattle could serve just 13 years behind bars despite treating him like a prop out of the black comedy A Weekend at Bernie’s.

Michael O’Neill, 48, made cups of tea and watched episodes of Dr Who with his dead lover, who he murdered in their South Yarra home by cracking him over the head with a frying pan and strangling him with a dog lead.

The grim charade went on for five days as O’Neill carried on his day-to-day life pretending Mr Rattle was alive, buying him food and wine.

He eventually burnt down their home and made it loom like an accident.

Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth today sentenced him to a maximum of 18 years in jail, with a 13-year minimum, on charges of murder and arson.

Stuart Rattle's family at the Melbourne Supreme Court including sisters Diane Newlands an

Stuart Rattle’s family at the Melbourne Supreme Court including sisters Diane Newlands and Katrina Lewin and mother Jill Rattle. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Michael O'Neill arriving at the Supreme Court this morning. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Michael O’Neill arriving at the Supreme Court this morning. Picture: Nicole Garmston

A 1998 portrait of Stuart Rattle.

A 1998 portrait of Stuart Rattle.

In handing down her decision, Justice Hollingworth said she accepted O’Neill killed the respected interior decorator in December 2013 in a snap decision and did not plan to profit from his death.

“I accept that you killed Mr Rattle in the heat of the moment, without any forethought, for reasons which are deeper and more complicated than those suggested by the prosecution,’’ she said.

But Mr Rattle’s sister Katrina Lewin said her family was “shattered” over the jail sentence handed down.

“We are very disappointed by the meagre sentence that has been imposed,” Ms Lewin said.

Stuart Rattle's home office displayed his stylish sensibilities.

Stuart Rattle’s home office displayed his stylish sensibilities.

“We miss him everyday. Stuart was a very special person, he was very talented, charming and generous.

“It’s a waste of a beautiful life.”

Justice Hollingworth described O’Neill’s crime as “toward the lower end’’ of her sentencing range.

“Mr Rattle’s behavior in no way justified your killing him. But the circumstances in which you killed Mr Rattle, including the history of the relationship and your fragile psychological state, mean that the sentence imposed for murder must be towards the lower end of the range for that offence,’’ she said.

The court had previously heard O’Neill killed his partner of 16 years after he ridiculed him for refusing sex.

“He was stunned, and I got the dog lead and wrapped it around his neck,’’ he told police during his record of interview.

One of Rattle’s luxurious interiors in Toorak. Picture

One of Rattle’s luxurious interiors in Toorak. Picture

“I pulled it into a tight knot and he said to me, ‘Michael, don’t do this’. That’s all he said.”

“I made him a cup of tea.’’

O’Neill said he washed Mr Rattle’s bloody face before tidying up and placing him in a bag on the bed.

He continued to live his life as normal, taking the couple’s fox terriers for walks and catching up with friends.

“I did everything – two of everything,’’ he told police.

At one point he even sat by Mr Rattle’s body in bed and watched a Dr Who DVD, adjusting the TV as if to give the dead man a better view.

And he texted a friend from Mr Rattle’s phone, pretending he was still alive.

O’Neill said he sat and talked to Mr Rattle’s corpse.

Justice Hollingworth said the argument that led to Mr Rattle’s death was a repetition of the controlling and belittling behavior that had characterised their relationship.

“This was certainly not the first time he had called you a ‘frigid bitch’ for refusing his sexual advances. But this time you snapped … You finally had enough.’’

Ms Hollingworth said she took into account O’Neill suffered from a personality disorder and depression and was likely to do hard prison time.

She also took into account his early plea of guilty, clean criminal history and genuine remorse.


How Michael O’Neill hid the murder of interior designer and lover Stuart Rattle for five days

Designer Stuart Rattle at his beloved Musk Farm in Daylesford.

Designer Stuart Rattle at his beloved Musk Farm in Daylesford.

Guilty plea

THE first Malvern Rd tram of the day had just trundled by when Michael O’Neill rose from his bed, went to the kitchen, selected a saucepan, and clobbered his long-time partner.

Stuart Rattle was barely awake at the moment of the solitary blow: now groggy and bleeding, he asked O’Neill to stop as his lover wrapped a dog lead around his neck and pulled tight.

The scene made little sense, nor did what followed – as described by the murderer, who “loved” the victim as “a good person” who had been “so good to me”.

O’Neill mopped up the blood – Rattle didn’t like mess, he later explained. Unsure of what to do next, O’Neill steered a belated course for civility. He made his victim a cup of tea.

Over the next five days O’Neill would apologise to his deceased partner, who he lay in their bed. He would cry for his loss and pretend that Rattle, 53, wasn’t dead at all.

O’Neill, now 48, prepared meals for Rattle and shifted the TV so they could watch shows together. Yes, it sounded “very strange”, he later admitted.

“There’s something psychopathic about it all,” one of Rattle’s closest friends told the Herald Sun soon after O’Neill’s arrest, “but I’m not sure he’ll ever give a reason why he did it.”

Stuart Rattle's home office after the fire.

Stuart Rattle’s home office after the fire.

When Rattle’s body was discovered after a fire, the friend was instantly suspicious. O’Neill blamed a candle, yet Rattle was terrified of having open flames inside. The friend led a hushed chorus of suspicion. He “knew” then that O’Neill was being untruthful because “he couldn’t even look me in the face”.Slipperiness punctuated a police interview O’Neill gave soon afterwards. For five hours, O’Neill danced around the truth about the suspicious death. Once he finally confessed, he repeatedly said that he had killed Rattle for no good reason at all.

Then, he had lived with his victim and made his excuses. Then, he had botched the cover-up (which he explained as an attempt to offer his decomposing friend some “dignity”). O’Neill’s version of these events stands alone – the only other witnesses were the couple’s three fox terriers.

The police interview of last December was released last week during O’Neill’s committal hearing. It depicted a twitchy subject who lapsed between the past and present tense. O’Neill asked for wine and declined an offer of food because he doubted the police could offer anything he would like.

It was the denouement, if you believe others, after months of emotional struggle for O’Neill. One telling features O’Neill, suffering crying fits and bouts of hysteria, having to be hidden at times from Rattle’s interior design clients.

O’Neill had been a waiter at an upmarket Italian bistro when he and Rattle met in the late 1990s. Rattle’s renown as an interior designer was reaching full bloom. His talent would later shine most publicly at his beloved Musk Farm near Daylesford, yet his gifts extended to painting.

A great source of pride between the couple, it’s said they had confided, was that their initial bond had produced one almost instant tangible effect. O’Neill was in love – and off the anti-depressants.

Late last year, after 16-odd years, O’Neill was back on the prescription medication, according to one story told by friends. The drugs, say observers, were not working. O’Neill was manic, more “flighty” than usual, and always in a rush. He seemed mentally “unwell” and was making mistakes – well, even more mistakes than usual.

The day before Rattle’s death, at a Point Nepean Rd mansion in Portsea, O’Neill apparently botched the deliveries on the final day of a two-year project. The arguments, or “sh–fight”, flared throughout the day. The assumption among Rattle’s friends is that Rattle, finally, wanted O’Neill gone, at least from the business, if not the beds they shared as well.

‘In some ways you can see it all unfolding, when you look back on it’ – a friend of Stuart Rattle

This tallies with the closest O’Neill came to a motive during his police interview, a week after he killed Rattle. In response to the 1565th question put to him in a seven-hour interrogation, he said: “I was frightened and scared I’d lose him. I couldn’t face that.”

During the interview, O’Neill had offered up lies that could never survive scrutiny. That Rattle had died in the fire. That so-and-so had seen Rattle on days after Rattle had died. He later said “there wasn’t any, like … discord” between the pair. Indeed, he said, they had been “very happy”.

It seems, however, there was much heat between the pair when Rattle died. There had been for months. The trappings of their lifestyle projected success from afar. They drove a Range Rover. Rattle avoided champagne that was not French.

Yet the shininess did not paste over the fissures of time. Rattle had been noticeably vocal in his frustration with O’Neill, who was increasingly unable to cope with the pressures of running Rattle’s high-fuss business.

“In some ways you can see it all unfolding, when you look back on it,” says someone who knew Rattle for decades. “But the horrendous result just seems absolutely unimaginable. Michael must have just snapped.”

STUART Rattle was feeling low. One afternoon, a couple of years’ back, he took a bottle of wine to a friend’s, a fabric house owner, and sat down for a chat. He had a simple question. Why aren’t I as big as Thomas Hamel?

Hamel, from Sydney, is considered Australia’s most feted interior designer. Some experts, especially south of the border, felt Rattle was more talented.

Rattle lacked naked ambition: he’d rather perfect a garden than conquer the world, and he had, by then, tired of rich clients and their absurd demands. He’d prefer to stare at shades than study balance sheets. Yet the fabric house owner, it’s said, had a simple answer to the simple question: “Because of Michael.”

A magazine spread featuring Stuart Rattle’s work.

A magazine spread featuring Stuart Rattle’s work.

O’Neill was chatty, whereas Rattle, outside the fields of his expertise, tended to shrink in a crowd. Against this, the world was offered many images of Rattle, the brand name, whereas next to no photos exist of O’Neill. Rattle was said to be “Mumsy”, yet O’Neill was almost entirely off the public stage. For years, it worked. Their private teaming oozed charm and happiness.O’Neill was vague about his past: he had arrived from Ireland, via Terang. Any reticence he showed about broadcasting his origins was not unusual: many in high-end circles are said to thrust forwards without a nod to the past.

O’Neill was comfortable, over a cup of tea, talking classics or history or literature. Observers agree he had a wicked sense of humour that at times belonged in a skit show series. “He was very knowledgeable about a lot of things, which surprised us, because he could be so useless on another level,” says one.

Furniture maker Kim Moir used to speak to O’Neill almost every day. Moir had supplied Rattle for decades: they were so reliant on one another that they had agreed to retire at the same time.

Before his death, Rattle told Moir that he couldn’t afford to retire. He was open about his love of finer things, and the spending that such tastes demanded. “French champagne costs the same in the country as it costs in the city,” Rattle told Moir, who – as Rattle had often joked – would make Rattle’s coffin.

Moir says he didn’t want the every day contact with O’Neill, but that he had learned long ago that O’Neill would otherwise mess up the latest shape, size, order or delivery. He was “incompetent”; worse, he “refused to believe he was incompetent”.

O’Neill’s forgetfulness and “perpetual lying” cost a lot of money. “You can’t go to the customer and say we’ve made a mistake, we’ll have to order another $40,000 worth of fabric,” Moir says. “You just wear it and you have to order it again. It drove us nuts. It drove Stuart nuts.”Rattle had told Moir that he had sacked O’Neill many times. O’Neill had promised not to make the same mistakes and to adhere to new systems and turn up to daily meetings. Nothing worked.

Crises erupted regularly. O’Neill took great pride in solving what he had created. “It was all about trying to get around Michael and trying to get Michael to toe the line,” Moir says.

Plainly, Rattle tolerated such problems for a long time. He was known to describe O’Neill, with affection, as “f—— lazy”. But there had been recent shifts: Moir was frustrated to be with-held payments from Rattle’s business, considering the intimacy of their business relationship over many years.

Armadale antiques dealer Graham Geddes first identified “something wrong in the camp” several years ago. The growing complexities of the business were beyond O’Neill’s abilities, he says, and the pressures buckled Rattle and O’Neill’s personal relationship.

O’Neill had become more disorganised in recent years. Money owed to Geddes, who had first befriended and mentored Rattle more than three decades earlier, was not getting paid.

“I believe that Stuart was trying to pull the pin on the relationship,” he says. “That was definitely the go. Stuart had mentioned to me that he couldn’t cope with Michael and that he was incompetent.”

Another supplier, Hans Unger of Renaissance Parquet, says Rattle’s business faced the universal pressures of being owed money. “Towards the end, Michael was making horrible mistakes daily and I think that’s what put them into a real s—fight that day in Portsea,” Unger says. “I don’t think he was coping with the pressure of everything around him. It was all getting a bit too much.”

O’Neill himself volunteered the subject of mistakes during his police interview. He said Rattle always forgave him. O’Neill also admitted that he tried to cover up his mistakes, “almost like something a five-year-old does”.

He had recently tried a therapist, he said, because it had been a continuing issue. Yet the treatment hadn’t worked. He “couldn’t cope with it”.

“I sometimes create my own little bubble and pretend things don’t happen,” O’Neill said.

What was said on the final night of Rattle’s life? Did Rattle withdraw years of habitual forgiveness and trigger a dreadful choice described by Geddes as a “psychiatric problem”?

According to O’Neill, in his police interview, it had instead been a night of physical intimacy.

Stuart Rattle's office

Stuart Rattle’s office

THE Malvern St shopfront still bears Rattle’s name. Untended, it is an indictment to Rattle’s vibrancy. The blinds are drawn. Spiders have set up home. Dogs no longer trot and growl behind the window.

It’s said shrines to Rattle are better kept in private surrounds, where grief-struck clients know not where to turn. One woman has resorted to endless cups of tea and mournful reminiscences with a passing parade of home improvers who can never substitute for Rattle.

A while back, unable to source Rattle’s materials, she grew desperate. Someone with a black sense of humour suggested two options – a seance, to ask Rattle, or to try writing to Michael in jail.

The woman opted for the letter. Word is she got a helpful reply.


Rabbi Yosef Feldman tells child abuse royal commission reformed paedophiles deserve leniency???????? Really WTF

Mon 9 Feb 2015, 8:35pm

Paedophiles who are no longer abusing children should not have to spend their lives feeling like the “scum of the Earth”, a senior rabbi has told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman, a leader within the Sydney Yeshivah community, told the inquiry he was friends with convicted child abuser Daniel Hayman when he was arrested and charged in 2011.

He said he did not think it was fair that a member of the community should go to jail for an historical case of child abuse if they had already repented and received treatment.

“I would be asking for more leniency on people who have shown that they haven’t offended in the last 20 years or decades ago, and have psychological analyses that this is the case,” Rabbi Feldman said.

Once someone is not a paedophile any more or is showing [he] is not acting wrongly any more, that should be considered in a very strong way.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman

“Once someone is not a paedophile any more or is showing [he] is not acting wrongly any more, that should be considered in a very strong way.

The more lenient approach would show “when you do the right thing, you won’t get mistreated badly and it’s not the end of the world … then you are not treated like a pariah, like a scum of the Earth”.

Rabbi Feldman lashed out at the media, saying publicity about child sex abuse “encourages even people who may not be real victims or may want to be considered heroes” to go to the police.

“Like we have seen here in Melbourne, we had one rabbi who was ultimately vindicated, and I was very against too much of a public situation, like I see with the media also, they go out in a very public way, and also exaggerating, at times lying,” he said.

“I’m worried about the effect of the hype of child abuse.”

His lawyer told the commission Rabbi Feldman had received death threats since Friday’s hearing, in which he said he did not understand it was illegal for an adult to touch a child’s genitals.

‘The less the media is involved, the better’

Rabbi Feldman was asked about an apparent conflict between one of his public statements and a private email he sent in mid-2011.

The commission heard Rabbi Feldman had once written to the Sydney Beth Din (Jewish court) that convicted paedophile David Kramer’s “life and family is being ruined now for no good reason.”

In a sometimes heated exchange, he told counsel assisting the commission, Maria Gerace, he was entitled to his own opinions, and denied they were at odds with the rule of law.

He said he was concerned about miscarriages of justice occurring.

“It’s obvious I care about people,” he said.

“A rabbi cares mostly about people.”

Rabbi Feldman told the commission, Jewish law dictated that “you have to be very careful about not embarrassing people” and “the less the media is involved the better”.

He said sinners did not deserve to be known “all around the world” for their crimes.

“The publicity of someone being charged and the naming and shaming, it’s already public,” Rabbi Feldman said.

Ms Gerace responded that perhaps it would give more encouragement to others who were abused to come forward and face their perpetrators.

“I have thought about that and I have no problem with the general pronouncement,” Rabbi Feldman said.

“But not at times when it seems like a PR process and it seems like when there’s hype and then you join in the hype … it’s all false, that sort of thing.

“If the rabbis would come out at other times, at normal time, nothing to do with any hype, with society… saying this is a strong issue we should deal with, that is fantastic and the victims are the most important and we have to deal with that.”

Rabbi Feldman said he did believe in secular law and reporting child abuse immediately.

“But not matters of a PR situation … that’s what brings about false charges and things of this nature,” he said.



Rabbi Yosef Feldman says media hype causes ‘fake’ abuse victims

Rabbi feared ‘false’ abuse claims

Rabbi Yosef Feldman leaves the Melbourne County Court after giving evidence at the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. Source: News Corp Australia

AN orthodox rabbi has argued media “hype” causes “fake victims” to make allegations of child sexual abuse, while admitting he feared people were making false allegations against his friend, David Cyprys, who was later convicted of serious child sex offences.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman, rabbinical administrator of Bondi’s Chabad Yeshiva centre, today told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he had expressed concern when he learnt in 2011 that Beth Dins in Sydney and Melbourne were planning to make public statements encouraging abuse victims to come forward.

“Too much hype causes miscarriages of justice,” he said. “I didn’t think it was the time and place for the rabbis to come out in the media with public statements.

“I think it’s bad for the Jews.”

Rabbi Feldman wrote a series of emails to other rabbis in 2011 — when abuse allegations involving Yeshivah College in Melbourne became public amid a police investigation — arguing Jews with information about child sex abuse allegations should see a rabbi rather than police.

He said today that he would “highly encourage” Australia to change its laws to allow rabbis to assess the veracity of child sex abuse complaints before encouraging victims to alert police.

He also said greater leniency should be shown to paedophiles who had committed sex offences years ago, if it could be shown they hadn’t offended since. And that would be proved how?

“I would lobby the government about this if I could,” he said. “They do the right thing and they are shown to do the right thing, (then) they deserve a bit more respect.”

Rabbi Feldman said he was worried at the time that further complaints might be laid against Cyprys, a friend who had worked at Yeshivah in Melbourne for decades.

Cyprys is currently serving an eight year prison sentence for abusing several boys at Yeshiva.

“I was worried the publicity would bring about fake victims, “ Rabbi Feldman said.

“The reality is they make a whole issue of child abuse and it encourages people to accuse people of abuse when … they are really innocent.”

Other rabbis have condemned Rabbi Feldman’s views and called for victims to be encouraged to go to police.

The commission heard threats had been made against Rabbi Feldman on social media since he began giving evidence.

The hearing continues.


Perth counsellor Allan Huggins admits struggling with attraction to teens

Perth counsellor Allan Huggins admits struggling with attraction to teens when he touched two boys

Mon 9 Feb 2015, 9:35pm

A Perth counsellor has admitted to inappropriately touching two boys while struggling to deal with his homosexuality, but denied sexually abusing other boys in his care.

Allan Keith Huggins, 68, is on trial in the West Australian District Court, charged with 49 offences stemming from when he was an education officer at the Warminda school-to-work program in 1990 and 1991.

He testified on Monday that he had told two clinical psychologists at the time he was attracted to teenage boys and had touched two youths unrelated to this trial.

“I was in therapy and I was trying to unburden myself,” he said.

Huggins told the court he was having difficulty adjusting to being gay and did not want to hurt his wife and children.

He also attributed some of his attraction to boys to having been abused when he was aged between seven and 12.

“I just sucked it up and lived with it all my life, but I was aware that it had created a problem,” Huggins said.

But he denied the crimes for which he was on trial, including touching, masturbation, sexual penetration and oral sex.

Huggins rejected allegations put to him by prosecutor Bernard Standish, including performing oral sex on one boy and repeatedly telling him to be brave.

“I don’t think so, no, not at all,” he said.

Huggins also rejected the assertion he swam in a pool with two boys and touched the genitals of one boy before threatening them not to tell anyone.

“I’m not the threatening type,” Huggins said.

When Mr Standish suggested the boys in the program needed help because of their troubled childhoods, Huggins replied: “Absolutely, and I was on their side.”

The trial continues.

Police failed to act on child sexual abuse complaint against Allan Huggins, victim says

Wed 28 Jan 2015, 5:21pm

A Perth man says he never heard from police again after he told officers a former school counsellor sexually abused him, the District Court has heard.

The man was giving evidence at the trial of Allan Keith Huggins, 68, who is accused of abusing seven boys in the 1990s.

The man testified he was a ward of the state when he attended a government program for troubled boys in East Victoria Park.

He described Mr Huggins as like the “headmaster” of the program, and said on one occasion, in 1990 or 1991, when he was about 13, he was taken to his office, where the door was shut and locked and he was sexually abused.

The man said he ran out of the building and went to his aunt’s house, where he told her Huggins had touched him.

He testified his aunt then went to East Victoria Park to confront Mr Huggins.

The man said later, when he was in juvenile detention, he was visited by two police officers and asked about the allegation.

“I specifically remember saying I did want him charged,” the man told the court.

“I never heard from them again.”

The court heard that in 2013 the man made an application for compensation under a system called Redress, and police again investigated his complaint.

Mr Huggins has pleaded not guilty to all 49 charges against him.

Senior jail boss Sharon Joan Yarnton allegedly attempted to set husband’s car on fire while he was asleep inside

I wonder if she is in the same jail she works at. pretty dumb really…

AMY DALE Chief Court Reporter
The Daily Telegraph
February 03, 2015 12:00AM

Senior Corrective Servcies employee Sharon Joan Yarnton has been charged with the attempt

Senior Corrective Services employee Sharon Joan Yarnton has been charged with the attempted murder of her husband.

  • Sharon Yarnton had put two nine kilo gas bottles next to her husband’s car and doused it in diesel fuel
  • Two other women have also been charged with attempted murder and will face court today
  • Mrs Yarnton is a senior corrective services officer with 25 years experience

A CORRECTIVE Services employee with 25 years experience is now in a prison cell herself, charged with the attempted murder of her husband.

Sharon Joan Yarnton was refused bail in Bankstown Local Court, after Dean Yarnton awoke in Georges River National Park in the early hours of Sunday morning with his car covered by diesel fuel.

Sharon Yarnton and husband Dean on their wedding day / Picture: Supplied

Sharon Yarnton and husband Dean on their wedding day / Picture: Supplied

Police allege he fell asleep in the Nissan Navarro at a Merrylands address during the night and awoke to find himself in the passenger seat at the park.

He allegedly found his wife nearby, and police were called to the park.

The 48-year-old was arrested and charged a short time later.

Sharon Yarnton and husband Dean / Picture: Supplied

Sharon Yarnton and husband Dean / Picture: Supplied

It is alleged Yarnton placed two nine kilo open valve gas bottles close to the car and “did pour an amount of diesel fuel in the tray and exterior vicinity on the roadway of where (the car) was parked, with the intent to murder Dean Yarnton.”

Yesterday afternoon a further two people were charged with attempted murder over the incident.

About 4.40pm yesterday, a 48-year-old and a 23-year-old woman attended Miranda Police Station where they were met by detectives from Bankstown.

They were refused bail, and will appear in Sutherland Local Court today

The court heard Mrs Yarnton, of Menai, has been with Corrective Services for a quarter of a century and holds a “very senior” position.

She had asked to be released on bail, but had to “show cause” under the state’s new laws which came into action last week.

The court heard Yarnton has been suffering from depression, and had wanted to be on bail so she could continue to care for a young relative.

She offered to live with her parents but the court ruled “the defence has not shown cause.”

Mrs Yarnton will face Central Local Court on March 18.

Then Minister for Police and Emergency Service Michael Gallacher is given a tour of the h

Then Minister for Police and Emergency Service Michael Gallacher is given a tour of the holding cells at Central Local Court today by Senior Assistant Superintendent Sharon Yarnton.

Hells Angels Darkside president Mohammed Khodr jailed, but keeps undercover cops’ cash

Hells Angels Darkside president Mohammed Khodr jailed, but keeps undercover cops’ cash

Hells Angels Darkside chapter president Mohammed Khodr following his arrest.

Hells Angels Darkside chapter president Mohammed Khodr following his arrest.

AN ICE-trafficking bikie boss will not have to repay any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to him by undercover police in a five-month sting, a judge has ordered.

President of the Hells Angels Darkside chapter Mohammed Khodr received $220,000 of taxpayer money from cops in exchange for 910 grams of methylamphetamine.

County Court Judge Michael Bourke sentenced the 27-year-old to seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment but refused the prosecution’s application for Khodr to repay just $78,200 of the hand-out.

He said the Balwyn North man, who will serve a minimum term of five years, would not be in any position to repay the debt when released from jail.

Khodr was on a suspended sentence when police contacted him through a car advertisement he placed on online trading site Gumtree and began buying increasing quantities of ice from him.

Following a request, Khodr also sold a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition to undercover police for $10,500.

Darkside bikie raids

He was arrested in February 2014 — around the time his only child was born — at a staged drug sale meeting, turned police raid.

The court heard it was not clear how much Khodr profited from the sales.

Judge Bourke said he had a “substantial number of prior court appearances” for violence, dishonesty, drug, property and firearms offences.

The court heard Khodr suffered psychological symptoms — including anxiety and depression — and cognitive effects from an acquired brain injury, which made him more immature and prone to impulsive behaviour and “mindless aggression”.

The judge found this did not reduce his moral culpability for the offending, which required consideration and organisation, but would make his time in prison more difficult.

A motorcycle seized at the Darkside chapter’s Boronia clubhouse coinciding with Khodr’s a

A motorcycle seized at the Darkside chapter’s Boronia clubhouse coinciding with Khodr’s arrest.

He is currently in lockdown 23 hours per day at Barwon Prison due to an assault on a prison officer.

Khodr, originally charged with 24 offences, pleaded guilty to trafficking a large commercial quantity of the drug ice — which carries a maximum term of life imprisonment — and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

Judge Bourke said the offending was “extremely serious” because ice was “highly damaging to our community” but ordered a lower than normal non-parole period, saying Khodr had some prospects of rehabilitation.

He ordered that the six-month suspended sentence for offences including making a threat to kill, possessing steroids and weapons and assaulting police be served at the same time.

No penalty was imposed for the charge of breaching a suspended sentence.

Khodr was arrested by the heavily-armed Special Operations Group at the same time as raid

Khodr was arrested by the heavily-armed Special Operations Group at the same time as raids on the Darkside clubhouse at Boronia.

Defence counsel Emma Turnbull earlier warned Khodr — who appeared via video link — not to react when his sentence was handed down.

“No wobbly?” he joked.

“I thought I was the gift that keeps on giving.”

His co-accused, 28-year-old Logo Afuie — who helped Khodr source the drugs that were sold to police — will be sentenced next week.

“Multi-level marketing” scam? I say yes.

OPINION: Don’t mention the ‘P’ word

Egypt, the spiritual home of multi-level marketing.

Egypt, the spiritual home of multi-level marketing. Source: Getty Images

HERE we go again.

Another p— sorry, “multi-level marketing” scheme convincing people they’ll get rich by flogging — what is it this time? Protein powder? Makeup? Toilet rolls? — to their friends and acquaintances.

US weight-loss company Isagenix was slammed by Consumer group Choice this week for allowing unqualified operatives to spruik its products and provide diet advice while recruiting new sellers into the scheme.

Multi-level marketing, network marketing, direct selling, call it what you will. Whatever you do, don’t mention the ‘P’ word. You wouldn’t want to get sued.



MLM companies like Amway, Avon, Herbalife and Isagenix present themselves as legitimate business opportunities. Maybe, but that depends on your definition. Of all three words.

Yes, multi-level marketing is technically legal. But — and this is my opinion, so feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below — that doesn’t make it a good investment, either of your time or money.

These companies lure people with big promises (“Be your own boss! Work from home! Make passive income!”) that almost never eventuate.

It sounds great: using your network of friends and acquaintances to sell products that people want. Win-win. But as Robert L. Fitzpatrick, author of False Profits, says, the reality of MLM recruiting is, on the whole, “disruptive and destructive”.

“At best it is awkward, annoying and manipulative. It could not be otherwise since it is based upon commercialising and exploiting relationships of love and trust, the so-called ‘warm list’ for recruiting,” he writes on his blog.

Olympic athlete Jana Pittman promotes Isagenix.

Olympic athlete Jana Pittman promotes Isagenix. Source: Supplied

“With a 99 per cent failure rate, it is inevitable and understandable that recruiting friends, families and neighbours into such losing propositions leads, almost universally, to rancour, alienation and the loss of trust. Divorces are a common outcome.”

Yet, he goes on to note, the private language of multi-level marketing — “network” marketing, “relationship” selling, “personal” referrals — disguises its true nature. “Such terms indicate cooperation, mutual support and a smooth blending of commercial and non-commercial values — the opposite of what actually occurs.

“MLM is, in fact, the only business on earth based entirely upon the commercialisation of personal relations, a fundamental contradiction that obviously could not work.”

Gerard Brody, chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre in Melbourne, warns consumers to be very wary of multi-level marketing schemes. “They tend to overpromise what they deliver, even potentially mislead people about the sorts of income generation they can obtain,” he says.

“Our concern is that they can target some pretty vulnerable people, maybe low income earners but also those potentially easily persuaded by pressure sales or marketing claims.”

Many employ psychological techniques to encourage an in-group, out-group mentality, not unlike a cult. “They encourage a sort of family or team-like atmosphere, so people tend to think they’re getting something out of it beyond the business outcomes that it’s delivering,” Mr Brody says.



Of course, like any industry, there is good and bad to be found.

The Direct Selling Association of Australia, the peak body which represents around 70 companies including those mentioned above, is working to reform an industry long plagued by these “reputational issues”, as it puts it.

DSAA chief executive John Holloway is candid in acknowledging there have been problems in the past. “You’re quite entitled to make the observations you’ve made, and when you look at some companies from past experience — and I’m including DSAA members — you may be entitled to draw those conclusions,” he says.

But the industry is changing. The old stereotypes no longer apply, and for every negative experience, there are many positive ones, Mr Holloway says. First and foremost, actual network marketing now represents just a part of a bigger picture for these companies.

“They use an increasingly omnichannel presence, so not just direct selling but other aspects of retailing such as distance selling and online selling. The entire channel is changing.”

Herbalife has been dogged by controversy in the US.

Herbalife has been dogged by controversy in the US. Source: News Limited

A December 2013 report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the DSAA, estimated that there were around 478,000 “independent sales people” associated with direct-selling organisations.

Roughly 250,000 were considered ‘active’, defined as having made a sale within the prior three months. Of those, 32,000 worked nine hours per week, and 7,700 worked 37.5 hours per week. Overall, Deloitte estimated the total economic contribution of the direct selling industry at $1.165 billion for 2012.

“We’ve got a good message to sell, but we’re also realistic in knowing there are excesses out there, certainly they are out there,” says Mr Holloway.

The DSAA maintains very strict membership standards, he says, to avoid any suggestion of the ‘P’ word. So what are the red flags?

“If there’s a high cost of joining — what are you getting for your money? What representations are being made about earning potential? What, realistically, are the prospects of success? Direct selling is not unlike any other small business. You only get out what you put in.”

But at the end of the day, Mr Holloway says, it has to be a “real, quality product, competitively priced”, that people will actually want to buy.

Fair enough. But personally, I’ll just wait to get it at Woolies.

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Comments on this story

  • Deb of Sydney NSW Posted at 4:12 PM Today

    Be your own boss…equates to ‘do all the work and get nothing for it’. Passive income is actually very true…it’s perfectly start with a dollar and 12 months later, it’s still a dollar:) Although, great for tax…all your expenses make it a good loss:) Opportunity equates to being alone, as all your friends avoid you like the plague and even strangers will cross a busy expressway to avoid you! Having been through the Avon, Tupperware, Nutrametics, Amway and a few others I can’t remember…I can quite honestly state that when 29 year old son rang me up to mention ‘business opportunity’ in something like Jurlique (whatever the name), I sprouted ‘will cost you about $1500 or more (think inflation) and all of the above…it was actually $1800….he didn’t sign:) I have four children….not one of them will ever sign up. Pity, because most of the products are good, but the prices ridiculous. When someone states ‘I have a business opportunity I would to share with you’…I state…’there are times in one’s life, when they shouldn’t share…consider this one of them’.

    Comment 1 of 26

  • oh dear, another MLM beatup of QLD Posted at 4:07 PM Today

    If you don’t like pyramid schemes you better not work in a traditional business where they are…..a pyramid…..boss gets rich at the top, managers next, then employees, not much!!! Isagenix is obviously doing well because I’m seeing lots of noise about it……thanks for the info, I’m going to check it out! I’m happy to support a friend trying to get ahead in MLM….better than supporting a multinational traditional pyramid scheme, I mean company!!!

    Comment 2 of 26

  • petey of morley of perth Posted at 3:37 PM Today

    Moral of the story? “If it was that easy to make so much money, everyone would be doing it”

    Comment 3 of 26

  • Chris of Reality Posted at 3:31 PM Today

    Ok, so lets review. MLM is waste of time because it has a 99% failure rate… and 75% of small business in Australia fail within the first five years… MLM means selling to friends and family first… and if you opened a traditional bricks and mortar store front you wouldn’t tell your friends and family?? Yeah, I thought not. Which leads to the final sobering fact glossed over by this useless opinion piece. Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien was remunerated $4.2million last year… the average Australian full time wage is $74,000… your “non-pyramid” Woolies CEO makes 56 YEARS of your average Australian wage earners salary in a SINGLE year… now tell me about pyramids again.

    Comment 4 of 26

  • Mark Posted at 3:26 PM Today

    These MLM’s are prolific and work in small groups social groups. i.e. I’m an ex mormon with mormon family members that flog MLM weight loss programs and products.. They work their fellow member contacts and family members to ad nauseam using every opportunity to sell their wares i.e. social media like Facebook. dumb dumb dumb

    Comment 5 of 26

  • Danny Posted at 3:16 PM Today

    That’s like saying people who go to school is not a good investment because the ideal mentality is that when you study a certain course and practice your going be doing that your whole life yet almost 80% of students after grad don’t even end up in their practice that they studied for and spend thousands of dollars on. Multi level marketing compared to anything is a better way. Don’t look at is as a lotto or your going to get rich quick because it requires work like ANYTHING in life, but does that mean you shouldn’t do anything with your life? Idk. Simply I think this article — sums up what it takes to make it in MLM which is selling and recruiting.

    Comment 6 of 26

  • Nicki Keohohou Posted at 2:36 PM Today

    Frank: I can tell that you have a very strong opinion of what direct selling is about. I commend you for reaching out to John Holloway of the DSAA – he is a very knowledgable man and a good resource for anyone wishing to understand this profession. According to wikipedia the definition of a pyramid scheme is: an unsustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public. In other words, it is an opportunity to sell a business opportunity. I have worked with thousands of distributors in AU and NZ who have contributed to their family income or been the sole provider of their family as single parents. They are thankful for the opportunity to work from home and grateful for their companies. I am on a mission to educate the public about this amazing profession and the people in it. I would be happy to speak with you at any time to discuss any aspect of the business model if you are open. Sincerely, Nicki Keohohou

    Comment 7 of 26

  • Professor Frink Posted at 2:30 PM Today

    Vitamin supplements = Expensive wee! Unless directed by your doctor or some other qualified health professional, there is no need to take vitamins. If you insist on taking them without a genuine reason, do not take them everyday, but cut it down to three times per week.

    Comment 8 of 26

  • Richer of Hobart Posted at 2:22 PM Today

    One very Rich deVos – if you think business longevity or success equals ethical sales then you are beyond stupid

    Comment 9 of 26

  • Rocket of Scarborough WA Posted at 2:19 PM Today

    I’m keeping my Avon Lady. I think they she makes that much money off the prices they charge.

    Comment 10 of 26

  • Tony of Bne Posted at 2:16 PM Today

    1. Surely a journalist does not start a sentence with But. 2. The business training we received for around $1,000 pa was an option we chose and helped us develop an income which meant we were able to afford a full time parent. It also gave us the skills to develop a $200k + traditional full time business – so at $10k over the time we were active in MLM it was well worth it compared to a $100k uni degree

    Comment 11 of 26

  • Roger Posted at 2:15 PM Today

    If the products work/are high quality, I see no issue with recommending them to friends, colleagues and family members. In the nutrition/health food/weight loss categories there are products sold through pharmacies and endorsed and marketed by pharmacists that are no better than the stuff sold by MLM companies. Tony what’s his name is a good example. The difference is that the only people who can make money by selling through pharmacies is the pharmacist and the inventor of the product. With MLM it is actually possible to make a living and, in some cases quite a large amount of money. The issue is that most people who take up MLM opportunities don’t have what it takes to succeed. This is no different to real estate sales. Most people don’t last in the industry because they don’t have the attributes needed for success in that kind of job. And if you want to use the P word, what large company isn’t a P? You have the CEO and other senior execs making millions while the worker bees are just getting by. I was involved in a MLM business for a year or so. I didn’t succeed because I lacked what was needed to succeed. Most people are the same.

    Comment 12 of 26

  • tony of bne Posted at 2:11 PM Today

    Whilst there are some good elements to this story – lets look at the facts. Whether you like it or not or fits your coy description. A pyramid scheme involves putting money in and the people at the top always making more – there is rarely a product involved. Direct selling may involve MLM but not always and may be only one tier – MLM or network marketing always involves products – yes some may be highly priced some may be good or bad. John this will answer your request too. Amway is the biggest and oldest MLM company in the world. I joined in 2003 but have not been active since 2009. You have to understand the structure and the is not enough space here. For a long time I made way more $ than the person who introduced me and the next people up who were “diamond” made more the their sponsor. Making $$ is directly related to the work you do – not your group. now if you find develop 3 good groups you can make heaps- if only 1 you will get a great discount but not a lot more. in my peak I made $50k pa part time – I left because my full time business bloomed and we were making heaps more Amway is in decline & they have not moved with the times but you can still make it work.

    Comment 13 of 26

  • Terribla Posted at 1:53 PM Today

    No Pyramids please! They’re only in Egypt

    Comment 14 of 26

  • David of P-town Posted at 1:39 PM Today

    They target most peoples dreams and desires. pay of your parents mortgages, live carefree with constant income travel the world earn more to give more.. pffft if that was the case it would flip the system upside down on itself and the more people who join the less they would pay to help the world get “fit” and beat “obesity” Cleanse away with un-natural products lol

    Comment 15 of 26

  • Anna Trigg of Adelaide Posted at 1:37 PM Today

    Agree totally. Have been targeted by many “friends” on recruitment drives. Don’t think so much of them any more.

    Comment 16 of 26

  • Dave Posted at 1:35 PM Today

    unethical and hilarious to witness!!

    Comment 17 of 26

  • Alain Millett of Glenmore Park Posted at 1:29 PM Today

    It is not a pyramid – but then a traditional company is a bit like a pyramid – boss at the top and various levels of management going down with a wide base of workers at the bottom. I know people who are making hundreds of thousands in income every month from reputable Network Marketing Companies, but they are the rarity, these people have treated these business’s just like any other business, they work full time at them and operate with honesty and credibility. Disclaimer I am involved in a Network Marketing Company (not one of the ones mentioned) and I remain loyal to that company as the products are the best I have ever seen or can get anywhere else.

    Comment 18 of 26

  • chellmc of Sydney Posted at 1:17 PM Today

    Read Fraser Beath McEwing’s book ‘Cafe’ it’s a satirical tale of ‘P’ oops I mean multi-level marketing. Written by someone who has been there and done that and can see the funny side of the tales that are told to hook us all in.

    Comment 19 of 26

  • Brad of Adelaide Posted at 12:45 PM Today

    If you haven’t figured it out, the P word is Pyramid. As in ‘Pyramid selling’

    Comment 20 of 26

  • im not home Posted at 12:45 PM Today

    Is distance selling like those people that come to your house drop a penny miller brochure at your door and leave without you knowing? P selling – a great way to lose friends, collegues and family! and dont get me started about telemarketers…

    Comment 21 of 26

  • GeoffU of Narangba QLD Posted at 12:43 PM Today

    I’ll get what I need at Aldi.

    Comment 22 of 26

  • But That’s Just One of Many Online Scams Posted at 12:41 PM Today

    If I can’t buy it in a store than it can’t be that good. Anything decent has multiple sellers, a unique product/opportunity is usually a con. Caveat Emptor

    Comment 23 of 26

  • sam Posted at 12:34 PM Today

    I had an old friend who worked for a company called Infinity International – whenever I asked what they did he would be broad and secretive – turns out they just sell vitamins, but those vitamins are so good they don’t use traditional marketing, only word of mouth (sell to your friends and family) – just made no sense to me that if vitamins were so effective make a radio ad, a TV ad, don’t keep that a secret and try to seem legit

    Comment 24 of 26

  • Lauren of Melbourne Posted at 12:32 PM Today

    Not to mention that a huge number of these people selling herbalife and isagenix are firness trainers providing nutritional and dietary advice which falls outside their scope of practice as set by Fitness Australia. I’d hate to see what happens if something goes wrong and there is a lawsuit. Their insurance won’t cover them as they’ve been acting outside something they’re qualified to do

    Comment 25 of 26

  • John Posted at 12:30 PM Today

    “Of course, like any industry, there is good and bad to be found.” Tell us about the good. One example will do.

    Comment 26 of 26

Violent and Graphic video footage of couple being bashed in Melbourne karaoke bar released

The young thugs in this video must be found quickly. If you know who they are, and more importantly where they might be, contact police immediately or ring crime stoppers .We do not want them on our streets or on a night out our kids might be at. Disgraceful behaviour

Reporting crime or hoon behaviour
If you have any information regarding a crime, criminal activity, or hoon behaviour you can contact Crime Stoppers Victoria online or by calling on 1800 333 000 and confidentially report what you know.

Mon 19 Jan 2015, 3:38pm

Video footage of a man and woman being bashed in a vicious attack at a Melbourne karaoke bar has been released.

The couple in their 20s were drinking at the Elizabeth Street bar early on January 11 when they were assaulted.

Footage of the attack shows a 25-year-old man being punched and stomped on by a group of men until he was unconcious on the floor.

The man’s girlfriend can be seen trying to protect him on the ground.

A man is then seen to grab her by the hair and throw her to the floor, before she is punched and kicked by the group.

Shortly before the brawl, the couple was sitting at a table with their attackers.

Detective Senior Constable Matt Folvig said it was unclear what started it, but words were exchanged beforehand.

“Apparently they’ve just said something that was disagreed with and they’ve just turned on the pair,” he said.

Police released images and CCTV footage in the hope of identifying the people involved.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Artist and wife of embassy official Jane Hardy, Vytas Kapociunas allegedly molested child

After months and months of diplomatic bullshit at our expense, this sick pervert is going down.A sleazy “Artist” again, happened to be married to an Aussie diplomat. So what happens, Harm minimisation of course to the image…Fuck that…read on

Husband of Australian diplomat to stand trial on child sex offences

January 15, 2015 – 11:30AM

Courts reporter for The Canberra Times.

Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy.Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy. Photo: Facebook

The husband of a top Australian diplomat accused of molesting a child while overseas has been committed to stand trial.

Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 71, maintained pleas of not guilty to three charges of sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia when he appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The offences are alleged to have occurred overseas, but are before the ACT courts as the charges fall under Commonwealth law.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker on Thursday committed him to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court.

Kapociunas was arrested at Canberra Airport in September last year.

Court documents said the allegation surfaced after the girl told her mother that the artist kept kissing her.

When questioned further, the girl allegedly said he “kisses me on the lips, and here,” pointing at her groin.

The mother reported the conversation to the Australian Federal Police.

Kapociunas, in a police interview, allegedly acknowledged he had had physical contact with the girl that included kissing in greeting and farewelling, piggy-back rides, and blowing raspberries on her belly button.

But he denied abusing the girl.

He was originally charged with one count of child sex and first appeared in court in October.

Two additional charges were laid in December.

The painter and sculptor is married to top Australian diplomat, Jane Hardy, who, in November, ceased her role as Australia’s ambassador to Spain and returned home almost two years into a three-year appointment.

Ms Hardy’s identity and diplomatic position were previously subject to a court suppression order, but that has now been lifted.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have emphasised that “no allegations of inappropriate or illegal behaviour” have been made against Ms Hardy.

Lithuanian-born Kapociunas studied art in South Australian and lived Spain, France and Britain before he wed Ms Hardy in 1982.

He has since accompanied her on diplomatic postings to Malaysia, South Korean, the United States, and Spain .

He work has been exhibited at the Australian embassy in Washington.

On Thursday, Ms Walker continued the defendants bail, but added the condition that he notify the court if he changes address.

The case will appear in the Supreme Court for directions next month.


Australian diplomat returned from posting after husband charged over child-sex allegations

January 14, 2015 – 4:31PM

Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy.Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy. Photo: Facebook

One of Australia’s top diplomats has returned early from an overseas posting after her spouse was arrested and charged with child sex offences. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed that Jane Hardy ceased duty as Australia’s ambassador to Spain on November 3, 2014, less than two years into what would normally be a three-year appointment.

A DFAT spokesperson declined to answer Fairfax Media questions about the precise circumstances leading to the ambassador’s return to Australia, only saying Ms Hardy “returned by mutual agreement with the department.”

Charged: Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 71, is accused of child sex offences.

Charged: Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 71, is accused of child sex offences.

However it is a matter of public record that the Australian Federal Police arrested Ms Hardy’s husband, artist Vytas Kapociunas, on September 20, 2014, in relation to an allegation of sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia. 

Mr Kapociunas, now aged 71, appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court in Canberra on October 3 in relation to one charge of sexual intercourse with a child outside of Australia. Two additional charges of sexual intercourse with a child outside of Australia were laid against Mr Kapociunas in December. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges. 

The sculptor and painter first came to police attention after the girl told her mother that she had a secret to tell her.

“I need to tell you a secret,” the child said, according to court documents. “I think Vytas really likes me, because he keeps kissing me.”

The AFP say the mother questioned her daughter further, and the girl allegedly said: “He kisses me on the lips, and here,” pointing to her groin.

The mother contacted the AFP who opened an investigation and interviewed the girl.

Mr Kapociunas was informed of the allegations on September 17 and was met by AFP officers at Canberra Airport three days later.  He agreed to an interview in which, according to police, he acknowledged he had met the girl three times and had physical contact with her including kissing.  However he denied he had committed any child sex offences, saying he was “unsure” why the girl would say such things. He was then arrested. 

Born in Lithuania in 1943, Mr Kapociunas studied at the South Australian School of Art and spent his early post-graduate years in Spain, France and Britain . He married Ms Hardy in 1982 and accompanied her on diplomatic postings to Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Washington DC and most recently Madrid.  In 2008 his sculpture Passage through Fire was exhibited at the Australian embassy in Washington.

Ms Hardy’s identity and position were subject to a temporary court suppression order, now no longer in force. not anymore

DFAT has emphasised that “no allegations of inappropriate or illegal behaviour” have been made against Ms Hardy who assumed duty as ambassador to Spain in January 2013.

“Ms Hardy performed creditably in her role in Spain and, following her return, has taken up a suitably senior position in Canberra,” a departmental spokesperson said.

DFAT’s organisation chart shows Ms Hardy is now in charge of the department’s arms control and counter-proliferation branch.

Her executive assistant told Fairfax Media she is not currently in Canberra and cannot be contacted.

A new ambassador to Spain has not yet been appointed.

Mr Kapociunas’s solicitor, Chloe Preston, declined to comment. His case is listed for a further procedural hearing in the Magistrates Court on January 15.


Artist pleads not guilty to child sex offences allegedly linked to overseas Australian embassy

December 4, 2014

Reporter for The Canberra Times.

An Australian artist has been accused of two more sexual offences against a child connected to an overseas Australian embassy.

Sculptor and painter Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 70, is facing the ACT Magistrates Court, accused of molesting a child overseas.

He was charged on Thursday with two additional offences of sexual intercourse with a minor outside of Australia, meaning he is now charged with three offences.

Kapociunas, represented by lawyer Chloe Preston, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

He first came to police attention when his alleged victim told her mother she had a secret.

“I need to tell you a secret,” the girl allegedly said.

“I think Vytas really likes me, because he keeps kissing me.”

She also allegedly told her mother:

“He kisses me on the lips and here”, pointing to her groin.

Police went to meet Kapociunas at Canberra Airport earlier this year and he agreed to an interview, court documents suggest.

He told police he had no idea why the girl had been saying such things. Kapociunas denied her allegations.

He was arrested and initially charged with a single count of having sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia, which is a Commonwealth offence.

The artist allegedly told police he piggy-backed the girl, blew raspberries on her belly button, and that she kissed him on the lips when saying hello and goodbye.

The case was adjourned by Magistrate Robert Cook until January.


Artist Vytas Kapociunas allegedly molested child linked to overseas embassy

October 17, 2014

Christopher Knaus

An Australian artist has been accused of molesting a child connected to an overseas embassy.

Well-known sculptor and painter Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 70, was arrested earlier this year after a young girl at an Australian embassy alleged he sexually assaulted her.

Kapociunas, who is fighting the allegation, first came to police attention after the girl told her mother that she had a secret to tell her.

“I need to tell you a secret,” the girl said, according to court documents. “I think Vytas really likes me, because he keeps kissing me.”

Police say the mother questioned her daughter further, and the girl said:

“He kisses me on the lips, and here”, pointing to her groin.

The offence is alleged to have occurred overseas, but is now being prosecuted in the ACT under Commonwealth law.

The mother called the Australian Federal Police, who began investigating, and went to meet Kapociunas at Canberra Airport last month.

He agreed to an interview and denied the allegations, claiming he had no idea why the girl would say such things.

Police arrested the artist, and he is currently before the ACT Magistrates Court on one charge of sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia, an offence under the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

He appeared before Magistrate Peter Morrison on Friday morning, and pleas of not guilty were entered on his behalf.

The artist told police during an interview that he had piggy-backed the victim and blown raspberries on her belly button, and that she kissed him on the lips when saying hello and goodbye.

But he denied to police that he had committed any child sex offences.

The court heard on Friday the brief of evidence against him was mostly prepared, and the case was adjourned until December. 

Kapociunas is an artist who has worked across Australia and the world, and studied and taught in South Australia.

He has also studied at the University of Canberra, according to his earlier news reports, and has written children’s books.



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