Former state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Damien Mantach, busted embezzling $1.5 million in the election campaign funds.



money hungry 2

abc.net.au

Embezzlement allegation: The Liberal Party will have to rebuild trust

The Drum

Opinion

Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:58am

It’s the thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members who should feel most outraged at the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of campaign funds. And the party hierarchy will have to work hard to earn their trust back, writes Terry Barnes.

The Victorian Liberal Party is in a state of deep shock after revelations its former state director, Damien Mantach, is accused of embezzling $1.5 million of party funds over a number of years.

While investigations are continuing, Victorian Liberal president, Michael Kroger, has emailed party members saying that Mantach is the only person in the frame, and all will be done to recover as much of the missing funds as possible.

It appears a breathtaking $1.5 million of party funds was diverted for personal benefit. Victorian Liberal parliamentary leader, Matthew Guy, said that what was taken was “a very significant portion of the money raised by the party in fundraising … People did a lot of work to get that. We all feel completely gutted and furious”.

There certainly will be former Victorian Liberal MPs closely defeated in last November’s state election whose anger will be, like Guy’s, white-hot, sharing his view that the missing funds could have saved their campaigns. Current marginal seat federal MPs will feel likewise. But having escaped with their parliamentary pensions or severance packages, they personally got off lightly.

What really angers and disappoints about Mantach’s alleged actions is that they were not really stealing from a mere corporate entity, the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. Nor did they ruin the large corporate donors and high net worth individuals who donate to political parties, because that is part of what they do to build political networks, relationships and influence.

No, the grand embezzlement and the governance failures that allowed it to happen are above all an utter betrayal of, and insult to, thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members and supporters across Victoria who are not wealthy or personally powerful but are the soul of the party.

They’re the ones who turn out in all weather at election times to support MPs and candidates, door-knock, stuff letterboxes and talk up the Liberal cause to anyone who will listen.

They’re the ones who greet you at the polling booth on election days with a smile and a how-to-vote card, and look forward to bantering with voters and their counterparts from other parties.

They’re the ones who faithfully attend branch meetings, local party events, run the trivia and soup nights, and buy the tickets in the raffle that inevitably is a part of any political gathering – and donate back the prizes.

They’re the ones who drive up to hundreds of kilometres to attend party councils and pre-selection conventions.

They’re the ones who organise local electorate fundraising functions, work tirelessly to make them well-attended and successful, and cheerfully endure the proverbial rubber chicken and drinks at bar prices, because they buy their own tickets as well as sell them.

They’re the ones who pay membership subscriptions or respond to bigwigs’ circular appeals for donations. Many may not be able to afford to give much, but their trickles join to become a funding river for the party: a river, it seems, that can easily be dipped into by the unscrupulous.

And they’re the ones who are most entitled to feel gutted and angry at what has happened.

As a group, most ordinary members of the Liberal Party are older and more conservative than their MPs. They are often retired, and volunteer for party work because it gives them the satisfaction of furthering a cause, or an MP or candidate, they believe in passionately.

Others are young activists with stars in their eyes and idealism in their hearts.

Unlike the likes of Malcolm Turnbull, most Liberal rank-and-file members don’t have palatial mansions to go home to, nor much spare cash. Contrary to the Liberal silvertail image, many members and local Liberal supporters are students, pensioners or self-funded retirees on very modest incomes, and donate what they often can ill afford.

Yet they do so willingly and turn out for the party because they believe, as the Victorian Division’s website is bannered, that “The Liberal Party exists to provide high quality governments that empower people to solve the major challenges they face in their lives”.

This grassroots faith is what’s been shaken to its core by what has happened.

The Liberal organisation will recover and be reformed. As incoming Victorian president earlier this year, taking office just as Mantach left, Kroger was refreshingly open and honest with his members and the public as soon as the appalling situation was confirmed. That welcome candour is a good start to rebuilding trust in a crisis.

But just as with former Health Services Union leaders Craig Thomson, Michael Williamson and Kathy Jackson, this is yet another case of an elected or appointed official feeling somehow entitled to take advantage of the so-called “little people” who are their rank-and-file members, even though ultimately they owed everything to those they betrayed.

This week’s revelations, be they Mantach’s alleged activities or Jackson’s humiliation in court, should remind elected and appointed office holders in political parties and politically-active organisations alike that respecting the trust of their members and the public is fundamental to public life and a healthy democracy. Their position and status is a conferred privilege, not a personal fiefdom.

Fortunately, most of these office holders, across the political spectrum, work very hard to earn and retain that trust.

The Victorian Liberal Party will likely find, as the HSU has found, and indeed as federal MPs are finding with ongoing public anger over abused parliamentary “entitlements”, when the bond of trust with their ordinary members and supporters is broken, it is very, very hard to restore. But if it looks to its grass roots members, and respects and honours their values, aspirations and commitment in reforming its governance and accountability, the party will recover better and stronger for this scarifying experience.

Terry Barnes is a policy consultant, former senior Howard government adviser and member of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party. Twitter: @TerryBarnes5.


abc.net.au

Tasmanian Liberals assure members former state director repaid all money

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:23pm

The Tasmanian Liberals have assured members the party is not affected by allegations former state director Damien Mantach stole $1.5 million from the election fund of the Victorian Liberal Party.

The police fraud squad is investigating the allegations against Mr Mantach, who served as state director in both Tasmania and Victoria.

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

Tasmanian Liberal Party president Geoff Page used Facebook to confirmed that Mr Mantach did owe the Tasmanian branch money in 2008.

“I have today been advised that Mr Mantach had in 2008 a liability for personal expenses to the Tasmanian division totalling $47,981.78, which was fully repaid by Mr Mantach to the division upon his departure in March of that year,” he said.

Mr Page went on to assure members he was confident no other funds had gone missing.

“As the debt was settled in full the Division considered the matter closed,” he said.

“The Tasmanian division has robust internal financial processes which, in keeping with our obligations to our membership have been periodically reviewed and continually improved since 2008 and are annually audited.”


abc.net.au

Police to investigate Liberal Party $1.5m embezzlement claims

By Jean Edwards

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:27pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points:

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

He said the party believed Mr Mantach had acted alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We want our money back,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Mantach has been contacted for comment.


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 20/08/2015

Reporter: Madeleine Morris

Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blind-sided by claims a former Director stole $1.5 million of funds with the fraud squad investigating allegations and branch members asking if other financial dealings are suspect.

Transcript

SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blindsided by allegations its former director stole $1.5 million of party funds.

The party believes Damian Mantach siphoned off the money using fake invoices and Victoria police is now investigating.

Liberal politicians are furious and say the loss is a slap in the face to party members.

Late today, the Tasmanian Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses he racked up while director of that state’s party.

Madeleine Morris reports.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER: We’re white hot with anger. That’s just the start of it.

DENIS NAPTHINE, FORMER VICTORIAN PREMIER: I’m surprised, I’m shocked, I’m bitterly disappointed.

MADELEINE MORRIS, REPORTER: Sombre-faced and genuinely shocked, Victorian Liberal MPs arrived this morning to be briefed on the alleged theft of $1.5 million by one of their own.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER II: We just want to get to the truth and the bottom of the matter.

MICHAEL KROGER, LIBERAL PARTY VIC. BRANCH: Good morning, everybody. Well as you know, the Liberal Party is today referring some matters to the Victoria Police relating to the unauthorised removal of some party funds from the party head office, solely the work of one person. It should’ve been detected a long time ago. It wasn’t, which is regrettable. And the party’s obviously gonna make sure that this never happens again.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That person is Damien Mantach, the Victorian Liberal Party’s state director until March this year. The party believes that over a period of four years, Damien Mantach siphoned off money from Victorian Liberal headquarters via fake invoices for fake work.

The irregularities were uncovered when new state Liberal president Michael Kroger ordered a forensic audit of the accounts when he took over after last year’s disastrous state election.

NICK ECONOMOU, POLITICAL ANALYST: The state Liberal Party is in a bit of trouble and it’s been subject to a great deal of internal tension. There’d been problems within the parliamentary wing of the party. That contributed of course to the Liberals’ defeat at the last state election. And we also know that there were all sorts of tensions in the party organisation, the party membership.

DENIS NAPTHINE: I’m absolutely devastated, but particularly for the candidates across the state of Victoria who worked extremely hard, for the Liberal Party members and volunteers who worked extremely hard. This is a real shock to all of us.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That includes Angelo Kakouros, chair of the party’s South Barwon branch. He’s been fielding calls from party members all day.

ANGELO KAKOUROS, CHAIR, LIBERAL PARTY SOUTH BARWON BRANCH: It is a lack of trust and great, great disappointment.

MADELEINE MORRIS: But Mr Kakouros says his branch has been worried about the former state director for some time.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: I’ve had concerns with Damien Mantach for the last three to four years as a state director and personal experience and just the way things have operated and the communication between Damien, the administrative committee and some of the people within the organisation with their communication here locally in our area.

NICK ECONOMOU: It’s a very, very big task to try and keep track of what’s going on and to keep paid full-time officials answerable and accountable in what is essentially a voluntary organisation. The state treasurer of the Liberal Party would be a volunteer after all. Now, on top of this we’re getting increasing regulation to try and regulate the flow of donations. … But I suspect that that may be encouraging clever people to be a bit tricky here and try and find ways to squirrel resources away.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, Michael Kroger admitted there was a systemic problem with the Liberal Party accounting and changes were being made.

MICHAEL KROGER: More people in the accounting section and different oversights in relation to levels of authorised expenditure and a greater role for the party finance committee and more attention on these matters by the party executive.

MADELEINE MORRIS: It’s not the first time Damien Mantach has been in the headlines. Two years ago, he was investigated and ultimately cleared over payments he authorised to a former Liberal staffer who quit after being implicated in a scandal that snared the Police Minister.

And late today, the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay nearly $48,000 in personal expenses when he was Tasmanian branch state director.

The fallout today extended all the way from Spring Street to Canberra.

BRENDAN O’CONNOR, FEDERAL LABOR MP: In 2013 the Prime Minister said, and I quote, “I know Damien Mantach well. He’s a person of integrity. So let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence.” Does the Prime Minister agree that this ringing endorsement is yet another failure of judgment on his part?

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER: But I can inform the House that matters concerning the individual in question have this morning been referred to the Victorian Police.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, no answer at the Mantach family home and Damien Mantach couldn’t be reached on the phone.

There is palpable shock here in Victoria that this could’ve happened to the party which prides itself on good financial management, particularly amongst Liberal rank and file. One branch chair told me it was like finding out the priest had been stealing from the collection plate. But there’s also relief it’s been uncovered by the party’s new state leadership.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: Michael Kroger, the state president, he’s doing a fantastic job in order to bring honesty and transparency back into the party.

MADELEINE MORRIS: The impact for the party may yet be felt in the place it will hurt most: the coffers.

NICK ECONOMOU: The Liberal Party really does rely heavily on membership fees and donations, so I think something that might damage the reputation of the party’s fundraising ability could be really seriously damaging to the Liberal Party.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER III: I think this is simply a matter of we’ve been robbed. We want our money back and we want justice done. Police will investigate and i think that’s all I should say at this point in time.

SABRA LANE: Madeleine Morris reporting.


Rachael Brown reported this story on Thursday, August 20, 2015 12:20:47

 abc.net.au

 Fmr Vic Liberal state director accused of stealing $1.5m from party over four years
 TRANSCIPT

ELEANOR HALL: Let’s go now to Victoria where that state’s branch of the Liberal Party is having some trouble of its own.

The Liberal leader Matthew Guy has accused the former state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Damien Mantach, of embezzling $1.5 million in the election campaign funds.

Mr Guy says his party is “white hot” with anger, and that the funds could’ve made a difference in last year’s election.

In Melbourne, Rachael Brown reports.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal Party says discrepancies were uncovered during a forensic audit of the party’s funds after last year’s state election loss.

The party’s former state director Damien Mantach is being accused of stealing $1.5 million over four years, but the audit continues.

Mr Mantach has not responded to the ABC’s calls.

Liberal party members were called into a crisis meeting this morning, and heading in, the party leader Matthew Guy made no attempt to mask his feelings.

MATTHEW GUY: We are furious; we want our money back.

RACHAEL BROWN: The matter has been referred to the Victoria Police Fraud and Extortion Squad, which says it’s investigating the disappearance of funds, but can’t comment further.

Mr Guy says, if the allegations prove true, it’s a massive betrayal of trust.

MATTHEW GUY: An enormous part of our election war chest, enormous. People did a lot of work to get that. I mean, we have a fundraising team who’ve done a huge amount of work; they’re always under a lot of scrutiny as you can imagine, and a lot of pressure.

But they’ve done a huge amount of work. We’ve got a lot of supporters, a lot of branch people who have worked their guts out for this party. And for what it appears to be one individual to do this to us leaves us bitterly cold.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal party leader says the funds could’ve changed last year’s election result, which saw Labor’s Daniel Andrews dismissing the Napthine Coalition government.

Denis Napthine, who led the Victoria’s first one-term government in 60 years, says the fraud allegation is shocking and bitterly disappointing.

The party’s new president, Michael Kroger, has released a statement saying, when the audit turned up suspicious transactions amounting to $1.5 million between 2010 and 2014, Damien Mantach was asked to explain himself.

It was after this discussion that the party’s administrative committee voted to refer the matter to police.

Mr Kroger admits there’s a weakness with the Liberal Party’s checks and balances.

MICHAEL KROGER: Yeah, well on this occasion they clearly failed. So yep, quite up front about that. I’ve only been in the job four months, as you know. This has been going on for four years, so you know, it should have been picked up before and wasn’t, unfortunately.

RACHAEL BROWN: But he says there won’t be a clean out of branch holders, that the alleged fraud didn’t extend to other employees, officials or office bearers, and was limited to the party’s Melbourne headquarters.

He says civil action hasn’t been decided on.

MICHAEL KROGER: We’re sensitive to a number of issues, including the fact the person involved has a wife and family, and there are other matters which we want to take into account. But yes, we’ll be recovering a good deal of the funds in a cooperative relationship with the person involved.

RACHAEL BROWN: Mr Kroger says he doesn’t know where the money’s gone.

And he’s hit back at a suggestion that this is in a similar vein to the trade union boss Kathy Jackson being forced to repay $1.4 million of misappropriated members’ funds.

MICHAEL KROGER: When the Liberal party becomes aware of a serious matter like this, what do we do?

We investigate it quickly, we report it to the appropriate authorities, who in this case will be the Victoria Police. We don’t hide it; we don’t ignore it; we deal with it.

On the other hand, it’s taken a royal commission at massive public expense bringing these union and Labor leaders kicking and screaming before the public to get any type of information from them at all, at massive public expense. And even now they want to sack the umpire.

RACHAEL BROWN: One commentator has told The World Today that there might be more to this than meets the eye.

Damian Mantach stepped down from the director’s job in March. A couple of years ago he was one of the senior Liberals secretly recorded during the police command crisis that led to Ted Baillieu resigning as premier.

The commentator says this audit and slur on a former power player in the executive committee might have more to do with the ongoing power struggle and factional rifts at the upper levels of the Victorian Liberal party.

ELEANOR HALL: Rachael Brown with that report.


Damien Mantach embezzlement -Finger pointing begins over Liberals’ stolen cash


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

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

Embezzlement allegation: The Liberal Party will have to rebuild trust

The Drum

Opinion

Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:58am

It’s the thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members who should feel most outraged at the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of campaign funds. And the party hierarchy will have to work hard to earn their trust back, writes Terry Barnes.

The Victorian Liberal Party is in a state of deep shock after revelations its former state director, Damien Mantach, is accused of embezzling $1.5 million of party funds over a number of years.

While investigations are continuing, Victorian Liberal president, Michael Kroger, has emailed party members saying that Mantach is the only person in the frame, and all will be done to recover as much of the missing funds as possible.

It appears a breathtaking $1.5 million of party funds was diverted for personal benefit. Victorian Liberal parliamentary leader, Matthew Guy, said that what was taken was “a very significant portion of the money raised by the party in fundraising … People did a lot of work to get that. We all feel completely gutted and furious”.

There certainly will be former Victorian Liberal MPs closely defeated in last November’s state election whose anger will be, like Guy’s, white-hot, sharing his view that the missing funds could have saved their campaigns. Current marginal seat federal MPs will feel likewise. But having escaped with their parliamentary pensions or severance packages, they personally got off lightly.

What really angers and disappoints about Mantach’s alleged actions is that they were not really stealing from a mere corporate entity, the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. Nor did they ruin the large corporate donors and high net worth individuals who donate to political parties, because that is part of what they do to build political networks, relationships and influence.

No, the grand embezzlement and the governance failures that allowed it to happen are above all an utter betrayal of, and insult to, thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members and supporters across Victoria who are not wealthy or personally powerful but are the soul of the party.

They’re the ones who turn out in all weather at election times to support MPs and candidates, door-knock, stuff letterboxes and talk up the Liberal cause to anyone who will listen.

They’re the ones who greet you at the polling booth on election days with a smile and a how-to-vote card, and look forward to bantering with voters and their counterparts from other parties.

They’re the ones who faithfully attend branch meetings, local party events, run the trivia and soup nights, and buy the tickets in the raffle that inevitably is a part of any political gathering – and donate back the prizes.

They’re the ones who drive up to hundreds of kilometres to attend party councils and pre-selection conventions.

They’re the ones who organise local electorate fundraising functions, work tirelessly to make them well-attended and successful, and cheerfully endure the proverbial rubber chicken and drinks at bar prices, because they buy their own tickets as well as sell them.

They’re the ones who pay membership subscriptions or respond to bigwigs’ circular appeals for donations. Many may not be able to afford to give much, but their trickles join to become a funding river for the party: a river, it seems, that can easily be dipped into by the unscrupulous.

And they’re the ones who are most entitled to feel gutted and angry at what has happened.

As a group, most ordinary members of the Liberal Party are older and more conservative than their MPs. They are often retired, and volunteer for party work because it gives them the satisfaction of furthering a cause, or an MP or candidate, they believe in passionately.

Others are young activists with stars in their eyes and idealism in their hearts.

Unlike the likes of Malcolm Turnbull, most Liberal rank-and-file members don’t have palatial mansions to go home to, nor much spare cash. Contrary to the Liberal silvertail image, many members and local Liberal supporters are students, pensioners or self-funded retirees on very modest incomes, and donate what they often can ill afford.

Yet they do so willingly and turn out for the party because they believe, as the Victorian Division’s website is bannered, that “The Liberal Party exists to provide high quality governments that empower people to solve the major challenges they face in their lives”.

This grassroots faith is what’s been shaken to its core by what has happened.

The Liberal organisation will recover and be reformed. As incoming Victorian president earlier this year, taking office just as Mantach left, Kroger was refreshingly open and honest with his members and the public as soon as the appalling situation was confirmed. That welcome candour is a good start to rebuilding trust in a crisis.

But just as with former Health Services Union leaders Craig Thomson, Michael Williamson and Kathy Jackson, this is yet another case of an elected or appointed official feeling somehow entitled to take advantage of the so-called “little people” who are their rank-and-file members, even though ultimately they owed everything to those they betrayed.

This week’s revelations, be they Mantach’s alleged activities or Jackson’s humiliation in court, should remind elected and appointed office holders in political parties and politically-active organisations alike that respecting the trust of their members and the public is fundamental to public life and a healthy democracy. Their position and status is a conferred privilege, not a personal fiefdom.

Fortunately, most of these office holders, across the political spectrum, work very hard to earn and retain that trust.

The Victorian Liberal Party will likely find, as the HSU has found, and indeed as federal MPs are finding with ongoing public anger over abused parliamentary “entitlements”, when the bond of trust with their ordinary members and supporters is broken, it is very, very hard to restore. But if it looks to its grass roots members, and respects and honours their values, aspirations and commitment in reforming its governance and accountability, the party will recover better and stronger for this scarifying experience.

Terry Barnes is a policy consultant, former senior Howard government adviser and member of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party. Twitter: @TerryBarnes5.

Click image below to enlarge

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

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


abc.net.au

Tasmanian Liberals assure members former state director repaid all money

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:23pm

The Tasmanian Liberals have assured members the party is not affected by allegations former state director Damien Mantach stole $1.5 million from the election fund of the Victorian Liberal Party.

The police fraud squad is investigating the allegations against Mr Mantach, who served as state director in both Tasmania and Victoria.

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

Tasmanian Liberal Party president Geoff Page used Facebook to confirmed that Mr Mantach did owe the Tasmanian branch money in 2008.

“I have today been advised that Mr Mantach had in 2008 a liability for personal expenses to the Tasmanian division totalling $47,981.78, which was fully repaid by Mr Mantach to the division upon his departure in March of that year,” he said.

Mr Page went on to assure members he was confident no other funds had gone missing.

“As the debt was settled in full the Division considered the matter closed,” he said.

“The Tasmanian division has robust internal financial processes which, in keeping with our obligations to our membership have been periodically reviewed and continually improved since 2008 and are annually audited.”


abc.net.au

Police to investigate Liberal Party $1.5m embezzlement claims

By Jean Edwards

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:27pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points:

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

He said the party believed Mr Mantach had acted alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We want our money back,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Mantach has been contacted for comment.


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 20/08/2015

Reporter: Madeleine Morris

Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blind-sided by claims a former Director stole $1.5 million of funds with the fraud squad investigating allegations and branch members asking if other financial dealings are suspect.

Transcript

SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blindsided by allegations its former director stole $1.5 million of party funds.

The party believes Damian Mantach siphoned off the money using fake invoices and Victoria police is now investigating.

Liberal politicians are furious and say the loss is a slap in the face to party members.

Late today, the Tasmanian Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses he racked up while director of that state’s party.

Madeleine Morris reports.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER: We’re white hot with anger. That’s just the start of it.

DENIS NAPTHINE, FORMER VICTORIAN PREMIER: I’m surprised, I’m shocked, I’m bitterly disappointed.

MADELEINE MORRIS, REPORTER: Sombre-faced and genuinely shocked, Victorian Liberal MPs arrived this morning to be briefed on the alleged theft of $1.5 million by one of their own.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER II: We just want to get to the truth and the bottom of the matter.

MICHAEL KROGER, LIBERAL PARTY VIC. BRANCH: Good morning, everybody. Well as you know, the Liberal Party is today referring some matters to the Victoria Police relating to the unauthorised removal of some party funds from the party head office, solely the work of one person. It should’ve been detected a long time ago. It wasn’t, which is regrettable. And the party’s obviously gonna make sure that this never happens again.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That person is Damien Mantach, the Victorian Liberal Party’s state director until March this year. The party believes that over a period of four years, Damien Mantach siphoned off money from Victorian Liberal headquarters via fake invoices for fake work.

The irregularities were uncovered when new state Liberal president Michael Kroger ordered a forensic audit of the accounts when he took over after last year’s disastrous state election.

NICK ECONOMOU, POLITICAL ANALYST: The state Liberal Party is in a bit of trouble and it’s been subject to a great deal of internal tension. There’d been problems within the parliamentary wing of the party. That contributed of course to the Liberals’ defeat at the last state election. And we also know that there were all sorts of tensions in the party organisation, the party membership.

DENIS NAPTHINE: I’m absolutely devastated, but particularly for the candidates across the state of Victoria who worked extremely hard, for the Liberal Party members and volunteers who worked extremely hard. This is a real shock to all of us.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That includes Angelo Kakouros, chair of the party’s South Barwon branch. He’s been fielding calls from party members all day.

ANGELO KAKOUROS, CHAIR, LIBERAL PARTY SOUTH BARWON BRANCH: It is a lack of trust and great, great disappointment.

MADELEINE MORRIS: But Mr Kakouros says his branch has been worried about the former state director for some time.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: I’ve had concerns with Damien Mantach for the last three to four years as a state director and personal experience and just the way things have operated and the communication between Damien, the administrative committee and some of the people within the organisation with their communication here locally in our area.

NICK ECONOMOU: It’s a very, very big task to try and keep track of what’s going on and to keep paid full-time officials answerable and accountable in what is essentially a voluntary organisation. The state treasurer of the Liberal Party would be a volunteer after all. Now, on top of this we’re getting increasing regulation to try and regulate the flow of donations. … But I suspect that that may be encouraging clever people to be a bit tricky here and try and find ways to squirrel resources away.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, Michael Kroger admitted there was a systemic problem with the Liberal Party accounting and changes were being made.

MICHAEL KROGER: More people in the accounting section and different oversights in relation to levels of authorised expenditure and a greater role for the party finance committee and more attention on these matters by the party executive.

MADELEINE MORRIS: It’s not the first time Damien Mantach has been in the headlines. Two years ago, he was investigated and ultimately cleared over payments he authorised to a former Liberal staffer who quit after being implicated in a scandal that snared the Police Minister.

And late today, the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay nearly $48,000 in personal expenses when he was Tasmanian branch state director.

The fallout today extended all the way from Spring Street to Canberra.

BRENDAN O’CONNOR, FEDERAL LABOR MP: In 2013 the Prime Minister said, and I quote, “I know Damien Mantach well. He’s a person of integrity. So let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence.” Does the Prime Minister agree that this ringing endorsement is yet another failure of judgment on his part?

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER: But I can inform the House that matters concerning the individual in question have this morning been referred to the Victorian Police.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, no answer at the Mantach family home and Damien Mantach couldn’t be reached on the phone.

There is palpable shock here in Victoria that this could’ve happened to the party which prides itself on good financial management, particularly amongst Liberal rank and file. One branch chair told me it was like finding out the priest had been stealing from the collection plate. But there’s also relief it’s been uncovered by the party’s new state leadership.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: Michael Kroger, the state president, he’s doing a fantastic job in order to bring honesty and transparency back into the party.

MADELEINE MORRIS: The impact for the party may yet be felt in the place it will hurt most: the coffers.

NICK ECONOMOU: The Liberal Party really does rely heavily on membership fees and donations, so I think something that might damage the reputation of the party’s fundraising ability could be really seriously damaging to the Liberal Party.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER III: I think this is simply a matter of we’ve been robbed. We want our money back and we want justice done. Police will investigate and i think that’s all I should say at this point in time.

SABRA LANE: Madeleine Morris reporting.


Rachael Brown reported this story on Thursday, August 20, 2015 12:20:47

 abc.net.au

 Fmr Vic Liberal state director accused of stealing $1.5m from party over four years
 TRANSCIPT

ELEANOR HALL: Let’s go now to Victoria where that state’s branch of the Liberal Party is having some trouble of its own.

The Liberal leader Matthew Guy has accused the former state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Damien Mantach, of embezzling $1.5 million in the election campaign funds.

Mr Guy says his party is “white hot” with anger, and that the funds could’ve made a difference in last year’s election.

In Melbourne, Rachael Brown reports.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal Party says discrepancies were uncovered during a forensic audit of the party’s funds after last year’s state election loss.

The party’s former state director Damien Mantach is being accused of stealing $1.5 million over four years, but the audit continues.

Mr Mantach has not responded to the ABC’s calls.

Liberal party members were called into a crisis meeting this morning, and heading in, the party leader Matthew Guy made no attempt to mask his feelings.

MATTHEW GUY: We are furious; we want our money back.

RACHAEL BROWN: The matter has been referred to the Victoria Police Fraud and Extortion Squad, which says it’s investigating the disappearance of funds, but can’t comment further.

Mr Guy says, if the allegations prove true, it’s a massive betrayal of trust.

MATTHEW GUY: An enormous part of our election war chest, enormous. People did a lot of work to get that. I mean, we have a fundraising team who’ve done a huge amount of work; they’re always under a lot of scrutiny as you can imagine, and a lot of pressure.

But they’ve done a huge amount of work. We’ve got a lot of supporters, a lot of branch people who have worked their guts out for this party. And for what it appears to be one individual to do this to us leaves us bitterly cold.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal party leader says the funds could’ve changed last year’s election result, which saw Labor’s Daniel Andrews dismissing the Napthine Coalition government.

Denis Napthine, who led the Victoria’s first one-term government in 60 years, says the fraud allegation is shocking and bitterly disappointing.

The party’s new president, Michael Kroger, has released a statement saying, when the audit turned up suspicious transactions amounting to $1.5 million between 2010 and 2014, Damien Mantach was asked to explain himself.

It was after this discussion that the party’s administrative committee voted to refer the matter to police.

Mr Kroger admits there’s a weakness with the Liberal Party’s checks and balances.

MICHAEL KROGER: Yeah, well on this occasion they clearly failed. So yep, quite up front about that. I’ve only been in the job four months, as you know. This has been going on for four years, so you know, it should have been picked up before and wasn’t, unfortunately.

RACHAEL BROWN: But he says there won’t be a clean out of branch holders, that the alleged fraud didn’t extend to other employees, officials or office bearers, and was limited to the party’s Melbourne headquarters.

He says civil action hasn’t been decided on.

MICHAEL KROGER: We’re sensitive to a number of issues, including the fact the person involved has a wife and family, and there are other matters which we want to take into account. But yes, we’ll be recovering a good deal of the funds in a cooperative relationship with the person involved.

RACHAEL BROWN: Mr Kroger says he doesn’t know where the money’s gone.

And he’s hit back at a suggestion that this is in a similar vein to the trade union boss Kathy Jackson being forced to repay $1.4 million of misappropriated members’ funds.

MICHAEL KROGER: When the Liberal party becomes aware of a serious matter like this, what do we do?

We investigate it quickly, we report it to the appropriate authorities, who in this case will be the Victoria Police. We don’t hide it; we don’t ignore it; we deal with it.

On the other hand, it’s taken a royal commission at massive public expense bringing these union and Labor leaders kicking and screaming before the public to get any type of information from them at all, at massive public expense. And even now they want to sack the umpire.

RACHAEL BROWN: One commentator has told The World Today that there might be more to this than meets the eye.

Damian Mantach stepped down from the director’s job in March. A couple of years ago he was one of the senior Liberals secretly recorded during the police command crisis that led to Ted Baillieu resigning as premier.

The commentator says this audit and slur on a former power player in the executive committee might have more to do with the ongoing power struggle and factional rifts at the upper levels of the Victorian Liberal party.

ELEANOR HALL: Rachael Brown with that report.



news.com.au

Finger pointing begins over Liberals’ stolen cash

http://www.news.com.au/video/id-NwMjY0dzqkwzxK6FCG9JiP2ATp0m5WyG/Police-to-investigate-alleged-Vic-Lib-fraud

Vic detectives will investigate the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of Liberal party funds.

Victorian detectives will investigate the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of Liberal

Victorian detectives will investigate the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of Liberal party funds by former state director Damien Mantach. Source: AAP

VICTORIA’S Liberal Party didn’t lose the 2014 election because its then state director stole $1.5 million from campaign funds, current state president Michael Kroger says.

Former Victorian Liberal director Damien Mantach has admitted to stealing money from the party over a four-year period going into the state election.

On a bad day for Mr Mantach, his Liberal Party email address was also found in the leaked Ashley Madison database, although there is no evidence he specifically signed up to the site.

Mr Mantach, who was on a $200,000-a-year salary, allegedly used the money to pay his mortgage, fund his lifestyle and build a half-a-million dollar share portfolio, the Herald Sun reports.

When asked about the alleged theft, his wife Jodie Mantach told the paper she no longer wants “anything to do with him”.

Mr Kroger said the party did not lose the election because of a lack of funds.

“The ability of the party to continue to operate and fund its campaigns has not been compromised,” a party statement said.

Mr Kroger said the party was strengthening its financial controls after the details of the theft became clear.

The $1.5 million theft has been referred to Victoria Police and Mr Kroger is hopeful some of it can be recovered.

The Ocean Grove home owned by former Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach.

The Ocean Grove home owned by former Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach. Source: News Corp Australia

The Liberals’ Tasmanian division president Geoff Page later confirmed Mr Mantach’s history of questionable spending dating back to 2008.

Mr Mantach repaid almost $50,000 in “personal expenses” before leaving his position with the Tasmanian branch to move to Victoria. “Mr Mantach had in 2008 a liability for personal expenses to the Tasmanian division totalling $47,981.78, which was fully repaid by Mr Mantach to the division upon his departure in March of that year,” Mr Page said in a post on the Tasmanian Liberals’ Facebook page.

Finger pointing has begun within the party, with the Liberals’ federal director — and husband of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin — Brian Loughnane reportedly being blamed for his appointment.

A RORTER’S DREAM JOB

As state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Mr Mantach’s role was a rorter’s dream.

He had the final say on budget line items, such as polling research, that the party treasurer was not allowed to see. It allowed him to bill the party with invoices — some created on his work computer — for jobs that did not exist.

Mr Mantach resigned after the 2014 state election loss but had to face the music on Monday when the party’s lawyers called him to a meeting.

His lawyer arrived on Tuesday in an attempt to cut a deal when the party thought he had stolen around $800,000.

The Liberals wanted complete disclosure and Mr Mantach allegedly spent hours with officials on Wednesday explaining the full extent of his theft.

“We feel profoundly betrayed and terribly disappointed with what’s happened,” Mr Kroger told reporters on Thursday.

“It appears it was only Damien involved. If the police find others, fine, but we’re not aware that anyone at the party head office or any officials had any involvement at all.” Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy said members were “gutted” after raising funds for the state and federal election campaigns. “The party is furious, we want our money back, we want this matter sent to the police, and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that justice is done,” he said.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission was called on to examine secret phone recordings of senior Liberal figures in 2013, including Mr Mantach, though it was found an investigation was not warranted.

“I know Damien Mantach well. He is a person of integrity. So let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence,” Tony Abbott said at the time when he was opposition leader.

Asked about the $1.5 million theft on Thursday, Prime Minister Abbott said it was a matter for the Victorian division of the party.

Mr Mantach did not respond to attempts to contact him on yesterday.

Victoria Police have launched an investigation.

The Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff Peta Credlin and husband Brian Loughnane. The Liberal

The Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff Peta Credlin and husband Brian Loughnane. The Liberal Party’s federal director is being blamed for appointing Mr Mentach. Source: News Corp Australia


The hunt for the killer of tragic ‘suitcase girl’ found at Wynarka SA

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We have all seen this tragic story on TV, in the papers, online and radio. I cannot fathom that there is nobody out there that knows something about the little girl who has died and been dumped in the most awful of ways and said NOTHING. Posting here hopefully will help. Our friends at webslueths are doing everything they can to bust open this mystery, congrats!

Sally, Gaf and Miss X: The clothing tags police identify as the latest chilling clues in the hunt for the killer of tragic ‘suitcase girl’… but her identity is STILL a mystery

  • Police have released images of five clothing tags found in a suitcase
  • The skeleton of the girl was found dumped with the suitcase of clothing on a highway near a remote outback South Australian town 
  • The tags of the five unidentified items of clothing indicate they are from brands Gaf, H.F., Miss X Australia, Sally and Haolailh 
  • Investigators are tracking down brands in the hope of identifying child 
  • Earlier mothers on a blog identified the black tutu found with the bones  

Police have released images of more clothing tags in the hope of finding the murderer of a young girl whose body was found in a suitcase beside a highway last month.

South Australian detectives have revealed that of around 50 items of clothing found with the child’s remains, they are yet to identify the brands of five items.

The bones, which police say belong to a girl aged between two and four years old who died up to eight years ago, were found dumped on the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of Wynarka in South Australia.

The tags of the five unidentified items of clothing indicate they are from brands Gaf, H.F., Miss X Australia, Sally and Haolailh.

Police have released more images of clothing found in a suitcase with the remains of a young girl last month

Police have released more images of clothing found in a suitcase with the remains of a young girl last month

They hope by revealing the tags on the clothes it will bring them closer to whoever was responsible for the child's death

The Haolailh tag is from the distinctive Dora The Explorer top, one of the more recognisable items along with the navy blue Cotton On tutu, according to News Corp.

‘We hope either a retailer or member of the public may be able to identify where the items have been or still are sold,’ Major Crime officer-in-charge Detective Superintendent Des Bray said.

‘The Dora the Explorer top is pretty individual and someone may remember this and remember seeing a little girl they once knew wearing it.’

Locating the buyer of a dark blue tutu found in the suitcase is one of the other strong lines of inquiry being taken by police.

This tag came from a distinctive Dora The Explorer top found in the suitcase

'We hope either a retailer or member of the public may be able to identify where the items have been or still are sold,' Major Crime officer-in-charge Detective Superintendent Des Bray said

‘We hope either a retailer or member of the public may be able to identify where the items have been or still are sold,’ Major Crime officer-in-charge Detective Superintendent Des Bray said

This Miss X Australia label is also one of the brands investigators are still trying to locate

This Miss X Australia label is also one of the brands investigators are still trying to locate

Late last month a group of mothers on the ‘websleuths’ online forum uncovered new clues in the case of the murdered ‘suitcase girl’ whose remains were dumped with a bag of children’s clothing by the side of the road in a remote outback railway siding town.

In a discussion on a websleuths.com forum, the women have identified the distinctive black tutu adorned with large sequins as a Cotton On brand dress for young girls which was discontinued several years ago.

The keen-eyed blog posters also identified the item originally described as a child’s ruler as a Lanza brand luggage tag, probably from the faded bag in which the remains lay amid numerous items of clothing, and a patchwork quilt found in a degraded state as an ‘I-spy’ quilt.

When one woman blogger named Pheme on the websleuths.com online forum spotted this distinctive little girls' black tutu dress, she knew it was the same model as the one she had bought her daughter from Cotton On and that it had been made a few years ago 

When one woman blogger named Pheme on the websleuths.com online forum spotted this distinctive little girls’ black tutu dress, she knew it was the same model as the one she had bought her daughter from Cotton On and that it had been made a few years ago 

Pheme's discovery sparked Snoop Dog on the websleuth forum to track down this ebay image of the black tutu dress with its distinctive cross-stitched large sequins, which differ in colour to a few of the sequins on the found dress, perhaps because of the garment's degradation lying for weeks in the open on an outback road

Keen amateur sleuths like Snoop Dog (who posted this on websleuth) are busily trying to solve the mystery of where the clothing found with the murdered girl's body might come from, thus leading detectives closer to the identification of the skeletal remains of the 2 to 4-year-old dumped by an outback highway in July

Keen amateur sleuths like Snoop Dog (who posted this on websleuth) are busily trying to solve the mystery of where the clothing found with the murdered girl’s body might come from, thus leading detectives closer to the identification of the skeletal remains of the 2 to 4-year-old dumped by an outback highway in July

Thought at first to be a child's ruler, the metallic object above was soon identified on websleuth.com as actually coming from a suitcase, which police then identified as a Lanza brand piece of luggage

Spotted: websleuth poster astorytold (above) promptly identified the 'child's ruler' as a luggage label for the Lanza brand, which was sold by the shop Strandbags but seems to be no longer widely available

Spotted: websleuth poster astorytold (above) promptly identified the ‘child’s ruler’ as a luggage label for the Lanza brand, which was sold by the shop Strandbags but seems to be no longer widely available

The Lanza logo with its distinctive diagonal motif belongs to a brand of luggage which appears to be no longer  widely available which fits in with the South Australian police estimated date of the murder of the little girl dumped with the suitcase, possibly as far back as 2007

This websleuth blogger also recognised the black tutu, saying her daughter wore a similar garment until she was about four years old, placing the item in the age framework put forward by police who believe the murdered girl was a preschooler of Caucasian appearance with fair hair and about 90cm tall

This websleuth blogger also recognised the black tutu, saying her daughter wore a similar garment until she was about four years old, placing the item in the age framework put forward by police who believe the murdered girl was a preschooler of Caucasian appearance with fair hair and about 90cm tall

This weather-beaten suitcase (above) was dumped by the Karoonda highway and lay there for weeks until a passer by stopped and and inspected it, along with children's clothes among which was the skeleton of an unidentified murdered girl

 This weather-beaten suitcase (above) was dumped by the Karoonda highway and lay there for weeks until a passer by stopped and and inspected it, along with children’s clothes among which was the skeleton of an unidentified murdered girl

An original Lanza brand suitcase (pictured) which SA police presented at a press conference about the continuing investigation into the murdered 'suitcase girl' dumped 120km south-east of Adelaide

An original Lanza brand suitcase (pictured) which SA police presented at a press conference about the continuing investigation into the murdered ‘suitcase girl’ dumped 120km south-east of Adelaide

Online speculation has been rife since South Australian police revealed the discovery of the bag with the skeleton of a young girl who police say died ‘a violent and terrible death’.

The bones were found dumped on the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of Wynarka in South Australia.

A tiny railway siding township 120km south-east of Adelaide, Wynarka lies on the truck route between the South Australian grain belt and Port Adelaide.

Residents living in the handful of houses at Wynarka noticed a ‘mystery man’ carrying a suitcase on the Karoonda Highway on April 13 and May 26. The man was about 60 years old, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.

Detectives are trying to identify the body of young child

When SA Police released this image of this badly degraded but colourful quilt found with the child's body, quilters quickly went to work identifying seven of the fabrics used in the hexagonal patches, including the 'musical note' material in the border which was sold at Spotlight fabric outlet some years ago

Exact matches: The musical note and pumpkin patterned fabrics were identically matched by police with help from the public, and quilting experts have spread the word through mothers’ quilting groups and online forums which have lit up with discussions by people keen to solve the mystery of the dead girl’s origins

Quilters took to the SA Police Facebook page to write about the 'musical note' fabric and to say they had passed on the mystery information to their mother's quilting group in the hope of helping to crack the case

Quilters took to the SA Police Facebook page to write about the ‘musical note’ fabric and to say they had passed on the mystery information to their mother’s quilting group in the hope of helping to crack the case

Can you fill in the gaps?: Seven hexagonal squares out of 25 plus the border in the degraded quilt (left) have had their fabric positively identified (right), with the star material being a Spotlight fabric possibly made in the US, and readers eagerly trying to match up the faded remnants with textile patterns they know

Can you fill in the gaps?: Seven hexagonal squares out of 25 plus the border in the degraded quilt (left) have had their fabric positively identified (right), with the star material being a Spotlight fabric possibly made in the US, and readers eagerly trying to match up the faded remnants with textile patterns they know

Another clue: Mellisa Preusker, writing on the police Facebook page, is still trying to identify the more faded patchwork pieces in the degraded quilt found with the murdered girl's body, believing one to depict a unicorn

Another clue: Mellisa Preusker, writing on the police Facebook page, is still trying to identify the more faded patchwork pieces in the degraded quilt found with the murdered girl’s body, believing one to depict a unicorn

Daniella Erin thought the same patch believed to be 'a unicorn' was possibly a cartoon face of a lady, perhaps a Lorelei, but while she recognises it she cannot 'for the life of me' pin down where she knows it from

Daniella Erin thought the same patch believed to be ‘a unicorn’ was possibly a cartoon face of a lady, perhaps a Lorelei, but while she recognises it she cannot ‘for the life of me’ pin down where she knows it from

On July 15, a motorist who claimed they were ‘drawn to something on the side of the road’, found a faded suitcase lying open with clothing and other items scattered nearby close to the road and near a set of low bushes dotting the landscape.

When police investigated, they noticed a jawbone poking through piles of children’s clothing.

Stuffed into a 40cm wide weather-beaten case, in between a Dora the Explorer t-shirt and pink tracksuit pants, a pink toweling slipper, black tutu dress and satin Size 2 boxer shorts with kittens and teddy bears on them, were the skeletal remains of a child.

Forensic officers who examined the bones say the girl was between two-and-a-half and four years old, Caucasian with fair hair and could have died up to eight years ago.

The skeleton of the murdered girl was found in a suitcase dumped on the Karoonda Highway near Wynarka (above), a tiny railway siding township 120km south-east of Adelaide, lying on the truck route between the South Australian grain belt and Port Adelaide

Residents living in the handful of houses at Wynarka noticed a 'mystery man' carrying a suitcase on the Karoonda Highway on April 13 and May 26. The man was about 60 years old, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed 

The folorn sight of this little girl's pink slipper found with the murdered child's remains has so far sparked no recognition from the public

Daily Mail Australia could find only one partial match for the found slipper, a French 'chausson' (above) for 0-18 month old girls strikingly similar in design but with a 'Hello Kitty' motif instead, suggesting the butterfly slipper may be a copy

The folorn sight of a little girl’s pink slipper (left)  found with the slain child’s remains has sparked no matches to date, with Daily Mail Australia finding only the French slipper (right) for 0-18 month old girls strikingly similar in design but with a ‘Hello Kitty’ motif inbstead, suggesting the butterfly slipper may be a copy

The gap between the estimated time of the girl’s terrible death and the dumping of her remains fits in with what the websleuth bloggers have deduced about the origins of the clothing.

Police released photographs of the black tutu dress, the pink slipper embroidered with a butterfly motif, a smiley-faced T-shirt, what they originally thought was ‘a child’s ruler’, two pairs of boxer shorts made from the teddy bear and kitten patterned fabric, and the faded suitcase.

The photographs sparked excited chatter among the websleuth bloggers who quickly identified the ‘child’s ruler’ as the plastic tag from a Lanza brand bag, with its distinctive diagonal logo.

They moved on to the issue of  the black tutu dress, which also had a distinctive feature of large coloured sequins cross-sewn onto the tulle skirt of the garment.

The amateur sleuthing of the blogger mum and others who have posted on a police Facebook page place the clothing or fabric as dating back to at least seven years ago, tying in with the date SA police estimate the child was murdered.

Websleuth blogger Pheme quickly identified the tutu dress as ‘from a store called Cotton On. My daughter had the same one when she was about 2. Not sure how long they stocked it for though or even if they still do’.


The murdered girl in the suitcase

Found: On July 15 on the outback Karoonda Highway near Wynarka, 120km south-east of Adelaide

Sighting: 60-year-old clean cut, well-dressed Caucasian man seen April-May carrying a suitcase on the highway

The victim: 

  • • Believed to be a girl who died ‘a violent and terrible death’
  • • Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death 
  • • Likely Caucasian
  • • Had fair hair, 18cm long
  • • Was 90-95cm tall
  • • Was killed at another location
  • • Was killed some time since the start of 2007

Items found with the skeletal remains of the victim:

Black sequinned tutu dress, pink slipper with butterfly motif, Dora the Explorer outfit, boxer shorts, patchwork quilt and a Lanza brand suitcase

Snoop Dog responded, finding a photograph on ebay of an almost identical black tutu made by the Australian clothing giant Cotton On.

The only difference was the large cross-sewn sequins were of a single pale pink colour, whereas on the tutu found with the slain child, some of the sequins appeared blue or green, but this could have been as a result of the weathering which has also seen the deteriorated black bodice of the outfit lose much of its colour.

Daily Mail Australia has also identified a pink slipper, strikingly similar in design of the found item, but with a ‘Hello Kitty’ motif instead of the embroidered butterfly design.

Police then released a photograph of a badly degraded, colourful quilt, and quilters lit up the South Australian Police Facebook page with a discussion about the origin of the fabric squares in the quilt design.

Following this, the SA Police released a further image of the 90cm square quilt along with seven octagonal patches identified by their fabric, featuring musical notes, stars, teddies, a camel, pumpkins, flowers, insects and animals.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge the SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch, said the identified quilt patches included the pumpkin design and the musical notes border, which were an exact match, and the other fabric patches were a close likeness.

Supt Bray said the images of the items found with the girls’ remains had sparked a massive public response.

On the SA Police Facebook page, quilter Emma Stenhouse wrote that the kind of quilt in the photo released by SA Police was often called an ‘I-spy’ quilt as they could be used with children playing the I-spy game.

Emilee Egeberg went to Google images and wrote on the Facebook page that she had found a product called an ‘I spy kids quilt’ from 2008, which had the exact musical note fabric in some of its patches.

Could this 'I-spy' quilt be made by the same quilt maker who produced the degraded item found with the body of the murdered girl dumped by the South Australian highway in July?

Could this ‘I-spy’ quilt be made by the same quilt maker who produced the degraded item found with the body of the murdered girl dumped by the South Australian highway in July?

After Facebook poster Emma Stenhouse identified the quilt as possibly from a series of patchwork quilts called 'I-spy' used in the game of the same name played with children, Emilee Egeberg wrote (above) that she went on to Google images to find a quilt with the exact musical note and star fabric of the found item

After Facebook poster Emma Stenhouse identified the quilt as possibly from a series of patchwork quilts called ‘I-spy’ used in the game of the same name played with children, Emilee Egeberg wrote (above) that she went on to Google images to find a quilt with the exact musical note and star fabric of the found item

Heather Symons wrote that the musical note fabric had been around 20 years ago, sold by the Spotlight fabric outlet, and that the star fabric was from the same series.

Emma Rains shared the information with ‘my Mum’s patchwork group’, saying ‘someone must know something’.

Speculation that the fabric from the United States, meaning the quilt was possibly American-made, was quashed by the SA police, who said the fabric was probably imported from the US and sold here.

Other posters on the police Facebook page, who are taking a closer look at the patchwork designs, may come up with further clues.

Mellissa Preusker thought she could identify the ‘2nd hexagon from the right, top row. Looks like a ‘Unicorn’ fabric with a white unicorn head (facing to the left) and pink background. Seems familiar, but not sure where i have seen it.’

Daniella Erin wrote on the page that she recognised the ‘cartoon face of a lady … but for the life of me I can;t figure out from where. Maybe a Loralie design?!? I’m hoping somebody else does. It’s been driving me nuts.’

SA Police are continuing their investigation and say they have excluded 32 missing children as the potential victim.

Anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/


police.sa.gov.au

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The following are media releases, photographs and press conferences relating to the discovery of a child’s skeletal remains near the Karoonda Highway about 2kms west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region. The remains were located by a member of the public on 14 July 2015, with police advised early 15 July. Anyone with information about the matter is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

These items are in chronological order – with the oldest items at the bottom of the page.

A poster relating to the murder can be downloaded here.

5 August 2015

Task Force Mallee investigators fan out from Wynarka

Task Force Mallee investigators continued their widespread canvass of the Wynarka area today in relation to the ongoing investigation into the murder of an unidentified little girl.

Officers from the Task Force, along with police from the Murray Mallee Local Service Area and State Tactical Response Group, yesterday began canvassing within a 25km radius of where the child’s remains were found in July, seeking information from the community.

The little girl was found, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt, discarded near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region.  Her identity remains a mystery.

As part of the door-knock, police are speaking with residents, businesses operators and employees, schools, doctors and anyone else connected with the local community.

“Today our officers fanned out from the township of Wynarka to visit farming properties within the search zone,” said Detective Inspector Greg Hutchins, Major Crime Investigation Branch.

“There are many unknowns with this case.

“This is a horrific case centred on the murder of a young girl -someone must know something.

“A police forward command post has been established at the Karoonda Football Club and anyone with information is welcome to stop by and talk with police.”

Posters and letters will be distributed throughout the wider community and across the Murray Mallee Local Service Area as part of the operation.

The posters feature the distinctive black tutu dress and quilt found with the remains.  Of note, only 28 of the Cotton On Kids dresses were sold within South Australia about eight years ago.  The quilt was handmade, but machine-stitched.

To date 643 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the case, and 60 children eliminated as potential victims.

Police are also seeking further information about a man seen in the area with a dark suitcase on both 13 April and 26 May.

Seen by locals who did not recognise him, he is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18 cm long

* Was 90-95 cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time between the start of 2007 and 12-18 months ago

4 August 2015

Wide-spread canvass of Wynarka area begins

Task Force Mallee will today begin a large-scale canvass of the Wynarka area as the investigation into the discovery of a little girl’s remains continues.

Officers from the Task Force, along with police from the Murray Mallee Local Service Area and State Tactical Response Group, will begin doorknocking in the area around where the discovery was made in July, seeking information from the community.

The little girl was found, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt, discarded near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region.

“We believe that someone in this area will have vital information for investigators,” Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, said.

“Someone loved this little girl. Someone other than her killer knows who she is and what happened to her.

“We are appealing to that person to come forward and talk to us.”

Dtv-Supt Bray said police would be speaking with residents, businesses operators and employees, schools, doctors and anyone else connected with the local community.

Today he noted that a quilt and a little black dress – which were both found with the girl – may hold the key to identifying her.

“The reality is we haven’t had anybody come forward that has had that exact quilt so we do think that quilt is still very distinctive and could hold the key to solving this,” he said.

He also noted there were only 28 dresses sold by Cotton on Kids throughout South Australia about eight years ago and it was not sold over the internet or in markets “so again that dress may hold the key”.

Black tutu style dress

“It’s a very challenging investigation and I don’t think that anyone would have thought that weeks later we would still be trying to identify the little girl.

“But every day we’ve been able to find out a little bit more than the day before and if every day continues like that then I’m happy.

Posters and letters will be distributed throughout the wider community as part of the operation.

“At this time we will be canvassing a 25km radius around where she was found, but we may extend that as the inquiry continues,” he said.

“Police will be establishing a forward command post at the Karoonda Football Club today (4 August), and anyone with information is welcome to stop by and talk with police.”

Data provided by the community will be cross referenced as Task Force Mallee investigators continue to follow leads in the inquiry into the girl’s identity and death.

 

At this time 610 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the case, and 55 children eliminated as potential victims.

Police will also be seeking further information about a man seen in the area with a dark suitcase on both 13 April and 26 May.

Seen by locals who did not recognise him, he is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.

“Despite many inquiries about the man with the suitcase we have been unable to identify him,” Det-Supt Bray said.

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18cm long

* Was 90-95cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time since the start of 2007 and 12-18 months ago

Poster

31 July

Task Force Mallee expanded

An additional five police officers have been assigned to Task Force Mallee as SA Police continue to investigate the death of a little girl whose skeletal remains were found alongside the Karoonda Highway earlier this month.
The officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Des Bray said lines of inquiry are also being issued to detectives across the state on a daily basis.
He added that while forensic work is continuing, it has been confirmed that the remains are those of a girl.
She was found by police, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt (pictured top right), near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 15 July.
Taskforce Mallee was established in the wake of the discovery with 15 police officers initially assigned to the investigation, along with a significant forensic response.
To date 550 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the case, and 53 children have been eliminated by investigators as potential victims.
“The massive public response has generated many lines of inquiry in addition to opportunities being identified by investigators,” Dtv-Supt Bray said.
“All of this information is assessed, prioritised and issued for investigation on a daily basis.
“The investigation is continuing at full speed while we await the results of forensic analysis.”
He noted that despite receiving a very large number of calls in respect to the homemade, machine-sewn quilt, the information supplied has not resulted in Task Force Mallee identifying a potential victim at this stage.
Police are also still seeking to identify a man seen in the area with a dark suitcase on both 13 April and 26 May.
Seen by locals who did not recognise him, he is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.
“Despite many inquiries about the man with the suitcase we have been unable to identify him,” Det-Supt Bray said.
Anyone with information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/
What police know about the girl:
* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death
* Likely Caucasian
* Had fair hair, 18cm long
* Was 90-95cm tall
* Was killed at another location
* Was killed some time since the start of 2007

29 July 2015

Task Force Mallee rules out Madeleine McCann

Missing UK girl Madeleine McCann has been ruled out as the victim in the South Australia Police inquiry into a child’s remains found at Wynarka earlier this month.

The officer in charge of the SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Des Bray today said that 43 children had now been eliminated as potential victims.

“I can confirm that Madeleine McCann has been totally excluded as a potential victim and UK Police have been advised,” he said. “Task Force Mallee has no further comment to make about this line of inquiry.”

To date there have been 511 reports made to Crime Stoppers since the child’s remains were found –  along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt – near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 15 July.

What police know about the child:

*             Believed to be a girl

*             Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

*             Likely Caucasian

*             Had fair hair, 18cm long

*             Was 90-95cm tall

*             Was killed at another location

*             Was killed some time since the start of 2007

Anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au

27 July 2015

‘Massive’ public response regarding Wynarka child

More than 400 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the discovery of a little girl’s remains near the Karoonda Highway on 15 July.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge the SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch, said there had been a massive response from the public in relation to the murder inquiry – with a total of 410 reports made to Crime Stoppers, including 194 since Friday.

The child’s remains were located along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt near the highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region.

Images of the distinctive 90cm x 90cm homemade quilt were released on Sunday following forensic examination, and today Task Force Mallee investigators released a further digital image with seven of the quilt’s 25 octagonal patches now identified.

The image of the pumpkins and the 125mm-wide border fabric featuring music notes are exactly the same as those on the original quilt and the other images are a very close likeness, Det-Supt Bray said.

“We are extremely grateful for the level of community support we have received, and as a result of that support the investigation continues to progress each day,” he said.

At this time 32 children have been excluded as potential victims.

“It is highly unlikely that the victim in Madeleine McCann,” he added.

“At this time our inquiries will focus on where the evidence leads us in this investigation and at this point that primary focus remains within Australia.”

What police know about the child:

*             Believed to be a girl

*             Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

*             Likely Caucasian

*             Had fair hair, 18cm long

*             Was 90-95cm tall

*             Was killed at another location

*             Was killed some time since the start of 2007

Anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Digital image of quilt

26 July 2015

Quilt may hold key to Wynarka child’s identity

Photographs of a degraded quilt located, along with the remains of a child, at Wynarka earlier this month, have been released by Task Force Mallee investigators today.

Following close forensic examination, details of the 90cm x 90cm quilt have been released to the public in a bid to identify the child, who police believe was a young girl aged two-and-a-half to four at the time of her death.

Her skeletal remains were found along with a suitcase, items of clothing and the quilt near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 15 July.

The officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Des Bray, said on Friday that police believe the child could have died up to eight years ago and that she was killed at another location.

At some stage she was placed in the suitcase before it was left at the Wynarka location – sometime since mid-March.

Investigators believe the suitcase and its contents – including the child – were left at the location by an unknown person behind a bush and that at some stage someone tipped most of the contents out behind a nearby bush and left the suitcase near the roadside.

Among those items was the quilt, which appears to be homemade although it’s been machine-stitched.

That fact, along with its filling of a light-coloured polyester material, could indicate that its maker intended it to be washed regularly, police believe.

Dtv Supt Bray also noted that much of the quilt is badly degraded, but the fabric which is still intact reveals a wide border of black material illustrated with musical notes along with images of a pumpkin patch, a camel and dragonflies.

“It has been suggested this is a so-called i-Spy quilt which is especially constructed to allow a parent to play i-Spy with the child using the images stitched into the blanket,” he said.

“Someone loved that little girl and either made her, or gave her, that quilt. I would appeal for whoever loved her to get in touch with us.”

He added that investigators with Task Force Mallee continue to follow lines of inquiry, with 273 calls made to Crime Stoppers to date.

As a result, police have eliminated 25 children from the investigation who have been nominated as potential victims, but have been determined to be alive.

Police are still appealing to a man seen in the area about six to eight weeks ago with a dark suitcase to come forward. They have confirmed sightings of him with a suitcase near Karoonda on both 13 April and 26 May.

Described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed, he was seen by a number of locals in the area and investigators are seeking to identify him and potentially exclude him from the inquiry.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the child:

*             Believed to be a girl

*             Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

*             Likely Caucasian

*             Had fair hair, 18cm long

*             Was 90-95cm tall

*             Was killed at another location

*             Was killed some time since the start of 2007

Quilt found with bones near Wynarka

23 July 2015

Wynarka child believed to be a girl

SA Police have today announced they believe the skeletal human remains found near Wynarka last week are those of a girl aged two-and-a-half to four years.

At a press conference today, the officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch Detective Superintendent Des Bray, also announced that investigators believe the little girl could have died up to eight years ago – potentially making her aged 10-12 years if she was alive today.

“While the forensic analysis has not yet provided a conclusive result regarding this child’s gender we are reasonably confident at this time that these are the remains of a girl who had fair hair and was 90-95cm tall,” he said.

A manikin with hair of a similar colour and length, dressed in new versions of items of clothing found with the body was displayed to the media today as Task Force Mallee investigators continue their inquiries into the child’s murder.

Police have received 223 call to Crime Stoppers  (ph 1800 333 000) in relation to the discovery of the remains, near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

Clothing and a suitcase – a new version of which was also displayed by police today – were found along with the remains.

Investigators believe the suitcase and its contents – including the child – were left at the location by an unknown person behind a bush and that at some stage someone tipped most of the contents out behind a nearby bush and left the suitcase near the roadside.

While the suitcase now appears a grey colour, it was originally black and has faded.

Dtv-Supt Bray said the suitcase was first seen after road works were concluded in mid-March, but police are keen to hear from anyone who saw it, touched it or emptied its contents.

“We believe the child died elsewhere and was placed into the suitcase before being left at the Wynarka location,” he said.

“For reasons I’m not going to disclose we are confident that this child was murdered and we would appeal for anyone with information that might assist us to make contact.

“This is a tragic case and we continue to follow a number of lines of inquiry in a bid to identify this child.

“At this time 24 children have been nominated as potential victims, but have been ruled out by investigators who have determined that they are alive and not requiring any further police attention.”

Police are still appealing to a man seen in the area about six to eight weeks ago with a dark suitcase to come forward.

Described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed, he was seen by a number of locals in the area and investigators are seeking to identify him and potentially exclude him from the inquiry.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Mannequin and case

23 July 2015

Crime Stoppers receive 200 calls regarding Wynarka case

Forensic analysis of human remains found near Wynarka last week have not yet determined the child’s gender, however Task Force Mallee investigators have ruled out 20 children as victims.

SA Police have now had 200 calls to Crime Stoppers (ph: 1800 333 000) in relation to the discovery of the remains of a child, about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

Major Crime detectives have released images of clothing found along with the child’s remains near the Karoonda Highway.

The clothing, including a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts and a pair of pink track pants, were mostly found on the ground near a grey Lanza suitcase.

The suitcase and its contents – including the child – were left at the location by an unknown person behind a bush.

Police believe that at some stage someone tipped most of the contents out behind a nearby bush and left the suitcase near the roadside.

People driving along the road saw the suitcase over time, originally closed and later with the lid open. Some stopped and inspected it.

The suitcase was first discovered shortly after road works were completed in March this year.

“Identifying who emptied the suitcase contents behind the bush and when it was emptied is very important to investigators,” said Detective Superintendent Des Bray, Officer in Charge, Major Crime Investigation Branch.

“The person who did this is not in any trouble and we encourage that person to come forward and contact us through Crime Stoppers or attend their local police station.”

Det Supt Bray also noted that further sightings of a 60-year-old man with the suitcase around the same time have been reported to police.

Earlier police appeals have noted that a man was seen in the area carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.

Described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed, he was not a local.

“Identifying this man remains a priority so that he can be excluded if not involved,” Det Supt Bray said.

“Police continue to encourage this man or anyone who knows him to come forward and make contact with us.

“Forensic Science SA have been working very hard to identify the gender of the child and to obtain a DNA profile.

Despite their best efforts they have not been able to achieve that result yet, however they continue to be committed to the task using alternative methods of analysis.

“In the interim we need to be patient and we are actively investigating other lines of inquiry that are enabling us to progress the investigation.”

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online athttps://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

20 July 2015

Forensic analysis of remains continues

Forensic analysis of human remains found near Wynarka last week has not yet determined the gender of the child, however, police have been able to rule out potential victims.

“Forensic Science staff are working very hard to deliver a result as quickly as possible.  We are hoping to be able to confirm the gender of the child this week.  A DNA profile is also being taken of the child, however, that will take longer, ” said Detective Superintendent Des Bray, Officer in Charge, Major Crime Investigation Branch.

Investigators have been assisted by 125 calls to Crime Stoppers since the bones were discovered.  Acting on information received from the public,  ten potential victims have been identified but detectives have been able to exclude them from the investigation.

Major Crime detectives have released images of clothing found along with the child’s remains near the Karoonda Highway at Wynarka last week.

The clothing, including a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts and a pair of pink track pants, were found in a grey Lanza suitcase about two kilometres west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

“The response we have received from the public is encouraging and we urge anyone that recognises any of the clothes to please contact police.

“We believe the child aged between 2 and 5 years was murdered at another location but the motive and the exact time frame is unknown.

“We are also seeking any information about a man seen by several people walking along the Karoonda Highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.  He is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.  He was not a local.”

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

19 July 2015

Further images released of clothing found at Wynarka

Major Crime detectives trying to identify the body of a young child, have released further images of clothing found along with the child’s remains near the Karoonda Highway at Wynarka last week.

The clothing, including a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts and a pair of pink track-pants, were found in a suitcase about 2kms west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

“From 5pm last night police have received nearly 100 calls from the public to Crime Stoppers, which is encouraging and we urge anyone that recognises any of the clothes to please contact police,” said  Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of Major Crime Investigation Branch.
“Forensic Scientists are also working around the clock to help provide vital information to assist in the investigation.”

“We believe the child aged between 2-5 years was murdered at another location but the motive and the exact time frame is unknown” Det-Supt Bray said.

“We are also seeking any information about a man seen by several people walking along the Karoonda Highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.
He is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.  He was not a local.” Detective Superintendent Bray Said.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Vision taken from the SAPOL Remote piloted aircraft (drone) which flew over the search area on Thursday 16 July, shows the terrain and Karoonda Highway, SES volunteers searching the area, and a large blue tent where the child’s remains were found.

Wynarka child's clothing

Wynarka clothing coat and pink pants

17 July 2015

Images released as police investigate child murder

Major Crime detectives trying to identify the body of young child today released images of clothing and a suitcase found along with the child’s remains near the Karoonda Hwy this week.

The remains, clothing and case were found at Wynarka, about 150km east of Adelaide in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday.

Taskforce Mallee has been established with 15 police officers now working on the investigation, along with a significant forensic response.

A post mortem was conducted this morning – but the gender of the child still remains unknown .

Further forensic testing will be required before a gender is known early next week, while a DNA profile may take longer due to the complexities involved in the forensic analysis.

“Police emphasise that while it’s possible that the victim is female, the presence of female clothes should not be taken as confirmation of that, or that the clothes belonged to the child,” Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of Major Crime Investigation Branch, said today.

“We are hoping that someone recognises the clothes and then can help us identify the child.”

Police are renewing their appeal for information that may lead to the identity of a man seen walking along the Karoonda Highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.

He is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed. He was not a local.

Calls to Crime Stoppers have revealed the man was also seen on the highway walking with a suitcase west of Wynarka heading towards Murray Bridge.

Police are also calling on any drivers who may have dash-cam vision of the highway to contact police as they may have inadvertently recorded information in their trucks and cars that may assist with the investigation.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Suitcase and clothing

Clothing and case tag

17 July 2015

Detective seek information from public after bones found near Wynarka

Major Crime detectives want to speak to a man seen carrying a suitcase on the Karoonda Highway, near where the remains of a child were found earlier this week.

Late on Wednesday morning, police were contacted by a motorist who discovered human bones near a suitcase just off the highway, about 2 km west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region.

Detectives have door-knocked the Wynarka region and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.

Detectives believe the body and suitcase were dumped at the roadside location some time within the last ten weeks.

Police have received information that a man was seen walking along the highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.  He is described as aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.  He was not a local.

Major Crime detectives are awaiting the interim results of a post-mortem to provide more details about the identity, age and gender of the human remains found near Wynarka this week.

Police have established the bones are the skeletal remains of a child.  Initial examinations of the remains have determined they are those of a child aged between 2 and 7 years.  The gender is not known at this stage.

The remains were transported to Adelaide where a post-mortem was undertaken yesterday afternoon.  A more detailed examination of items found with the body will also be conducted.

As part of the investigation, detectives are checking National Missing Persons registers.  There are no current missing persons from South Australia that match this description.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

The investigation is ongoing.

16 July 2015

Wynarka investigation continues

Major Crime detectives have returned to the Karoonda Highway today following yesterday’s discovery of human remains.

Late on Wednesday morning, police were contacted by a motorist who discovered human bones just off the highway, about 2 km west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region.

Police have established the bones are the skeletal remains of a child.  Initial examinations of the remains have determined they are those of a child aged between 2 and 7 years.  The gender is not known at this stage.

The remains have been transported to Adelaide where a post-mortem will be conducted this afternoon.

Forensic examination of the scene is being conducted.  SES volunteers are assisting with a search of the area along the highway today.  The police drone is also being utilised to search from overhead.

Detectives believe the body and suitcase were dumped at the roadside location some time in the last four to six weeks.

As part of the investigation, detectives are checking National Missing Persons registers.  There are no current missing persons from South Australia that match this description.

The investigation is ongoing.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, Officer in Charge of Major Crime Investigation Branch, spoke with SA Police News yesterday to update the public on the situation and appeal for information.  Listen to his interview here.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

15 July 2015

Human bones found near Wynarka

Police including Major Crime Detectives are investigating the discovery of human bones near the Karoonda Highway about 2kms west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region.

Late this morning police were contacted by a member of the public after the bones were found just off the highway.

Police have established the bones are the skeletal remains of a child.

Forensic examination of the scene is currently being conducted.

The investigation is ongoing and further information will be provided as soon as possible.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

 

SA Police rule out 10 potential victims after child’s remains found

Updated 20 Jul 2015, 3:57pm

Police have discounted 10 potential victims in their search for the identity of a child whose remains were found in bushland near Wynarka in South Australia last week.

The skeletal remains of a child aged between two and five were found behind a bush off the Karoonda Highway on Wednesday last week.

Police believe the remains were originally dumped inside a suitcase found at the location, two kilometres west of Wynarka, up to two-and-a-half months ago.

They said they had received 125 calls from the public, with “10 potential victims identified” but subsequently excluded from the investigation.

A forensic analysis of the human remains has not been able to establish its gender yet but police have already announced the child suffered a “violent, horrible death”.

“Forensic Science staff are working very hard to deliver a result as quickly as possible,” Detective Superintendent Des Bray said.

“We are hoping to be able to confirm the gender of the child this week.

“A DNA profile is also being taken of the child, however, that will take longer.”

Police are still searching for man seeing walking along the Karoonda Highway at Wynarka carrying a dark suitcase about six to eight weeks ago.

He was not a local and is described as being aged about 60, Caucasian, clean cut and neatly dressed with a light build.

Major Crime detectives have released images of clothing found along with the remains, including a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts, and a pair of pink tracksuit pants, in the hope a member of public recognised them.

“We believe the child, aged between two and five years, was murdered at another location but the motive and the exact time frame is unknown,” Superintendent Bray said.

Nomads Motorcycle Club raids sparked by threats of blackmail and payback against two SA men


Standover 101, Give me 30 grand (happens to be the price for a nice harley) Give me your bike, and give me your car….fill in the rest.

Great to see the cops scooping these steroid pumped bludgers off the streets one by one. If we allow them to just come and standover folks demanding cash and to take  possessions we will never ever win the war against them.

The Nomads Hardcore tactics

Chief Court Reporter Sean Fewster
The Advertiser
June 01, 2015 5:19PM

THE two-state raids that smashed the powerful Nomads Motorcycle Club were sparked by threats of blackmail, payback and retribution against two SA men, a court has heard.

Prosecutors today asked the Adelaide Magistrates Court to remand two of the men in custody, despite their being granted bail when arrested in NSW last week.

Sandi McDonald, SC, prosecuting, said the allegations against the duo and their 10 co-accused were some of the most serious examples of bikie-related crime.

“In November, these men flew in from NSW, met up with the complainant, took him to the Adelaide High School oval and demanded $30,000, his car and his motorbike,” she said.

“He was taken to a motel where he was threatened, assaulted and told he was going to die.

Police arrest man during a bikie gang crackdown
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/video/id-BjOHRjdTqruBV11eXa-n7ClDythZuhfj/Police-arrest-man-during-a-bikie-gang-crackdown/

“This defendant, a high-ranking member of the gang, threatened to slit his throat (and) cut his eyes out … he held the complainant’s head down and aimed a firearm at him.”

The man, whose identity is suppressed, is one of eight Nomads to face court today in the wake of last week’s raids by SA and NSW police.

Four members faced court last week, and one was supported by the gang’s national president, Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour.

Six more were extradited from Sydney on Friday — they did not apply for bail today and were remanded in custody until August.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today, with a supporter.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today, with a supporter.

The remaining two men travelled to Adelaide today under bail agreements imposed by the Paramatta Magistrates Court following the raids.

Each has yet to plead to a raft of blackmail, assault and threaten harm charges taking place at locations across Adelaide between November 2014 and March this year.

A final co-accused remains at large and is the subject of an arrest warrant.

The identities of the victims, and any information which would tend to identify them, are suppressed by order of the court.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today.

Under SA law, a person charged with bikie-related offending is automatically banned from receiving bail unless they can show there are special circumstances warranting their release.

Today Michael Dadds, for the first of the two bailed men, said his client’s liberty should continue so he could return to Sydney, continue working and continue caring for his two children.

He said his client had severed his ties with the Nomads.

“He had been attempting, for some time, to disassociate himself from the club and, in January, he successfully did that … it was a delicate process,” he said.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

“His lawyer in Sydney subsequently made inquiries with NSW police with a view to establishing how best to go about, in a formal way, ensuring that disassociation was noted.”

Mr Dadds said his client had attended a police station and signed a statutory declaration about his disassociation — “one of, if not the first” NSW bikie to do so.

He said the court should not place great weight on the allegations made by the complainant.

“The allegations are denied and there is a real question, in this case, about the reliability of the complainant,” he said.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

“His allegations are uncorroborated … these allegations of blackmail and intimidation all rely on someone who is unreliable.”

Ms McDonald said that was not the case, as police had sourced CCTV footage from Adelaide Airport, the high school and the motel that matched the complainant’s account.

She said the court should not place great weight on the man’s claims of having disassociated from the Nomads.

“What I have been advised, through police in NSW, is that this defendant was charged with consorting offences and, during his police interview, claimed he had disassociated,” she said.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

“Police asked him to fill in one of these forms, which were being piloted at that stage, and he did so.

“So it occurred in very contrived circumstances where this defendant had very vested interests … he did what he was told, when it suited him, when it was in his best interests.”

Magistrate Jayne Basheer refused the man bail and remanded him in custody until August.

Paul Mazurkiewicz, for the second man, said his client be allowed to remain at liberty because, on the police version of events, he “played a lesser role” in the alleged offending.

He said his client was barely mentioned in the complainant’s statements to police and, when he was, it was him leaving a room or standing nearby while others uttered threats.

“All these allegations of gouging out eyeballs, firearms, being held down on beds, threats, demands for money, they don’t involve my client,” he said.

Mr Mazurkiewicz said the man who faced court on Friday was the “mover and shaker” in the incident, as described by the complainant’s witness statement.

“The complainant says he saw my client leave the room before (the man who appeared on Friday) demanded he continue to tell the Nomads he was not able to come up with the $30,000, but he still had to pay (that man) the $30,000,” he said.

“(That man) also told the complainant if he ever told anyone about it, he would kill him.

“It would appear (that man) was on a frolic of his own and recruited other people to help him.”

He said his client had left the gang and now “faced consequences” as a result of that decision.

Ms McDonald said the man should be remanded in custody, saying he played far more than a “peripheral” role in the incident.

She said he had menaced the complainant physically, by standing close to him and raising his fists, and verbally by agreeing with and supporting threats made by others.

“It was not a stroll in the park — it was heated and animated,” she said.

Ms McDonald said the man was part of a 13-strong group that flew to Adelaide, threatened the complainant “as the first thing they did” and then “flew out the next day”.

“These people put themselves in the one per cent of the population that holds itself above the law and this is what they do — retribution and intimidation,” she said.

She said that, when the man was arrested, he was found to be in possession of a sawn-off .22 calibre rifle and a loaded magazine for an SKS assault rifle.

Magistrate Basheer remanded the man in custody overnight and will hand down her ruling on bail tomorrow.


12 Nomad outlaw bikie gang members arrested in SA and NSW

Twelve Nomad bikie gang members have been arrested and charged with a range of offences,

Twelve Nomad bikie gang members have been arrested and charged with a range of offences, including solicit to murder.

FOR nine months, police have tracked the Adelaide chapter of the Nomad outlaw bikie gang amid allegations of extortion within its own ranks.

Today, the gang is in shreds after being smashed by a two-state police operation, and eight South Australian Nomads, including two of the gang’s highest-ranking patched members, are in jail. A ninth is on the run.

Charges against a total of 12 people include soliciting to murder, kidnapping, blackmail and assault, and police say they have dealt the gang a “significant blow”.

The group only has 10 or 12 patched members in Adelaide and The Advertiser understands it has been established in SA for about a year.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Dickson said the SA president and sergeant-at-arms, as well as the NSW-based national vice president, were arrested as part of the operation. He said the victims were other members or associates of the gang.

“All of these offences were committed as a result of the victims not undertaking the required acts set out by the Nomads,” he said.

Mr Dickson said the allegations showed what outlaw bikies were capable of, especially as the offences were allegedly committed against their own.

“They are quite happy to harm the community and they are quite happy to harm their own members if it suits them,” he said.

He said there were 10 outlaw bikie gangs operating in SA, with about 300 members.

“About 25 per cent of OMGC members are in police custody or under some sort of condition, like parole,” he said.

High-ranking outlaw bikies arrested

Director of Litigation Research Unit at the University of Adelaide David Caruso said arrests of this scale send a clear message to the club.

“The police are obviously confident they have built a significant case to say that there are at least this number of people involved in a criminal enterprise,” he said.

“With the Nomads in South Australia, where the number is not many more than the group arrested, it at least sends a message from the police – which needs to be tested in court – that says they are operating in South Australia for criminal purposes.”

As part of the operation, more than 170 officers from SA and NSW conducted raids across the two states, with 18 Adelaide properties searched.

Police will allege the offences happened in SA between November 2014 and March 2015, and the 12 arrested people were either full members, nominees, prospects or associates of the Nomads.

“These are well-organised criminal gangs driven by a culture of self-interest and violence internally and within the community,” Mr Dickson said.

“This offending also demonstrates again the cost and risks linked with being a member of, or associated with, an OMCG.”

Five South Australians, aged between 24 and 50, were arrested in NSW and have appeared in court for extradition back to their home state. Another three South Australians – from Andrews Farm, Parafield Gardens and Pennington – were arrested in Adelaide and were in court on Wednesday.

Of the four NSW residents arrested, three will face extradition to Adelaide.

Those arrested are:

■ A Clearview man, 24, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

He will be charged in SA with solicit to murder, two counts of aggravated blackmail, participating in criminal organisation, aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent and aggravated kidnapping.

■ An Elizabeth North man, 26, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

Supplied Editorial

An alleged Nomad bikie gang member is arrested in NSW. Picture: NSW Police

He will be charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment, participating in criminal organisation and aggravated kidnapping.

■ An Andrew Farms man, 26, was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent. He appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday and was remanded in custody until August 4.

■ A Paralowie man, 50, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

He will be charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent.

■ A Campbelltown man, 31, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

He will be charged with participating in a criminal organisation.

■ A Para Vista man, 40, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

Police-supplied images of the Nomad bikie arrests - this arrest takes place at Clearview.

Police-supplied images of the Nomad bikie arrests – this arrest takes place at Clearview.

Images of the arrest at Clearview.

Images of the arrest at Clearview.

He will be charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment and participating in a criminal organisation

■ A Parafield Gardens man, 37, was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment, participating in a criminal organisation and aggravated kidnapping.

He appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday and was remanded in custody until August 4.

■ A Pennington man, 35, was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment, participating in a criminal organisation and aggravated kidnapping.

He appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday and was remanded in custody until August 4.

■ A Sydney man, 30, has been arrested and following a court appearance will be extradited to SA to face two counts of aggravated blackmail, making aggravated threats to kill and cause harm, aggravated assault causing harm, blackmail and participating in a criminal organisation.

■ A 37-year-old man, from Kenthurst in NSW, was arrested and charged with making aggravated threats to kill and cause harm, aggravated assault causing harm and aggravated blackmail.

He has been bailed to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on June 1.

■ A 30-year-old man, from Fletcher in NSW, was charged with making aggravated threats to kill and cause harm and aggravated assault causing harm.

He is expected to appear at an extradition hearing in NSW today.

■ A 26-year-old man, from Merrylands West in NSW, was charged with aggravated blackmail. He is expected to appear at an extradition hearing in NSW tomorrow.

Police have also issued a warrant for the arrest of a Paralowie man, 41, who is wanted in connection with this investigation.


ONE of Australia’s most senior outlaw bikies has attended an Adelaide court to support an arrested colleague following raids that have left their gang in shreds.

Nomads national president Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour sat in the public gallery of the Adelaide Magistrates Court today, while one of his crew sat in the dock in custody.

The Advertiser understands that man, 31, whose identity has been suppressed, is a senior national office-bearer for the club.

Mr Tajjour outside the Adelaide Magistrates Court, where he was supporting a colleague.

Mr Tajjour outside the Adelaide Magistrates Court, where he was supporting a colleague.

Nomads national president Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour flashes a smile for waiting media.

Nomads national president Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour flashes a smile for waiting media.

He has yet to plead to two counts of aggravated blackmail, making threats to kill and cause harm and aggravated assault causing harm.

The man is further charged with blackmail and participating in a criminal organisation.

He was one of 12 gang members arrested yesterday in a two-state operation that involved more than 170 officers from SA and NSW.

Mr Tajjour, who has not been charged with any offence, listened from the public gallery as prosecutor Sandi McDonald, SC, asked the charged man’s case be adjourned.

A member of the Nomads gang being escorted out of the City watch house.

A member of the Nomads gang being escorted out of the City watch house.

“This is his first appearance, and this matter will eventually join up with the 12 other accused on a date that has been set in August,” she said.

Ms McDonald said three of those accused had already faced court, while the others would be flown into Adelaide this afternoon to face court on Monday.

She asked the man’s name and image be suppressed until police completed identification procedures.

One of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

One of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

Ms McDonald also asked the court suppress the names, images and anything that would tend to identify the two alleged victims in the matter.

“By the next court date we will have received statements from the two alleged victims, which I understand are quite voluminous,” she said.

“We will also be making an application to have this defendant declared a serious organised crime offender.”

Another member of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

Another member of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

A third extradited Nomad gang member being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

A third extradited Nomad gang member being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

The man’s Sydney-based lawyer, Omar Juweinat, said his client would be seeking release on bail and asked a hearing date be set.

“The officer in charge (of the operation) is most likely going to be required for a short cross-examination during that hearing,” he said.

Magistrate Jayne Basheer remanded the man in custody for a bail hearing next month, and to join up with his co-accused’s cases in August.

Mr Tajjour declined to comment outside court, telling reporters to “ask my lawyer”.

Mr Huweinat also declined to comment.


Gerard Baden-Clay Appeal 7th August 2015

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Mountains of stuff on here about the tragic death of Allison by her husband Gerard Baden Clay. To catch up here is a link to posts tagged with Allison below

http://aussiecriminals.com.au/?s=alison+baden+clay&submit=Search

ALSO feel free to use the menu up top to get the full picture.

Reserved for appeal hearing and discussion


Appeal begins for Gerard Baden-Clay

Lawyers for Gerard Baden-Clay will argue his conviction was ‘unreasonable’

LAWYERS for Gerard Baden-Clay will today argue that his conviction for the murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay should be quashed on the grounds it was ‘unreasonable’.

12.25pm: The appeal hearing has finished and the three judges have reserved their decision. They will give a written judgement, expected within three months.

12.23pm: Mr Copley, for Baden-Clay, said Allison’s blood in her car could have been from “some innocent incident” on another day.

12.21pm: Justice Catherine Holmes put to Mr Byrne the scenario that there had been an argument between Baden-Clay and his wife and that she had fallen, hit her head and died and that he had panicked.

“What’s wrong with that as a reasonable hypothesis,” Justice Holmes said.

Mr Byrne said the trial judge left murder open to the jury because there was such a long period of denials by Baden-Clay including his lengthy court testimony. Mr Byrne has concluded his arguments and defence barrister Michael Copley is addressing the court again.

12.05pm: Michael Byrne QC, the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions said the evidence suggested it was likely Allison was put in the third row of seating of her Holden Captiva and transported to Kholo Creek Bridge after a fatal attack.

“It’s a short series of dots to connect the proposition he drove her there but it is still not one that needed to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”

He added that if the jury inferred the blood in her car was from after the fatal attack, it indicated there had been an injury to hide that may have been undetectable due to decomposition.

Olivia Walton, center, sister of convicted murderer Gerard Baden-Clay arrives at court wi

Olivia Walton, center, sister of convicted murderer Gerard Baden-Clay arrives at court with defence lawyer Penny White. Source: News Corp Australia

11.55am: Mr Byrne said the lack of conclusive opinion from experts on the finer scratches did not affect the jury’s ability to reach their verdict.

Moving on to the other defence arguments, Mr Byrne went through some of the key evidence against Baden-Clay.

He said the former real estate agent must have known of the possibility his wife and mistress would meet at a conference they were both to attend on the day he reported her missing.

“There are scratches to his face that were not there on the 19th (the day before she was reported missing).

“There is the leaf litter which is in our submission significant.”

The fact there were six different types of leaf all of which could be found in or adjacent to the couple’s property was a telling feature, he said.

When all the factors were put together, it was not necessary for the Crown to show Baden-Clay moved his wife’s body to the bridge for a murder verdict to be open.

11.44am: Gerard’s defence barrister has concluded his arguments and Michael Byrne QC, the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, has begun addressing the court about the Crown case.

Mr Byrne, addressing the defence grounds for the appeal, said there had been evidence the broader marks on Baden-Clay’s face were older than the finer injuries.

It was open for the jury to accept the broader marks were from fingernails and the finer marks from a razor at a later time, and to infer Baden-Clay had attempted to disguise the scratch marks.

11.32am: Allison Baden-Clay’s death could have been from an unintentional killing arising out of an argument, making a murder conviction unreasonable, her husband Gerard’s defence barrister has told the court.

The argument could have been related to his affair with former staffer Toni McHugh and may have escalated to violence, resulting in the scratches on Baden-Clay’s face.

He was then left with a “dead wife”, and the situation of people knowing about the affair and his promises to Ms McHugh that he would leave his wife by July 1.

“And he’s panicked,” Mr Copley said.

“A jury could not rationally conclude he murdered his wife based on the fact he told a lie about how the injuries were inflicted.

“The possibility is open that everything he did in the days after the killing was attributable to panic.”

11.22am: Continuing his argument that the verdict was unreasonable, defence barrister Michael Copley said the couple’s daughters had not heard any screaming or fighting on the night and no blood was found in the house.

“There were scratches to his face but the contention is and was those scratches don’t reveal anything at all about the intention that he had when he was engaged in some sort of (altercation) with his wife.”

The scratches revealed only that Allison was “close enough” to inflict them and that there was some sort of altercation.

The “fact the doctor can’t determine the cause of death” was strongly in favour of a conclusion the death was other than intentional.

Prosecutors had argued the scratches were inflicted by Allison in self-defence “fighting for her life”.

But there were other possible explanations including that they were inflicted in anger or in the course of a struggle, Mr Copley said.

There was nothing to show if Alison had scratched her husband at the start or an argument or during the middle, with all possibilities open.

11.13am: The defence says the prosecution had asserted there was an accumulation of pressures on Baden-Clay, including from his long-running affair with his former staffer Toni McHugh.

But the evidence did not support that Baden-Clay was going to leave his wife, Mr Copley said.

“He told his wife in 2010 he no longer loved her. But…he didn’t act on the absence of love.

“He stayed in the marriage.”

The affair with Ms McHugh was discovered in 2011 and Baden-Clay still stayed at the home.

“The notion he was moving towards a departure from his wife is not sustainable.”

Prosecutors had also cited the business pressures on Baden-Clay and the fact he had borrowed money from friends and not paid them back.

“Sure there were financial pressures but my contention … is that hadn’t increased dramatically. That hadn’t changed substantially.”

11am: Baden-Clay’s defence barrister has told the court the murder conviction was unreasonable.

“What evidence was there that elevated the case from an unlawful killing to one of an unintentional killing?” Mr Copley said.

He said a premeditated killing had not been alleged, with prosecutors stating “there was uncharacteristic conduct engaged in by my client”.

There was no evidence of prior violence in the relationship and no evidence either party were abusers of illicit drugs or alcohol, he said.

10.50am: The next element of the appeal was that the jury should have been directed they needed to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Baden-Clay put his wife’s body at the creek where she was found, before they could rely on that conduct as capable of proving he killed his wife.

Justice Holmes asked Mr Copley: “How do you get there?”

“Why couldn’t you come to the conclusion he was the killer without needing to know how it was the body arrived at the creek?” Justice Holmes said.

“Why couldn’t he have called someone … to aid him to take the body away?”

Gerard Baden-Clay’s father Nigel arrives at court.

Gerard Baden-Clay’s father Nigel arrives at court. Source: News Corp Australia

10.45am: Before moving on to the other grounds of the appeal, Mr Copley concluded that experts had not agreed definitively that the smaller marks on Baden-Clay’s face were caused at a different time and by a different implement.

The jury had been invited to infer guilt from evidence which had not been established, he said.

“The evil of that is for all we know the leading of that circumstance could have … tipped the balance in favour of a verdict of guilt in the minds of some or all of the members of the jury. We just don’t know.”

10.30am: In terms of the timing of when the facial injuries occurred, an expert gave evidence at the trial that he could not separate the various injuries from photos, Mr Copley said,

“If the experts couldn’t say whether those injuries … had been inflicted at a different time … how could the jury have been capable of resolving (the matter)?”

The prosecution had to show the injuries on Baden-Clay’s face were inflicted at different times and by a different implement, otherwise there wasn’t a disguising element, he said.

Justice Catherine Holmes suggested both sides agreed at trial that the smaller red marks on Baden-Clay’s face were razor marks, as Gerard had said he cut himself shaving.

10:20am: Defence barrister Michael Copley QC opened the appeal by discussing injuries on Baden-Clay’s face.

He said prosecutors left it to the jury to conclude he tried to disguise scratches on his face by making further smaller injuries with a razor, and that this was evidence he had murdered his wife.

He says the evidence didn’t establish that the smaller marks on Baden-Clay’s face were made at a different time than larger scratches.

Gerard Baden-Clay’s sister Olivia Walton (centre) arrives at court with defence lawyers P

Gerard Baden-Clay’s sister Olivia Walton (centre) arrives at court with defence lawyers Peter Shields and Penny White. Source: News Corp Australia

Earlier: At least 150 people have gathered in the public gallery of the Banco court, a half an hour before Gerard Baden-Clay’s appeal.

Geoff and Priscilla Dickie, Allison Baden-Clay’s parents, are in the front row with s large family contingent wearing yellow ribbons.


 Gerard Baden-Clay: Court of Appeal reserves decision over murder conviction

7th August 2015

Allison Baden-Clay and Gerard Baden-Clay

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane has reserved its decision on a challenge against Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction.

Lawyers appealing against Baden-Clay’s life sentence, with a 15-year non-parole period, for the murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay in 2012 today said it was possible he unintentionally killed her.

The appeal decision will be handed down at a later date.

Ms Baden-Clay’s parents, Geoff and Priscilla Dickie, were among the 200 people present in court as legal counsel for the former real estate agent appeal on four grounds, namely that:

  • The verdict of murder was unreasonable;
  • A miscarriage of justice occurred because the jury was not directed on evidence relating to the presence of Allison’s blood in the car;
  • The trial judge erred in law in not directing the jury over evidence relating to the placement of Allison’s body at Kholo Creek;
  • The trial judge also erred in leaving to the jury that Baden-Clay attempted to disguise marks on his face by making razor cuts.

Barrister Michael Copley QC, who alongside high-profile solicitor Peter Shields, was representing Baden-Clay, argued the fourth appeal ground first.

There’re no injuries on the body consistent with an intentional killing.

Michael Copley QC, representing Gerard Baden-Clay

Police had noticed scratches on the right-hand side of Baden-Clay’s face when they visited the family’s rented Brookfield home in response to his triple-0 call in April 2012.

Baden-Clay insisted he had cut himself shaving, but experts told the court during the six-week trial, they were more “typical of fingernail scratches” not “a razor blade injury”.

Mr Copley questioned the crown’s claim that scratches on Baden-Clay’s face were signs of Allison fighting for her life.

He said the scratches revealed that Allison had been close enough to scratch her husband and that their relationship was not in good shape.

But he said the marks did not reveal why she scratched him.

Mr Copley said there were no injuries on Allison’s body consistent with an intentional killing, which he said favoured an unintentional killing.

“A jury could not rationally conclude that he murdered his wife based upon the fact he told a lie about how the injuries were inflicted,” he said.

“There’re no injuries on the body consistent with an intentional killing.”

Earlier in the appeal hearing, Mr Copley argued that experts could not say whether two sets of marks on Baden-Clay’s face occurred at different times or were made by different implements, yet the jury was asked to do so.

“The jury was invited to infer a path of guilt to murder on the basis of conduct the evidence did not establish the appellant engaged in,” Mr Copley said.

Prosecutor Michael Byrne, who was acting for the Crown, said an expert did testify at trial that marks to Baden-Clay’s face were done at different times and open to the jury to consider.

He said medical witnesses were entitled to use their common sense and experience, and jurors were entitled to decide for themselves.

Mr Byrne said a lack of conclusive evidence from the experts was not prohibitive for the jury to act on.

‘No evidence that there had ever been violence between the parties’

In arguing the first point of the appeal, that the verdict of murder was unreasonable, Mr Copley said: “There was no evidence in this case that there had ever been violence between the parties.”

Mr Copley said part of the Crown’s argument at trial was that pressure from Baden-Clay’s mistress contributed to Allison’s death.

He said evidence in regard to Baden-Clay’s intentions concerning his wife and mistress were at best equivocal.

He said the notion that Baden-Clay was moving towards a departure from his wife was not sustainable from evidence at trial.

Mr Copley then moved on to financial pressures.

“Sure there were financial pressures … but they hadn’t increased substantially, they hadn’t changed dramatically,” he said.

Allison Baden-Clay was last seen on April 19, 2012.

Her husband reported her missing the next day, sparking a major police and SES search.

Ten days later her body was found on the banks of the Kholo Creek at Anstead.

Suspicion centred on Baden-Clay but it was not until nearly seven weeks later he was arrested and charged.

He has always maintained his innocence.

Baden-Clay was not at today’s hearing.

He remains at Wolston Correctional Centre where he has been since last year’s sentencing.

More on this story:

  • Baden-Clay launches appeal against murder conviction
  • Allison Baden-Clay’s family detail their pain and devastation
  • Allison Baden-Clay murder: family members detail pain and devastation in statements to court

    Timeline: Baden-Clay murder trial

    By Josh Bavas and staff

    Tue 15 Jul 2014, 2:53pm

    Former Brisbane real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay has been found guilty of murdering his wife Allison in April 2012.

    Her body was found on a creek bank 10 days after her husband reported her missing from their home in nearby Brookfield.

    Baden-Clay was charged with murdering his wife and interfering with a corpse, pleading not guilty to both charges.

    And so began a month-long trial involving hundreds of witness statements and garnering massive public interest.

    Take a look back at how Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance and the resulting murder trial unfolded.

    April 20, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay calls police about 7:30am to report his wife missing.

    Police seek public help to find 43-year-old Allison Baden-Clay, reported missing since the previous night.

    Authorities say she was last seen at her house on Brookfield Road wearing grey tracksuit pants and a dark top.

    April 22, 2012

    Inspector Mark Laing confirms Gerard Baden-Clay crashed his car into a bus terminal outside Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.

    April 23, 2012

    A major incident room is set up at Indooroopilly police station for investigation into Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance.

    Her parents make a public appeal for help to find their daughter.

    Allison’s mother Priscilla Dickie makes an emotional plea to the media.

    “Please, please help us to find our dear Allison,” she said.

    Police ask local residents to search their properties for even the smallest piece of information.

    Superintendent Mark Ainsworth says Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance is being treated as a missing person case; not a criminal investigation.

    He says Gerard Baden-Clay is not a person of interest.

    Allison Baden-Clay’s father Geoff Dickie praises efforts of police and SES in trying to locate his daughter over the previous weekend.

    “We are overwhelmed by the support in trying to locate Allison,” he said.

    “Please help us because there are three beautiful little girls – of Allison’s – wanting to see their mother as soon as possible.”

    April 24, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay speaks to the media outside his house.

    “I’m trying to look after my children at the moment, we’ve got three young girls. We really trust that the police are doing everything they can to find my wife,” he said.

    April 26, 2012

    A prayer vigil is held for Allison.

    Reverend Beverley Bell from the Anglican Parish of Kenmore says it is a difficult time for the community.

    “Just not knowing what’s happened and there’s that sense of helplessness; what can we do?” he said.

    Detectives seize bags of material from the Baden-Clay house and Gerard Baden-Clay’s office.

    April 27, 2012

    Brisbane police step up efforts to find Allison Baden-Clay by setting up a mannequin outside her family home at Brookfield.

    The mannequin is wearing clothing similar to what the 43-year-old was in when she was last seen by her husband.

    Emergency crews widen their search area.

    April 28, 2012

    Allison Baden-Clay has been missing for more than a week.

    Police say they still have few leads despite the major investigation.

    Gerard Baden-Clay releases a brief statement to media thanking the public for their support, saying his priority is the welfare of his wife and their three daughters.

    April 30, 2012

    A canoeist discovers a woman’s body on a creek bank under Kholo Bridge Crossing at Anstead in Brisbane’s west, 11 days after Allison Baden-Clay disappeared.

    Police remove the body and confirm they are now treating Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance as a homicide investigation.

    Investigators wait for formal identification.

    Superintendent Mark Ainsworth says police are taking seriously the possibility that the body belongs to Allison Baden-Clay and her family is notified.

    “They’re devastated. You can’t explain it any other way,” he said.

    Police appeal for information from anyone who may have seen anything in the area the night she disappeared, including either of the family’s cars.

    May 1, 2012

    Police confirm the body found is that of Allison Baden-Clay.

    Superintendent Mark Ainsworth says her death is officially being treated as a murder investigation.

    “At this stage we are looking at an unlawful homicide investigation – we have been looking at that for some time now; we believe it has reached that level some time ago,” he said.

    Gerard Baden-Clay says he is devastated by the loss of his wife.

    In a statement released by his lawyer, Baden-Clay says his primary concern now is the care of his three daughters.

    He says he just wants to provide his children with some stability and normality given the tragic news and despite “the unrelenting media barrage”.

    A few kilometres away at Kenmore, Baden-Clay’s parents emerge from their home and lower their Australian flag to half mast.

    Neighbours do the same before they all hug each other in grief.

    Meanwhile, a SIM card is discovered in bushland near the search area.

    May 2, 2012

    Police say they are confident they will find the killer of Allison Baden-Clay.

    Investigators say a mobile phone SIM card found at the scene has no link to the case.

    Police say a post-mortem examination on the body will determine the next phase of the investigation.

    Gerard Baden-Clay asks the media for privacy and to let police do their investigations.

    May 10, 2012

    Police are stationed at a roundabout near the Baden-Clays’ Brookfield home.

    Police set up a roadblock on Brookfield Road and speak to drivers, hoping to glean information which may help with their investigation.

    Detectives want to hear from anyone driving in the area the night before Allison Baden-Clay was reported missing.

    May 11, 2012

    A funeral service is held at St Paul’s Anglican Church at Ipswich, west of Brisbane.

    Hundreds of mourners come to pay their respects, including Allison’s immediate family and husband Gerard Baden-Clay.

    Her sister Vanessa Fowler says there are still many questions left unanswered about the circumstances surrounding the 43-year-old’s death.

    “We, your family, pledge to you that we will have these questions answered. We will bring you justice because you deserve nothing less,” she said.

    “Allison, your loss has been felt throughout the entire country by people who do not know you.”

    Mourners are asked to donate to an appeal to support the Baden-Clays’ three young daughters.

    The cause of her death remains unknown.

    May 18, 2012

    Police again say they are confident they will make an arrest over her murder, four weeks after she was reported missing by her husband.

    Police say the killing was not random and the killer was known to Allison but they are yet to make an arrest.

    It is believed police are still awaiting autopsy and toxicology results to confirm her cause of death.

    May 25, 2012

    Police say they are continuing to examine a wide range of evidence.

    May 29, 2012

    Detectives investigating receive the toxicology results but will not release them publicly.

    June 13, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay talks to police at the Indooroopilly police station for several hours.

    His lawyers say he is expected to be charged with her murder later tonight. They say he is devastated and will vigorously defend the charge.

    Baden-Clay tells police Allison disappeared after going for a late night walk from their home.

    He is remanded in custody, formally interviewed and charged with murder and interfering with a corpse.

    June 14, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay appears in Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with murder, about two months after first reporting his wife missing.

    Prosecution grants a forensic order to allow police to obtain a DNA sample from him.

    His lawyers say the charges will be vigorously defended, and lodge a bail application in the Supreme Court.

    Residents around Brookfield tell the media of their shock.

    June 21, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s bail application begins in the Supreme Court.

    June 22, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay loses his bail application in the Supreme Court with Justice David Boddice saying the accused posed a significant flight risk.

    Prosecutor Danny Boyle earlier argued that Baden-Clay had a financial motive for killing his wife and also cited entries in Allison’s journal suggest the couple may have discussed an affair he had been having with a co-worker.

    Mr Baden-Clay’s barrister, Peter Davis SC, says the Crown’s case is circumstantial and weak.

    June 24, 2012

    A fundraiser is held for Baden-Clay’s three daughters.

    Mike Kaye from the Brookfield Uniting Cricket Club says the fundraiser is important to the family.

    “It’s an opportunity for Allison’s parents Geoff and Priscilla and brothers and sisters to thank the community for their support and also for all those who were out there searching,” he said.

    July 9, 2012

    The case returns to Brisbane Magistrates Court for a hearing.

    Magistrate Chris Callaghan says he is “flabbergasted” upon hearing it will take five months for police to fully examine the financial affairs of Gerard Baden-Clay.

    The court hears there will be 330 statements tendered to the defence but the prosecution says it will not have a forensic accountant’s report until November.

    The prosecution has been ordered to provide most of the brief of evidence to Baden-Clay’s lawyers within six weeks.

    September 3, 2012

    The matter returns to court where Baden-Clay’s lawyers express frustration that prosecutors still have not provided them with all of the witness statements.

    Prosecutor Danny Boyle tells the court 446 witness statements have already been provided to defence team but five statements, described as crucial, remain outstanding.

    The prosecution is ordered to provide outstanding documents by the end of the week.

    September 5, 2012

    A Supreme Court Judge, Justice Glenn Martin, gives Allison’s father Geoffrey James Dickie temporary control of her estate, including her life insurance policy.

    If Baden-Clay is acquitted of his wife’s murder he will resume his role as executor of her will.

    If he is convicted, Allison’s parents will be able to go back to court for a permanent order granting them control of their daughter’s estate.

    December 14, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s defence lawyer lodges a bail application in Supreme Court for the second time.

    His lawyer argues the Crown case has been weakened by the results of a post-mortem examination.

    They say it shows Allison Baden-Clay had traces of an anti-depressant drug in her blood – leaving open the possibility that she took her own life.

    But Justice Peter Applegarth dismisses the application, ruling there was no material change of circumstances and the strength of Crown case was unaffected by the results.

    February 6, 2013

    The Federal Court orders nearly $800,000 from two life insurance policies for Allison Baden-Clay will be held in trust by the court.

    Justice John Dowsett agrees the court should hold the money until after Gerard Baden-Clay faces trial.

    March 11-20, 2013

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s committal hearing begins.

    The Crown alleges Baden-Clay killed his wife because he wanted her insurance payouts to clear his debts and to be with his mistress.

    The court hears his wife had suffered from depression and had used medication to cope and that her marriage was troubled.

    Witnesses tell the court about hearing a woman yell the night Allison disappeared.

    A forensic expert says he believes injuries to Gerard Baden-Clay, which were photographed by police after he reported his wife missing, were caused by fingernail scratches.

    Allison’s friend Kerry Anne Walker is the first of more than 40 witnesses to testify.

    Queensland MP Dr Bruce Flegg tells the court he heard a woman scream on the night before Allison was reported missing.

    Speaking outside the court, Dr Flegg explains his decision not to report it to police that night, saying: “There was nothing to suggest it would be a criminal or police related matter.”

    Dr Flegg says he has known Gerard Baden-Clay “for a long time”.

    A senior Queensland Health forensic expert says some of Baden-Clay’s facial injuries may have been scratch marks but says it is possible some were caused by shaving.

    Two former real estate partners testify Baden-Clay was in debt and was warned to leave his wife or mistress or he would lose their business association.

    Queensland Police Service forensic accountant Kelly Beckett tells court Gerard Baden-Clay’s net financial position was about $70,000 and he owed more than $300,000 to family and friends.

    Baden-Clay’s former mistress Toni McHugh tells the court he told her to lay low in the days after his wife’s disappearance and that he could not afford a divorce.

    His lawyer says he is determined to clear his name.

    Outside court, Baden-Clay’s sister Olivia Walton defends her brother after speaking to the media for the first time.

    “Gerard is an innocent man and I’m here because I continue to support him,” she said.

    Outside court, Baden-Clay’s lawyer Darren Mahony says he believes the cross-examination of 40 witnesses went in his client’s favour.

    “We’re of the view that the evidence against Mr Baden-Clay has been significantly weakened by cross-examination during the court process,” he said.

    December 19, 2013

    Supreme Court Justice James Douglas argues marriage counsellor Ms Carmel Ritchie from Relationships Australia should give evidence at a pre-trial hearing about anything said during counselling sessions.

    Ms Ritchie tries to prevent evidence from the sessions being used in court, arguing it is protected by confidentiality provisions of the Family Law Act.

    February 3-4, 2014

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s re-trial hearing begins in Supreme Court.

    The court hears from pathologist Dr Nathan Milne who conducted the autopsy on Allison Baden-Clay.

    Counsellor Carmel Ritchie also gives evidence, saying Allison told her she had taken an anti-malarial tablet during her honeymoon that had caused psychotic episodes, depression and panic attacks.

    Ms Ritchie tells the court Allison spoke of: her husband’s affair with an employee; how she had confronted him when she found out; and he was now honest and taking responsibility.

    Ms Ritchie also speaks of a separate counselling session with Gerard Baden-Clay where they discussed the affair.

    June 2, 2014

    The pre-trial hearing continues.

    The court hears potential jurors will be polled prior to their selection and will be asked:

  1. If they or their immediate family lived in Anstead, Bellbowrie, Brookfield or Chapel Hill in April 2012;
  2. If they have ever contributed funds relating to the disappearance or death of Allison Baden-Clay;
  3. Whether they have ever expressed a view as to the guilt or innocence of Gerard Baden-Clay.
  • June 9, 2014

    A jury of seven men and five women, plus three reserves, is selected.

    June 10, 2014

    The murder trial begins.

    Gerard Baden-Clay officially pleads not guilty in the Supreme Court to murdering his wife more than two years ago.

    Justice John Byrne tells jury members to ignore all media coverage of the case during the next four weeks.

    July 9, 2014

    After a month-long trial, the prosecution and the defence finish wrapping up their final arguments.

    Justice John Byrne begins summing up the case for the jurors.

    July 15, 2014

    Baden-Clay is found guilty of murder.

Flowers for Allison, may justice has been served

Flowers for Allison, may justice has been served

Vile paedophile Gerald Ridsdale gives evidence at Royal Commission today


IN his own words, Gerald Francis Ridsdale was “out of control”, and spoke of his desire to be removed from situations where he had evil urges to molest small children.

Ridsdale — Australia’s worst paedophile priest — told church investigators after his first conviction in 1994 that he “went haywire” in the Victorian town of Mortlake where he’s believed to have abused every boy in school.

Asked by a Catholic Church representative what happened he said: “I got out of control again. I went haywire there. Altar boys mainly.

“It was no secret around Mortlake eventually about me and my behaviour; there was talk all around the place among the children and one lot of parents came to me.”

Ridsdale has been convicted for abusing more than 50 children over 30 years, but the real figure may be in the hundreds.

He is giving evidence before the child sex abuse royal commission’s Ballarat inquiry on from his jail cell.

In admissions being streamed live over the internet, Ridsdale has told the hearing he couldn’t control his sexual urges and was hoping to get “sexual instructions ” on how to relate to people from the church.

He said he’d always felt the need for intimacy and closeness. But the only intimacy he ever had with an adult came while he was in prison.

“I think I’ve always felt the need for closeness.”

He realised he was attracted to young boys not women while he was at Werribee seminary. Despite the realisation, he didn’t want to lose the “status” of being a priest.

Also while he was at the seminary he had a problem with masturbation and was told he needed to stop it “or leave” — but he says he couldn’t stop.

Gerald Ridsdale gives evidence by video link.

Gerald Ridsdale gives evidence by video link. Source: Supplied

Ridsdale said he never told anyone about his sexual abuse of boys, even during confession, because the “overriding fear would have been losing the priesthood”.

Asked what he specifically didn’t confess he said: “The sexual offending against children.”

The 81-year-old was aware what he was doing was a crime.

Speaking matter of factly, Ridsdale couldn’t remember the names of his earliest victims but is relying on court documents.

Asked whether he selected his victims by deliberately targeting “poor families”, Ridsdale agreed.

“It’s obvious to me now that there was a pattern of seeing victims as being vulnerable … but not always vulnerable,” he said.

He also agreed his usual method was to involve himself with multiple families with no father present and then use opportunities such as church camps and outings to abuse the children of those families.

He has told of “fondling and touching” young boys and once a complaint was made he was threatened to be shipped to the “missions”.

In another major development today, Cardinal George Pell has said he is prepared to give evidence at the Royal Commission in person if he has asked to, but so far he hasn’t been asked Sky News reported.

What the church knew about the abuse — and how it treated the news — has formed a major part of what the commission is investigating.

A series of letters and documents published on the sex abuse royal commission’s website reveal details of Ridsdale’s abuse and the response from the Catholic Church, including Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

‘I went haywire with altar boys’

Gerald Ridsdale (left) arriving to court with George Pell Source: Supplied

Ridsdale has been convicted for abusing more than 50 children over three decades, dating back to his ordination in 1961.

After parents complained to then Ballarat Bishop James O’Collins about Ridsdale in 1961, O’Collins told him: “If this thing happens again then you’re off to the Missions” and sent him to Mildura. The royal commission was also told Bishop Mulkearns knew in 1975 that Ridsdale had abused boys — but did not act until 1988.

Among the other documents are a letter from Ridsdale to Bishop Mulkearns about stepping down from parish work in Horsham, 11 April, 1988: “I confirm my request to step down from parish work in this diocese so that I may be removed from the kind of work that has proved to be a temptation and a difficulty for me.”

In a letter to a victim in 1979, Ridsdale wrote as if they were lovers and told him some good would come from his abuse, the Herald Sun reported.

“I don’t know how much you know about me or how much you’ve guessed, but you’re the first person I’ve ever wanted to open up to. You’re the first kid I have been honest with and warned off (a bit late unfortunately, but I suppose all experiences bring some good out in us),” he wrote.

Bishop Mulkearns wrote to Ridsdale in November, 1988, after Ridsdale had faced a suspension from some duties for a year. Mulkearns noted Ridsdale had been doing some work helping isolated families but said it was not a good idea for him to celebrate reconciliation or baptism.

Australia’s worst paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

Australia’s worst paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale. Source: Supplied

“With regard to the problems which have arisen, it could possibly be asked at a later date whether you continued to administer sacraments and it would be to be able to state that you had not been involved at this level with people.

“I hope I don’t sound too harsh in the above, but I feel that it is most important that we honour the undertakings which have been given and that we do nothing at this time which might rebound on us later.

“I have every hope that nothing more will eventuate, but we have to do our part to ensure that it does not.”

Ridsdale will not be asked about his offending, after being convicted in four separate court cases of abusing more than 50 children. But the royal commission and victims want to know who was responsible for moving Ridsdale from parish to parish, allowing him to continue to offend.

A victim, who was abused by other clergy in the Ballarat diocese, said victims wanted the truth made public about who essentially facilitated the abusers.

“We’d love to know how high it went up the tree as well and if those people are still in power now,” the victim told AAP.


Child sexual abuse inquiry: Notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale feared confession would cost him priesthood, royal commission hears

Updated about an hour ago

One of Australia’s most notorious paedophiles, Gerald Ridsdale, never revealed the extent of his offending to avoid being stripped of his priesthood, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse in Ballarat has heard.

The elderly Ridsdale is giving evidence to the inquiry via video link from Ararat prison, where he is serving an eight-year sentence for the rape and abuse of children, some of them as young as four.

He told the royal commission he could not remember committing some of the offences and had forgotten the names of some of his earliest victims.

Ridsdale revealed he “didn’t confess the sexual offending against children” because he had a great fear of losing his priesthood.

“I was a very proud person … it just would’ve been devastating,” he told the commission.

He also told senior counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness SC, he could no longer recall being abused himself as a child, despite making statements to that effect in the 1990s.

Ridsdale said statements he made in 1994, about being abused by members of the clergy, including a Christian Brother when he was 11 or 12 years old, would have been correct at the time.

The inquiry is examining what the Catholic Church knew about the extent of Ridsdale’s offending as he was moved from town to town.

He was quizzed at length about whether or not people were warned about his offending tendencies as he was moved from between schools around western Victoria, in the 1960s and 70s.

When asked by Ms Furness if anyone was notified at Mildura, when he was relocated there from Ballarat, he answered “I don’t know”.

Ridsdale did say he was warned by clergy in Ballarat before being moved to Mildura, “if this happens again you’ll be off to the missions”.

Ridsdale recalled abusing choir boys in Mildura, and later at Swan Hill, when he was again moved on.

“Yes … there would probably be another couple [of victims] there,” he told Ms Furness.

But Ridsdale said as far as he knew, no-one in Swan Hill was aware of his offending, and he would not know if anyone at his next location, Warrnambool had been warned.

He said he was told “in the usual manner” that he would be relocated and that there was “no consultation”.

Ridsdale unable to control his sexual urges

Ms Furness also asked Ridsdale about his sexual urges.

He told the commission he felt bound to become a priest because of family expectations, but had problems controlling his sexual urges from the beginning.

Ridsdale said he would make confessions that he had masturbated, and was hoping to receive some “sexual instructions” from the church about what was appropriate during his training as a priest.

“Did you ever feel the need for intimacy, hugging and closeness?” asked Ms Furness of Ridsdale’s time at the Werribee seminary, where he started out.

“I think I’ve always felt the need for closeness,” Ridsdale responded.

He said he had had one adult relationship for three years, with a fellow prisoner.

Ridsdale said he was aware his offending against children was a crime.

“Did it occur to you at the time that you were hurting the children?” commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan asked Ridsdale.

“Your Honour, I just don’t know … I don’t know what I was thinking,” Ridsdale said.

Ridsdale told the inquiry the church should report crimes to the police.

He was asked if the church should have notified authorities of his own offending over the years.

He replied: “What I’ve done and the damage that I’ve done … I’d say, definitely yes”.

Ridsdale said while he had come to the view now that crimes should be disclosed, when he was a priest, “everything told in confession was to be kept secret”.

Inquiry probes Ridsdale’s relationship with Cardinal George Pell

Ridsdale told the royal commission the fact Cardinal George Pell accompanied him to court on child sex abuse charges in the 1990s was insignificant.

He said he could not recall much about his relationship with the then Father Pell in Ballarat in the 1970s, except he “would’ve met him, because he was Ballarat born-and-bred”.

“I can’t remember him being there … I can’t remember him … I never had much to do with him,” Ridsdale said of Cardinal Pell.

“We needed some people to come along [to court] for support … I don’t see it as having a very big significance.”

Ridsdale said his barrister asked Cardinal Pell to go to court, and he did not ask him himself.

He said, at the time, he did not know if Cardinal Pell knew about the nature of his charges, and he did not know, what Cardinal Pell planned to say.

He said his legal team was “clutching at straws.”

The hearing continues.

Robert Emmett, judges’ son, likely to avoid jail after conviction for child abuse material


Oh how sweet it is to have family like this sick bastard has. The black sheep from one of Australia’s most distinguished families of judges is likely to avoid jail, despite being convicted of possessing child abuse material. Possession of 10,000 sickening images as well as sneaking around trying to up-skirt while “He tied his shoelaces” Friggin pathetic, as if his family ties have not been laid bare in this case.

Updated 56 minutes ago

Robert Emmett was arrested for possessing more than 10,000 child abuse images.

Robert Emmett was arrested for possessing more than 10,000 child abuse images

A former teacher from one of Australia’s most distinguished families of judges is likely to avoid jail, despite being convicted of possessing child abuse material.

Robert Emmett, son of NSW Court of Appeal judge Arthur Emmett and Federal Circuit Court judge Sylvia Emmett, was arrested in 2013 for possessing more than 10,000 child abuse images, some involving bestiality, pain and humiliation.

Emmett’s grandfather is Sir Laurence Street, former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, a position also held by his father Sir Kenneth Street and his father Sir Philip Street.

Robert Emmett, a former maths teacher at St Andrew’s Cathedral School, today pleaded guilty to charges that included filming the private parts of children and possessing child abuse material.

In the NSW District Court, a sentencing judge said Emmett was remorseful and had no prior convictions.

The court heard Emmett walked around St Andrew’s filming some students on his camera phone and, on one occasion, pretended to tie his shoelace while crouching down to film up a girl’s dress at Town Hall Station in the CBD.

Some images in the ‘worst category of abuse’

District Court judge Ian McClintock said some of the images found in Emmett’s possession were in the “worst category of abuse”, involving pain, bestiality and humiliation and that some involved children as young as four.

The court heard the images were photos and videos, but it was not clear how he acquired all of them.

“There is no evidence the child abuse material was for anything but personal use,” the judge said, adding that some of the images were disturbing.

He said Emmett secretly videoed three schoolgirls aged 14.

“In my view it is a significant aggravating feature that the offender was a school teacher,” the judge said, noting that Emmett abused his position of trust.

He referred to the “significant violation” of the students’ rights.

Judge McClintock said Emmett’s family was not aware of his activities and that the 38-year-old had a good support network to help with his rehabilitation.

The court heard Emmett was remorseful, timid and shy and would need to be in a high level of protective custody in jail.

It heard the publicity surrounding the case had been humiliating for the offender and his family.

“He’s lost his career,” the judge said.

“Nothing other than a sentence of imprisonment is warranted.”

But Judge McClintock emphasised a sentence of less than two years was appropriate and therefore the offender is suitable to be assessed for an Intensive Correction Order — meaning he may be able to serve his sentence in the community.

Emmett remained on bail and will return to court in July.

He faced a maximum sentence of 10 years for possessing child abuse material and a maximum of five for filming a person’s private parts.

Bride-to-be Stephanie Scott missing, one week before her wedding-Vincent Stanford CHARGED WITH MURDER


 Home video footage of missing bride-to-be Stephanie Scott

MISSING bride-to-be Stephanie Scott did not show up to a Sunday evening dinner she’d arranged with fiance Aaron Leeson-Woolley just hours earlier.

The popular teacher was reported missing on Monday afternoon and fears are growing that she may have crashed her car in a remote location.

The family are talking to police and have called on the community to help with the search through social media, as well as hiring a private helicopter to search from the air.

Mr Leeson-Woolley made an emotional appearance on Channel 7 News, where he said he doesn’t believe his wife-to-be had cold feet.

“I just want her to be here so we can get on with the stuff we need to do,” he said. “I don’t know where to go from here, where to search or anything.”

Ms Scott had spent Saturday in their home town of Leeton buying cufflinks for the wedding, shopping and talking to her sister Robyn about the big day, which had been scheduled for this Saturday.

The engaged couple spent that evening apart, with Mr Leeson-Woolley staying the night at his parent’s home in Canowindra, three half hours drive away.

Stephanie Scott, with her mother. Picture: Facebook

Stephanie Scott, with her mother. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook

Stephanie Scott has gone missing a week before her wedding.

Stephanie Scott has gone missing a week before her wedding. Source: News Corp Australia

The couple texted each other back and forth at about 10am on Sunday to arrange a dinner that evening at Goodfella’s Restaurant.

After that, Ms Scott went to the school where she worked, Leeton High, where she was seen leaving some work for the teacher who would replace her before sending an email to the bus company hired for the wedding just before 1pm.

“There is no way she had cold feet. Something has happened to her”

After travelling back home Mr Leeson-Woolley didn’t see his fiancee all afternoon before she failed to show up for the dinner, booked for 8pm.

Stephanie (right), pictured at a wedding. Picture: Facebook

Stephanie (right), pictured at a wedding. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook

Facebook image of Ms Scott,and husband-to-be Aaron Woolley.

Facebook image of Ms Scott, and husband-to-be Aaron Woolley. Source: Facebook

“He was a bit worried but thought she might have gone to a friends or something,” Stephanie’s sister Robyn said. “He tried her phone a few times as well.’’

By Monday morning when he still hadn’t heard from her, Mr Leeson-Woolley contacted Stephanie’s mother and sisters, thinking she may have contacted them, then reported her missing to Leeton police.

The couple were due to marry this Saturday, with 100 guests invited to a former golf club at Eugowa in the states south west.

Her mother Merrilyn, who last spoke with her daughter on Friday, told The Daily Telegraph Stephanie was looking forward to the big day.

“She was talking about the wedding and was making little craft things for the reception,” she said.

SERIAL COP ABUSER SMILES AS HE WALKS AWAY WITH $1000 FINE

“There is no way she had cold feet. Something has happened to her.”

“Your mind keeps thinking of the worst. I cant eat or sleep. You hope maybe she has had an accident and can’t reach her phone.’’

Stephanie Scott was last seen at Leeton High School where she teaches English and drama.

Stephanie Scott was last seen at Leeton High School where she teaches English and drama. Source: Supplied

Mr Leeson-Woolley told Fairfax Regional Media this week that the disappearance was “really out of character.”

“We’re really worried. (Someone) said they saw her at Woolworths around 1pm on Sunday, but no one has seen or heard anything since.

“We just want her to be okay,” he said.

Police said Ms Scott, who teaches English and drama, may be travelling in a red Mazda 3 sedan with registration BZ-19-CD.

“It was her sister Kim’s birthday on Monday and Stephanie didn’t make contact and that is not her.

Ms Scott may be travelling in a red Mazda 3 sedan. Picture supplied by NSW Police

Ms Scott may be travelling in a red Mazda 3 sedan. Picture supplied by NSW Police Source: Supplied

Leeton High School, where Ms Scott works.

Leeton High School, where Ms Scott works. Source: Supplied

She has two sisters and two brothers and they are always in contact.’’

The community have responded to a call put out on facebook by another of Stephanie’s sisters Kim Scott, who asked for help with the search

“Please anyone available or who can make themselves available,” she wrote on Wednesday.

“Get yourselves to Leeton and the surrounding areas and check those roads.”

The post has already drawn nearly 200 shares, with people driving hundreds of kilometres to help with the search.

“I’ve driven between Wagga and Leeton (about 126km), stopping to drive down some random roads,” Missy Dempsey wrote, “A lot of them you need a 4WD though. I’m going to head back and search around Narrandera.”

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Griffith Police on 6969 4310.

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