Two men jailed for importing $122 million worth of ecstasy from Italy in tomato tins


The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins.

The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins. (Australian Customs)

Related Story: Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul

Two men involved in the importation of more than four tonnes of ecstasy hidden in tomato tins have been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail.

Customs officers at the Port of Melbourne intercepted the ecstasy in the form of 15 million tablets hidden in 3,000 tins arriving from Naples, Italy, in 2007.

The drugs, found packed in a shipping container, weighed more than 4.4 tonnes and had an estimated street value of $122 million.

It was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world at the time of the seizure.

In 2012 the drug ring’s leader Pasquale Barbaro was sentenced to life in prison.

South Australian Carmelo Falanga, 49, was today sentenced to 23 years in prison with a minimum sentence of 16 years and six months.

Jon Visser, 63, of New South Wales, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison with a minimum eight years.

Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul

Updated Wed 1 May 2013, 8:15am

Trio jailed over ecstasy haul

Jailed drug smugglers (L-R) Salvatore Agresta, John Higgs, and Pasquale Sergi.

Three men have been jailed over their attempt to smuggle the world’s biggest haul of ecstasy into Australia.

A Victorian Supreme Court jury found the trio guilty of conspiring to smuggle more than 15 million ecstasy tablets into Australia from Italy in 2007.

The drugs weighed more than 4.4 tonnes, had an estimated street value of $122 million and were hidden inside tomato tins.

At the time of the seizure, it was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world.

Pasquale Sergi, Salvatore Agresta and John Higgs were sentenced to a combined total of 40 years in jail.

“You were all involved in a crime in which every one was playing for the highest stakes we have ever known in this country,” Justice Betty King said.

“That of obtaining possession of 15 million plus tablets of ecstasy

“You must have all been aware of the risk and the consequences of [your] involvement.

“You chose to take that risk and now you must all bear the consequences.”

Higgs, 65, who has a criminal history including a conviction for manslaughter, was sentenced to 18 years in jail with a non-parole period of 14 years.

Agresta, 44, who ran an Ascot Vale Deli where gangland identity Des Moran was shot dead in 2009, was sentenced to 12 years in jail to serve at least 8 years.

Sergi, 49, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, to serve a minimum 6 years and 9 months.

A fourth man who can not be named has also been jailed over the conspiracy.

The two ringleaders, New South Wales men Pasquale Barbaro and Saverio Zirilli, have already been jailed.

Drug dealer sentenced to life for world’s largest ecstasy haul

Updated Fri 25 May 2012, 9:05am AEST

It can now be revealed that drug king-pin Pasquale Barbaro, of Griffith, in New South Wales, is serving a life sentence for importing the world’s biggest ecstasy haul into Australia.

A suppression order on the sentence was lifted today, after a jury found four of his co-accused guilty of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.

Barbaro, 50, originally of Griffith, in NSW, pleaded guilty to charges including the importation of 15 million ecstasy tablets.

The drugs, which were estimated to be worth at least $122 million, were hidden in cans labelled as “peeled tomatoes” from Italy.

Barbaro will serve a minimum term of 30 years in jail.

In sentencing, Justice King said he was at the top of a “very well organised worldwide criminal group”.

“You, Pasquale Barbaro were at the apex of that criminality, at the very top of the tree in this country,” she said.

“Your purpose in attempting to possess the goods was to ensure financial riches of a quite astronomical order.”

Barbaro’s co-accused, Saverio Zirilli, 55, was sentenced to 26 years in jail with a minimum of 18 years.

Both men were also convicted of attempted possession of nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine, hidden in bags of Columbian coffee beans.

Four others have been found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.

Ecstasy life sentence appeal rejected

Posted Thu 20 Dec 2012, 4:40pm AEDT

A man who was involved in Australia’s biggest ecstasy haul has failed to have his sentence reduced by Victoria’s Court of Appeal.

Pasquale Barbaro was charged after millions of ecstasy tablets hidden in tomato cans, were intercepted by Australian Federal Police in 2008.

Barbaro was given a life term in February with a non-parole period of 30 years, but appealed against the severity of the sentence.

The appeal was rejected last month, and can be reported now because a non-publication order has been lifted.

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Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes – FOUND guilty -Update gets min 6yrs jail


Cast of TV show Hey Dad, including Robert Hughes, Sarah Monahan and Simone Buchanan.

Update Finally Jailed today 16/05/14

Robert Hughes, former Hey Dad! star, to serve at least six years in jail over child sexual and indecent assault

Updated 16 minutes ago

Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has been jailed for up to 10 years and 9 months for child sex offences.

Sleep well in jail "Hey Dad" Robert Huges

Sleep well in jail “Hey Dad” Robert Huges

The 65-year-old, who was last month convicted of 10 sexual and indecent assault charges dating back to the 1980s, will have to serve a minimum of six years behind bars.

District Court Judge Peter Zahra outlined each of the guilty charges against Hughes in his sentencing remarks, and raised the testimony of one victim who said she was too young to fight him off.

He said Hughes took advantage of opportunities with children and engaged in predatory behaviour and had “not expressed remorse”.

Judge Zahra also noted Hughes is in protective custody in jail and will continue to feel “social isolation”.

Hughes showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down.

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

The charges relate to the abuse of girls dating back to the 1980s, when Hughes appeared on one of Australia’s most popular television sitcoms.

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

Dozens of people packed into the Sydney courtroom for the sentencing, prompting the closure of the public gallery on safety grounds.

Earlier this month Hughes’s sentencing hearing heard harrowing victim impact statements from girls still suffering from the abuse they endured.

One woman, now 37, said she would never have children because of Hughes, and had come to hate the word “dad”.

Another told the court that she wished Hughes “nothing but misery”.

“I hate anyone looking at me. I have no self worth,” she said.

“I never thought I’d see this day. For 26 years I’ve tried to deal with the fact that this just happened. Maybe now I can try to piece my life together again, to not feel ashamed or dirty.

“I hope the punishment fits the crime and you will have to suffer for years to come just like I have … I wish you nothing but misery.”

The jury initially returned a guilty verdict on nine of the charges against Hughes, before taking one more day to find him guilty of a final indecency charge dating back to 1990.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on one charge of indecency charge.

One of the victims who Hughes indecently assaulted was seven when he put her hand on his genitals.

Another child was nine when Hughes told her to swim between his legs at Manly Beach. His swimmers were pulled down.

During the trial the court heard of sleepovers at Hughes’s home where the actor would walk naked into the room where the girls were sleeping and expose himself to them.

Hughes denied this, saying he slept naked and often used the bathroom at night but would never walk into the room where the girls were staying.

The trial lasted almost six weeks.

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

The actor is expected to appeal against the sentence.

3PM 07/04/14

UPDATE HUGHES FOUND GUILTY ON 10 OF 11 CHARGES
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.

 

 

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Crime syndicate smashed by NSW police in $15m drug haul


Another one bites the dust, I love this news, it means less poison drugs containing who knows what is off our streets and not in our kids bodies. The one crap thing is we have very weak sentencing here for drug offenses, this strike force is ongoing with more arrests, get ready for the tap on the shoulder or guns in your faces boys!

One of the three men arrested at Gundagai yesterday

One of the three men arrested at Gundagai yesterday

Police say they have arrested 12 people over a $15-million drug haul seized in southern New South Wales.

Detectives began investigating what they have described as a major drug supply syndicate in 2012, forming Strike Force Oceanic.

They say the group has been producing and selling massive quantities of cannabis and the drug ice throughout the state’s south.

Police say the nine kilograms of ice seized would be worth around $9 million on the street.

Police say the nine kilograms of ice seized would be worth around $9 million on the street.

<

p>Officers pounced yesterday, arresting three men and allegedly seizing nine kilograms of ice, with an estimated street value of $9 million, in a raid at Gundagai.

Luigi Gino Fato, 62, and 40-year-old Hank Peter Pickett appeared briefly on serious drug charges in Wagga Wagga Local Court this morning.

No bail application was made and both men will remain in custody until they appear in Batemans Bay Local Court later this month.

The third man, a 63-year-old from Malua Bay, is yet to appear in court.

Detectives say the men are key players in the syndicate.

Police also raided another 11 properties yesterday in Sydney, Canberra and near Griffith, Cowra and Batemans Bay.

At a rural property at Crowther south of Cowra about 2,750 cannabis plants, with an estimated value of $5.5 million, were allegedly discovered.

Wagga Wagga Local Court heard this morning that Young Police Station is having difficulty storing such a large quantity of the drug.

Officers also seized seven guns, 60 kilograms of gunpowder, 90,000 rounds of ammunition and a number of vehicles, machines and documents during the raids.

A 36-year-old man was arrested at Sans Souci in Sydney’s south and charged with enhanced indoor cultivation that exposes a child over a hydroponic cannabis set-up allegedly found in the home.

He was then released on bail to face Kogarah Local Court next month.

In the nearby suburb of Miranda another man, also 36, was arrested and charged with enhanced indoor cultivation and drug possession.

He is free on bail and is due to face Sutherland Local Court next month.

A 40-year-old man was arrested in the ACT suburb of Palmerston and charged with drug supply offences.

He faced Queanbeyan Local Court yesterday.

A 46-year-old arrested at a Batemans Bay home was charged with drug supply.

He is being held in custody to face Narooma Local Court today.

Five other people had already charged over the syndicate before yesterday’s raids.

Simon Gittany gets 26 years’ jail (min 18) for murdering Lisa Harnum


The previous post can be found here
Gets 26 years, min of 18 years before parole. Inadequate in my view. new girlfriend Rachelle Louise was not in court, ching ching,
If you have a spare 30 minutes watch the first part of the $150,000 interview and story right here folks, a real eye opener
17/02/14 update new interview with the 2 detectives who saw his violent side nearly 20 years ago, when Gittany bit part of one detectives ear OFF while being arrested…yeah the guy Rachelle said would make a fantastic dad.Until the little kid piddled his pants or something….

16/02/14 UPDATED WITH 2ND PART AFTER THE FIRST BELOW

GUILTY SIGN

Hopefully she will collect a big fat cheque today from TV today, pocket it, and never utter his name again, gotcha Gittany

Official Sentence summary  from today can be found below, full transcript to follow once released folks. (click for bigger view)

Gittany Sentence Summary 11-02-14

Simon Gittany sentenced to at least 18 years for fiancée Lisa Harnum’s murder

Murderer Simon Gittany’s violent past revealed

Simon Gittany has been sentenced to 26 years’ jail, with a non-parole period of 18 years, for the murder of his fiancée Lisa Harnum.

Simon Gittany and Lisa Harnum. Sentenced to 26 years for tossing her off a highrise balcony

Simon Gittany and Lisa Harnum. Sentenced to 26 years for tossing her off a highrise balcony

Gittany threw Ms Harnum to her death from the balcony of their 15th floor apartment in inner Sydney on a Saturday morning in July 2011.

NSW Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum, who presided over Gittany’s judge-only trial last year, today also handed down his punishment.

Justice McCallum said that jailing Gittany for life would be excessive, but his family in the court’s public gallery still erupted when she delivered the sentence.

“In the name of Jesus, that will never happen,” one family member yelled.

The judge ordered the family members to be removed from the court.

Earlier Justice McCallum had described the cruelty of the crime.

“Ms Harnum must have been in a state of complete terror in the moments before her death,” she said.

Justice McCallum described Gittany as “arrogant” and said he had punished Ms Harnum during their relationship for “small acts of defiance” such as wearing her hair down.

The court heard about Gittany’s previous potential for violence, including an incident in which he bit off part of a policeman’s ear in 1994.

“It has a troubling resonance with the present offence,” Justice McCallum said.

The judge told the court that she had excluded evidence from a surprise prosecution witness last week – a former colleague of Ms Harnum who said Gittany had previously threatened to kill Ms Harnum and make it look like suicide.

The businessman’s current girlfriend, Rachelle Louise, who has fiercely defended Gittany and has been by his side for much of his trial, was not in court for the sentencing.

Gittany himself was led up from the cells beneath the courtroom, but showed no emotion as he listened to the judge’s comments.

AMY DALE
The Daily Telegraph
February 07, 2014

BALCONY killer Simon Gittany could spend 20 years in jail for the “cold and calculating” murder of his fiancee – a killing he almost successfully portrayed as suicide, his sentencing was told yesterday.

Justice Lucy McCallum also indicated the decision of Gittany’s family to “embark on a campaign” that doggedly protests his innocence over the killing of Lisa Harnum could be viewed as “an impediment to rehabilitation”.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC told the court it could be “very much guided” by the standard non-parole period for murder in NSW, which is 20 years.

In his closing sentencing submissions, Mr Tedeschi said Gittany had used “the height and gravity” of the 15th storey balcony as a weapon in throwing Ms Harnum to her death seconds after she had been “screaming for her life”.

Rachelle Louise arrives for the second day of sentencing submissions in boyfriend Simon Gittany’s case.

Rachelle Louise has been a very vocal supporter of Simon Gittany.

Rachelle Louise seemed to be in a good mood when she arrived at court today.

“Were it not for the observations of (witness) Joshua Rathmell and were it not for the pinhole camera which captured the offender dragging the deceased back inside … it was a cold and calculating way of killing her in a manner which would have enabled him to pass it off as suicide,” Mr Tedeschi said.

Justice McCallum said Gittany had “a defiant denial of guilt” and, along with his family and girlfriend Rachelle Louise, appeared determined to “maintain the rage until (in his mind) justice is done”.

Prosecutors say Gittany has shown no contrition or remorse, which makes it hard to assess his rehabilitation prospects, but his barrister has asked the court to hand down a sentence “significantly lower” than the 20-year minimum.

Barrister Philip Strickland SC said Gittany’s criminal record, which includes a conviction for biting part of a policeman’s ear off in 1994, shouldn’t be given much weight upon sentence.

The court heard the relationship he has with Ms Louise has “no features at all of an abusive relationship”.

More than 40 character references were tendered to the court on Gittany’s behalf, with Justice McCallum saying some appear “to be asking for mercy on the basis I might be wrong (in the guilty verdict).”

Mr Strickland said references spoke of a gentle Gittany with dreams of being a priest.

Mr Tedeschi said the references suggest “the offender is two completely different people. One person to his family and a completely different person presenting in the relationship (with Lisa Harnum).

Former Katungul health service CEO Damien Matcham fined over embezzlement


Former Katungul CEO cops $1.2m penalty

Feb. 5, 2014,

IN A ground-breaking decision, the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday ordered Damien Matcham, the former CEO of the Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Services, to pay over $1.2million in fines and compensation.

Former Katungul CEO Damien Matcham

Former Katungul CEO Damien Matcham

Mr Matcham was also banned from being involved in the management of any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation for 15 years.

The proceedings in the Federal Court were brought by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Beven.

Justice Jacobson ordered Mr Matcham:

• pay compensation of $705,905.07 to Katungul;

• pay a pecuniary penalty of $500,000 to the Commonwealth;

• be disqualified from managing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation for a period of 15 years; and

• pay the Registrar’s legal costs in the matter.

In an earlier judgment, on September 11, 2013, Justice Jacobson found Mr Matcham had not exercised due care and diligence, had not acted in good faith in the best interests of Katungul, and had improperly used his position as the CEO of Katungul.

In handing down his decision on Wednesday, Justice Jacobson said, “The seriousness of Mr Matcham’s behaviour, the abuse of trust which it involved and the absence of any real contrition or appreciation of his wrongdoing, all point toward a lengthy period of disqualification.”

“Katungul’s funds were deliberately misused by Mr Matcham to confer benefits on himself to the detriment of Katungul’s charitable objectives,” Justice Jacobson said.

Mr Matcham was found to have paid unauthorised bonus and time in lieu payments to himself of more than $515,000 from 2008 to 2011.

He also received unauthorised payments for excess superannuation, recreation leave and other non-salary payments.

Mr Matcham incurred personal expenses on Katungul’s credit card and signed a mortgage over a Katungul property to secure a $200,000 bank overdraft for the corporation.

Katungul is a not-for-profit corporation that provides essential primary and secondary health services to Aboriginal people in the Far South Coast.

“This is a significant decision and the scale of the orders is unprecedented in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporate sector,” Mr Beven said.

“This should send a very clear message that there are serious consequences for corporation officers that fail to meet the standards expected of them.”

Former Katungul health service CEO Damien Matcham fined over embezzlement

ABC news

5th Feb 2014

The former chief executive of an Aboriginal healthcare service has been ordered to pay $1.2 million for embezzling from the organisation.

Damien Matcham awarded himself unauthorised bonuses while working at the Katungul Aboriginal Community Corporation, which provides health care to Indigenous people in New South Wales.

At one point he claimed pay for working more than 24 hours a day.

The Federal Court ordered Matcham pay $705,905 in compensation to the organisation, pay the Commonwealth $500,000, and also pay legal costs.

Matcham has also been disqualified from managing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations for 15 years.

“It is plain that Mr Matcham abused his position of trust by obtaining payments of large amounts to which he was not entitled and which were obtained for his personal use,” the written judgment said.

“His breaches of trust were committed over a period of four years in circumstances which demonstrate that he should have been aware that he was not entitled to the payments.”

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Bevan, says it is the worst case of individual embezzlement from an Aboriginal corporation he has seen.

“Katungul was in a situation where it had $2,400 to its name and it had gone from multi-million-dollar organisation to having $2,400 to its name, and it was on the verge of insolvency,” he said.

“In our submissions to the court that was largely due to the actions of Mr Matcham.”

Katungul future resolved

By Vesna Andric

Sept. 18, 2013

FORMER chief executive officer of the Katungul Aboriginal Health Service, Damien Matcham, has admitted misappropriating more than $700,000 from the service between June 2007 and February 2012.

On Wednesday, September 11 at the Sydney Federal Court Justice Jacobson made 25 declarations of contraventions against Mr Matcham, which included unauthorised payments for bonuses, time in lieu, superannuation, recreation leave and life insurance, in excess of $700,000.

Justice Jacobson declared that Mr Matcham had not acted in good faith and in the best interests of the corporation and had improperly used his position as CEO to gain a personal advantage and cause detriment to Katungul.

Mr Matcham admitted his guilt last week after initially defending his position.

The penalties for Mr Matcham’s actions will be considered during court proceedings in November.

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Mr Anthony Beven, is seeking orders to see Mr Matcham fined and forced to pay compensation to Katungul, as well as being banned from managing companies and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander corporations.

“He agreed to a statement of facts in which he admitted that his conduct breached the CATSI Act,” Mr Beven said.

“He should repay all of the money back to Katungul with interest. Even if he repays one dollar, that’s one dollar that will go back to those who need it for medical treatment,” Mr Beven said.

Maximum fines for each contravention are $200,000, with 25 declarations made Mr Matcham stands to face a considerable fine.

Whether the funds will be recouped is yet to be seen.

“He’s defended the proceedings all the way up until last week, so it has been a very expensive process for him and for us,” Mr Beven said.

Mr Matcham did not respond to requests for comment from the Narooma News.

Mr Beven said the court action sent a clear message. “There are serious consequences if CEOs misuse their position,” he said.

Staff that discovered the financial losses, including former and current directors of Katungul, were praised and thanked for their work in restoring Katungul’s integrity.

“When they became aware that money that was to be used to improve the health of their community was being diverted to one person they notified my office. They also provided invaluable support during the Federal Court proceedings,” Mr Beven said.

“This is a good outcome and it is pleasing to see that truth and justice have prevailed for Katungul and its members and clients,” he said.

Katungul is a multimillion dollar not-for-profit corporation that provides essential primary and secondary health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on the far south coast of NSW from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border.

Since the losses were exposed Katungul has restored its services and is now in a strong financial position. It has expanded its range and types of health services.

Now operating with new CEO Jon Rogers, who was appointed in August 2012, Katungul is restoring trust and rebuilding itself as a holistic service providing numerous support services.

“It’s about trust and the real story here is about the healing that’s happening,” Mr Rogers said.

Among some of the changes is a significant increase in services.

“We have doubled the number of GP clinics,” Mr Rogers said.

Time line of events

September 2011 – Katungul CEO Damien Matcham takes leave.

September 2011 – Government agencies instigate audit after receiving complaints from employees, elders and board members.

October 2011 – The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Mr Anthony Beven starts examination of the corporation.

December 2011 – Katungul placed under special administration following discovery of misappropriation of funds.

January 2012 – Mr Beven starts Federal Court proceedings against Mr Matcham obtaining orders freezing bank accounts and property.

February 2012 – Mr Matcham’s contract as CEO of Katungul is terminated.

August 2012 – New CEO Jon Rogers appointed

October 2012 – Community control is returned to Katungul.

September 2013 – Mr Matcham faces Sydney Federal Court and admits misappropriation of funds totalling $700,000

Katungul CEO faces civil proceedings

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Mr Anthony Beven, today announced that he has commenced further proceedings in the Federal Court in Sydney against Mr Damien Matcham, the former CEO of Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Services (Katungul). The proceedings relate to alleged contraventions of civil penalty provisions in the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act).

Katungul is based in Narooma, NSW and operates medical centres in Narooma and Bega for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the far south coast.

The proceedings against Mr Matcham follow an investigation by the Registrar into several ‘bonus’ and other payments made to Mr Matcham totalling more than $500 000. Mr Matcham also signed a mortgage on behalf of the corporation to secure a $200 000 bank overdraft.

The Registrar has asked the Federal Court for a number of orders against Mr Matcham.

The Registrar is seeking declarations from the court that Mr Matcham had contravened his duties as an officer of Katungul. The Registrar is also seeking a pecuniary penalty of up to $200 000, compensation orders and an order disqualifying Mr Matcham from managing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations.

‘Katungul is a not-for-profit community-controlled health service. The moneys that Mr Matcham received should have been used to provide health services to the Aboriginal people on the far south coast,’ Mr Beven said. ‘The priority for officers of corporations must always be the interests of their members and clients. I will take action, such as the current proceedings, where this does not occur.’

The proceedings have been listed for directions on Friday, 3 August 2012. Freezing orders against the property of Mr Matcham have been extended to that date.

Background

The corporation was placed under special administration on 12 December 2011 after an examination revealed poor corporate governance and weak financial management.

For more information please see the Registrar’s media releases of 25 January 2012 (ORIC MR1112-19), 3 February 2012 (ORIC MR1112-21) and 8 June 2012 (ORICMR1112-39).

Media contact
Christa de Jager
(02) 6146 4737
29 June 2012
Ref: ORIC MR1112-44

Katungal may be forced to close

By JOSH GIDNEY

April 6, 2011, 4:15 a.m.

FACING CLOSURE: Drug and alcohol worker Graham White, mental health nurse Jim Pearson, medical receptionist Jeanie Parsons, senior Aboriginal health worker Aunty Norma Parsons and registered nurse Nicole Peiti fear the days of the Katungal clinic at Moruya are numbered.

Katungal Aboriginal Corporation and Community and Medical Services will hold a community meeting at Moruya Showground tomorrow in a desperate bid to prevent its closure.

Katungal CEO Damien Matcham is blaming a broken promise made by the Department of Health and Ageing Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health for the economic woes which may see them close the Moruya clinic and transfer staff to their Narooma clinic.

“Katungal was promised recurrent funding for staffing and operational costs for the Moruya clinic, but it is now 2011 and it hasn’t been provided,” he said.

“We only ever ended up receiving one-off funding for lease costs for 12 months and four computers. Someone is getting rich with the money provided by the department, but it is not us.

“All the talk about closing the gap is just spin and talk,” he said of the Federal Government’s program aimed at reducing the gap between the life expectancies of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

There are Katungal Clinics in Moruya, Narooma and Bega, and Mr Matcham says he has had to take funding from the Narooma clinic to keep the Moruya clinic going.

He is now turning to the community for help.

“We are asking the community for their support to keep the Moruya clinic open,” Mr Matcham said.

“If we don’t get support and the required funding, we will have no choice but to close the clinic.”

The community meeting and barbecue will be held at Moruya Showground from 12.30pm to 2.30pm tomorrow.