Police smash tax fraud Syndicate-ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston embroiled in $165m fraud investigation

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18/05/2017

More to follow with news a senior journo Steve Barrett being allegedly involved with a blackmail plot with a member of the conspiracy Daniel Rostankovski  who was allegedly aggrieved he was not getting his fair share…See down for more details

ATO deputy allegedly sought to seek a deal for son in $165 m tax fraud,,, Mr Cranston has been issued a future court attendance notice for the charge of abusing his position as a public official. He is due to appear in Sydney’s Central Local Court on June 13.

His son, Adam Cranston, 30, and his daughter, Lauren Anne Cranston, 24, have also been charged following an eight-month investigation, codenamed Operation Elbrus.

It’s alleged ATO deputy Michael Cranston accessed restricted information on an ATO audit for his son, but police do not believe he knew about his son’s alleged fraud syndicate.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close said the syndicate appeared to use the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle”.

Among the items seized under proceeds of crime were 25 motor vehicles, including luxury cars and racing cars, 12 motorbikes, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million from a safe deposit box, firearms, jewellery, bottles of Grange wine and artworks.

ATO Second Commissioner Andrew Mills said two other ATO officers were also being investigated internally for a potential code of conduct breaches. It’s believed they tried to look up information on the ATO’s audit at the behest of Michael Cranston….Robbo

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Police will allege the group had a lavish lifestyle and diverted taxpayer funds to buy planes, sports cars, jewellery, property, artwork and fine wines.

As part of the operation, officers have seized:

  • 25 motor vehicles
  • $15 million in bank accounts
  • 18 residential properties
  • 12 motorbikes
  • Two aircraft
  • Firearms
  • Jewellery
  • Artwork
  • Vintage wines
  • $1 million in a safe deposit box

Acting AFP deputy operations commissioner Leanne Close said the ATO got involved in the investigation when alleged evidence of fraud mounted.

 


Veteran Sydney journalist Steve Barrett allegedly blackmailed tax syndicate

By Rachel Olding

A veteran Sydney journalist allegedly blackmailed members of a $165 million tax fraud syndicate after conspirators in the group had a falling out, it can be revealed.

Explosive documents tendered in Central Local Court on Thursday state that well-known television journalist and former crime reporter Steve Barrett allegedly blackmailed two members of the syndicate during a meeting at the offices of Clamenz Lawyers on February 1st 2017

Eight people were arrested on Thursday over the alleged tax fraud syndicate including Adam and Laura Cranston, the son and daughter of Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston.

Michael Cranston has also been issued a future court attendance notice for a charge of abusing his position as a public official.

The police documents reveal that one syndicate member, Daniel Rostankovski, turned on other conspirators and allegedly tried to extort money from them.

At the February 1 meeting, Mr Rostankovski and Mr Barrett allegedly threatened to expose the conspiracy in the media if money wasn’t handed over.

“Police allege … Rostankovski and Barrett attempted to blackmail the co-conspirators in relation to their involvement in the conspiracy,” the police documents state.

Mr Rostankovski allegedly demanded $5 million or Mr Barrett would expose the group in the media.

Mr Rostankovski felt like he had been deceived by the group as other members were receiving more money than him.

The group allegedly agreed to their demands if he didn’t go to the media, the police or the ATO. An agreement was signed that outlined such undertakings, the police documents reveal.

Mr Rostankovski, a 28-year-old from Waterloo, was granted strict bail in Central Local Court on Thursday. Mr Barrett has not been charged. He did not return Fairfax Media’s calls on Thursday.

Barrett, who previously worked for 60 Minutes, was a long-time employee as a producer in the Channel 7 newsroom but left the network in March 2016, before the alleged blackmail took place.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close said the syndicate appeared to use the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle”.

Among the items seized under proceeds of crime were 25 motor vehicles, including luxury cars and racing cars, 12 motorbikes, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million from a safe deposit box, firearms, jewellery, bottles of Grange wine and artworks.

ATO Second Commissioner Andrew Mills said two other ATO officers were also being investigated internally for potential code of conduct breaches. It’s believed they tried to look up information on the ATO’s audit at the behest of Michael Cranston.

The announcement came after nearly 300 police officers on Wednesday carried out raids across Sydney, Wollongong and the Southern Highlands, arresting nine people.

Among those who appeared in court on Thursday are Mr Rostankovski, 28, from Waterloo; Jason Cornell Onley, 47, from Vaucluse; Daniel Hausman, 47, from Woollahra; Christopher James Guillan, 46, from Sutherland; Dev Menon, 33, from Wahroonga and Devyn Hammon, 24, from Balgownie.

Police will allege in court that the syndicate members ran a legitimate payroll company, Plutus Payroll, and accepted money from legitimate clients to process payroll on their behalf.

“This money was transferred to seven sub-contracted companies known as Tier 2 companies, which then made payroll payments to individual workers or clients,” the federal police said in a statement.

Tax office investigators, who helped the federal police during the investigation, estimate the amount of tax obligations not paid to the tax office to be $165 million.

Mr Mills described Michael Cranston as one of the organisation’s “long-serving senior officers” who had “quite an illustrious [career] up until this point”.

Mr Mills said he was confident the tax office’s systems had not been compromised nor breached and the accused employees were not able to obtain any information.

“The investigation has so far not revealed any evidence of actual intervention or influence on audit cases, or of money being refunded, or of tax liability being changed,” Mr Mills said.

“The information I have to date shows no compromise of the operations of our administration. Our systems, controls and procedures worked effectively and we have been able to successfully isolate and protect the investigation, working well with the Australian Federal Police over many months to build a picture of what has been happening.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated the federal police for the investigation and “taking the action that they have”.

 

ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston allegedly sought to cut deal for son Adam Cranston

By Nick McKenzie

Deputy ATO commissioner to be charged

Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Tax Office Michael Cranston allegedly sought to pressure colleagues to cut a deal with his son after learning he was the subject of a major tax fraud investigation, sources said.

Mr Cranston learnt of the investigation after his son, Adam Cranston, approached him and told his father that he believed his company was the subject of an ongoing inquiry.

Michael Cranston.Michael Cranston. Photo: Rob Homer

Michael Cranston allegedly subsequently approached a Tax Office assistant commissioner and raised the prospect that his son’s company was being targeted.

 

Michael Cranston allegedly simultaneously sought to downplay his son’s involvement in the alleged criminal scheme.

  • Two high-ranking Tax Office officials who spoke to Michael Cranston about the inquiry into his son have also been stood down, pending further investigation.
  • It is understood that Michael Cranston allegedly inquired as to whether a deal could be struck to resolve any probe.
  • The Tax Office sometimes resolves matters by agreeing to receive a payment from those accused of tax fraud.
  • Michael Cranston also allegedly sought to reach out to investigators involved in the multi-agency investigation but was unable to do so because the Australian Federal Police had warned them that such an approach might be likely.

One of nine people being arrested over a $165 million tax fraud investigation.

One of nine people being arrested over a $165 million tax fraud investigation.  Photo: AAP/Australian Federal Police

Adam Cranston was allegedly involved in the unlawful tax fraud scheme from the middle of 2016.

The scheme, which allowed the accused to make tens of millions of dollars in allegedly illegal profits, was started much earlier by another of the accused.

Police seized $1 million from a safe deposit box during Wednesday's raids.

Police seized $1 million from a safe deposit box during Wednesday’s raids. Photo: Australian Federal Police

Adam Cranston allegedly displayed unexplained wealth, including a collection of prestige cars.

But Michael Cranston is suspected to have been unaware that his son was the subject of the probe until Adam approached him.

Tax tsar’s son charged over alleged scam that netted $165 million

 

It comes after his son Adam was charged over his role in a $165 million tax scam.

The Daily Telegraph today revealed Cranston’s son, Adam was charged over his alleged role in a fraud syndicate that police claim stole more than $165 million — one of the biggest white-collar crimes in Australia’s history.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Australian Federal Police yesterday arrested Adam Cranston at his Bondi flat in one of 27 raids on homes and businesses across Sydney.

Adam Cranston, son of ATO boss Michael Cranston, is arrested at his Bondi flat yesterday over his role a $165 million fraud syndicate. Picture: Police Media

Cranston was charged last night with conspiracy to ­defraud the commonwealth and is expected to face Central Local Court today.

It’s understood eight others were arrested and facing possible charges.

The 30-year-old Cranston is the son of ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston, but there is no suggestion Michael Cranston had any involvement in or ­knowledge of the criminal syndicate.

Adam Cranston on his wedding day to wife Elizabeth. There is no suggestion Elizabeth was involved in the alleged scam. Picture: Facebook

Sources close to the investigation claim Adam was a “co-conspirator” in a group that used an elaborate tax scam to fund a celebrity lifestyle that included prime Sydney real estate, boats — and even a racing car team.

“This investigation has ­uncovered high-level organised activity; it is complex (and) sophisticated,” the source last night told The Daily Telegraph.

Adam Cranston marries wife Elizabeth. There is no suggestion Elizabeth was involved in the alleged scam.

“I think it will take the police a long time to figure out exactly how much money (is involved).”

It is believed police will ­allege the fraud is one of the largest ever seen in Australia.

Investigators allege Sydney financial services firm SYNEP, of which Adam is co-chairman and managing ­director, was part of the ­operation.

ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston
Adam Cranston is escorted from the scene at Bondi yesterday. Picture: Police Media.

Payroll contractor Plutus Payroll, controlled by SYNEP, was the centrepiece of the ­alleged hustle.

Police will claim it would allegedly funnel wage payments through a series of “second tier” companies. who then paid the ATO only a fraction of the required income tax.

The remaining withheld tax would then allegedly flow into the pockets of syndicate operators.

The scammers believed they had struck a sweet spot where each individual fraud was too small to prompt ­action from the ATO.

One source said it was “like saying to your schoolteacher, ‘I’ve done most of my homework, I’ll bring the rest next week’.”

The net tightened when both the AFP and ATO ­noticed alleged discrepancies in parallel investigations.

Police escort Adam Cranston from the scene yesterday. Picture: Police Media

The sum of the frauds is understood to be more than $165 million, with the extent of Cranston’s own alleged profits expected to be revealed in court.

Investigators said their probe focused on a 12-month snapshot of the group’s alleged activities.

Sources also allege the scheme had another sinister angle.

How the scam was carried out

Police will claim the syndicate would pay struggling people a regular fee so they could set up the second tier companies in their names. However, the syndicate had total control of the companies.

Plutus Payroll hit the headlines earlier this month when the ATO froze its bank ­accounts over unpaid tax debts, meaning its clients’ staff could not be paid.

Police examine a vehicle at Adam Cranston’s Bondi flat yesterday. Picture: Police Media

In a statement earlier this month, Plutus apologised to its customers “continuing ­distress caused by our inability to process your pay since 27 April”.

“Our dispute is with the Australian Taxation Office who believe that Plutus owes the ATO money,” the statement said.

“Acting in a draconian and unfair manner, the ATO froze Plutus’ bank accounts on 27 April without prior warning or any consultation.

“We received no notice of intention to audit, no complaint and no other advance warning of noncompliance from the ATO.

 

“When the ATO acted, without notice, they froze our bank accounts and we became unable to pay our contractors the money owed to them.”

On May 10, the company announced the ATO had ­allowed the release of the money.

With more than 35 years at ATO, Michael Cranston has spearheaded many public campaigns to catch tax cheats.

“I am responsible for ­increasing compliance and willing participation in our tax and super system,” one of his social media accounts states.

“I recently chaired the OECD Task Force on Tax Crimes.”

The ATO last night ­refused to comment on the­ ­investigation.

And Michael Cranston did not respond to questions put to him through the ATO.

The ATO said it “will not comment on ongoing investigations at this time”.

“Due to privacy considerations the ATO is unable to comment on individual ­employees,” it said.

A CASE OF LIVE FAST AND FRY YOUNG

POLICE claim assets linked to an alleged $165 million tax fraud case include sports cars, expensive properties, boats and even a race team.

Cars were a particular passion for one of the alleged “co-conspirators” of the crime. Adam Cranston loved them so much there’s even a wedding day photo of the now 30-year-old with his wife and a slick race car.

There is no suggestion Cranston’s wife had any knowledge of or involvement in the alleged fraud.

A source said that among the property seized by police is an orange and blue Ford GT in Cranston’s ­possession.

Cranston started a race car team last year. And he named it after the ­financial services firm now at the centre of the alleged crime, SYNEP. The team competed in the Australian Prototype Series and in February celebrated a podium finish at Mount Panorama.


ATO official Michael Cranston facing charges over son’s alleged 65m fraud – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

ATO official Michael Cranston facing charges over son’s alleged $165m fraud

18/03/17 Updated 8 minutes ago

One of Australia’s most senior tax officials has been embroiled in a major fraud investigation following the arrest of his son, which allegedly involved $165 million being stolen from the Commonwealth.

Deputy tax commissioner Michael Cranston has been issued with a court attendance notice, while his son, Adam Cranston, was arrested in Sydney yesterday as part of an Australian Federal Police sting.

Michael Cranston will be charged with abusing his position as a public official relating to the fraud, although he is not believed to be a conspirator.

Adam Cranston, 30, was arrested at his flat in the affluent beach suburb of Bondi during raids yesterday and has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth.

At a press conference in Sydney today, officials said Michael Cranston could have been unwittingly involved in his son’s alleged crimes.

In all, nine people were arrested in Sydney yesterday as the AFP carried out 28 raids.

At a press conference today, the AFP alleged the group used “lavish lifestyles” to help hide the funds, including 25 motor vehicles, $15 million in cash, 18 residential properties and two aircraft.

Adam Cranston will face Central Local Court in Sydney later today.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said the arrests served as a warning.

“This is a major government crackdown and what the events today with this major fraud bust … demonstrates is that if you are a crook and you are seeking to defraud the taxpayer, we will find you,” he said.

“We will track you down. We will make sure you are brought to justice.”

The ABC understands Michael Cranston has been employed by the ATO for more than three decades and is involved in the organisation’s private groups and high wealth segment.

Part of his biography on his LinkedIn account reads: “My personal philosophy is that the tax system belongs to all Australians and we all need to work closely together to ensure that it is administered fairly, efficiently and causes the least pain for all that participate.”

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The ICAC is investigating corruption allegations concerning Emman Sharobeem for rorting hundreds of thousands of dollars on herself

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The ICAC is investigating corruption allegations concerning Emman Sharobeem, the former CEO of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service(IWHS) and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (NESH).

The allegations include that Ms Sharobeem dishonestly exercised her official functions as IWHS CEO by: between 1 July 2009 and 17 February 2016, submitting invoices for reimbursement for goods and services to which she was not entitled and using an IWHS credit card to pay for personal expenses; between 2014 and 2015 submitting, and authorising payment by IWHS of, false invoices for facilitation fees and other services to herself and other persons to which they were not entitled; between 2011 and 2015, submitting, and authorising payment of, invoices by the IWHS for the renovation of her property in Fairfield; and between 2012 and 2014, falsifying IWHS statistics to NSW Health.

Ms Sharobeem is also alleged to have dishonestly exercised her official functions between 2006 and 2016 by claiming to be a psychologist holding two PhD degrees and a masters degree, and further using those qualifications to treat IWHS clients and gain promotion to the position of CEO of the IWHS and the NESH. As NESH CEO, Ms Sharobeem is alleged to have dishonestly exercised her official functions between 17 December 2013 and 23 November 2015 by authorising payments from NESH to be made to her own account, to which she was not entitled.

Between March 2011 and November 2016, Ms Sharobeem is also alleged to have fraudulently obtained and retained appointment as a Board member of the Community Relations Commission (now Multicultural NSW) and the Anti-Discrimination Board (now part of the Department of Justice) by using false academic qualifications.

The IWHS was a not-for-profit non-government organisation (NGO) women’s health service, primarily funded by NSW Health via South West Sydney Local Health District, while the NESH  was a not-for-profit NGO contracted and funded by the Department of Family and Community Services to provide affordable housing to women and children. In her capacity as CEO, Ms Sharobeem was a public official for the purposes of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988.

What so obvious (Did you see her on the news grabs last night going into ICAC)

Looked a different woman. Facelifts, liposuction, new teeth, body shaping, tens of thousands on designer handbags etc.

Can we see where this is going? She thought she was as entitled as some of the biggest over the top diva women in the poor countries who DESERVE all this material bullshit way pretending to stand up the poor and vulnerable women.

How disgusted must they be when to let’s say they asked her for help with a bill or their hair falling out from stress.

IT was a BIG NO.

While she got new teeth, got lipo, got skinny, wore the best, dined and the best. Even sold the property of the agency and kept around $600,000 profit to herself.

Flew all over the world, wearing clothes way beyond her means. I just want to be sick at the gall of this bitch. Regards Robbo

‘Why are you torturing me?’ Eman Sharobeem lashes out over ICAC psychology claim

Michael Evans

  • Michael Evans

Former Australian of the Year finalist Eman Sharobeem has lashed out at a public inquiry into claims she illegally practiced as a psychologist, saying she was being “tortured”.

Under heavy questioning from counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Ramesh Rajalingam, about client booking lists for the Immigrant Women’s Health Service, Ms Sharobeem insisted she did not treat anyone.

She was shown video of an appearance on SBS television program Insight and played audio from two ABC Radio National programs in which she claimed to be a psychologist. 

The commission has also been shown patient referrals from doctors and religious figures who sent people to her for treatment.

“You told people you were a psychologist?”

“No.”

“Do you accept a lot of people knew you as a psychologist?”

“How can I treat them if I’m not a psychologist? When I say in the media I’m a psychologist that’s shorthand for the honorary doctorate I received,” Ms Sharobeem said.

 

 

“Why are you torturing me to that extent? Sir, I did not treat anyone.”

Ms. Sharobeem also lashed out over questions concerning the execution of a search warrant at her home.

“I was invaded. You took everything I had,” she said.

The ICAC has alleged that Ms. Sharobeem holds no qualifications to practice as a psychologist despite her claims to hold a Ph.D. in psychology.

Ms. Sharobeem has given evidence she was given an honorary doctorate by the American University in Cairo but that evidence of it was burnt in a fire during the Arab Spring of 2012. 

She has denied she ever practiced as a psychologist. She has accepted she never completed psychology studies.

Ms. Sharobeem later apologized for her outburst, saying: “My apology for being heated.”


 

Cassandra Sainsbury: Accused cocaine smuggler

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So many questions on this one folks. I waited and hung back a few days to see what else was revealed to the public. Shame the way is being trickled out…

Not to sell papers or anything surely?

I personally feel she has been busted red handed and used a well-drilled script when caught.

Shame the family in OZ was NOT aware of it and spilled their guts as a family would do. Not smart though…Cheers Robbo

Please Make comment


ACCUSED Australian drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury posted a series of cryptic social media comments in the lead-up to her ill-fated world trip, which culminated in her arrest at Colombia’s biggest airport last month.

It has already been reported that the 22-year-old Adelaide woman made a series of international

trips to and from Australia in the six months preceding her journey to South America, where authorities allegedly found almost 6kg of cocaine inside her suitcase on April 11.

But early this year an opportunity apparently arose that seemed too good for the former personal trainer to pass up.

In a strangely prophetic Instagram post, Ms Sainsbury appears to have been counting down the days until a life-changing event.

The now deleted January 10 post read: “50 days until I make the biggest move I’ve yet to do … 50 days until everything changes.”

She added the following hashtags: #newbeginnings #newyearnewme #2k17 #dreamjob #bondiliving #life #change #love #50daysleft #goodthingsarecoming.

On January 24, she wrote another post, which has also since been deleted, which read: “Moving interstate driving me cray cray! #save me! Not long before the big move now, super excited and can’t wait to leave so much baggage behind.”

Cassie Sainsbury pictured following her arrest at El Dorado International Airport on April 11. Picture: Supplied Source:AFP

Cassandra Sainsbury Instagram images. cassieleigh_p_t Source:Instagram

 

It is not clear when Ms Sainsbury departed from Australia or from which port but both Instagram posts contain hashtags indicating travel or relocation to Sydney, possibly around March 1 (when the 50 day count down ended).

Her social media trail places her in China later that month and in the US in early April.

On April 3, Ms Sainsbury instagrammed from Los Angeles airport, complaining about the temperature contrast between the two countries: “LAX — so busy yet, so organised. On another note. Going from China’s lovely 27 degree weather to LA’s 7 degree weather is killing me!”

She appears to have caught a connecting flight to Bogota from LA because authorities record her as having arrived in Colombia on the same day — April 3.

On April 8, she posted a photograph from Bogota along with the comment: “Can’t complain about an all expenses paid work trip, in which (sic) is mainly holiday very little work. It’s the simple things that are the true beauty in the world. Mother Nature has been putting on quite the show for me over here.”

This Jan 24 post mentions a move interstate.Source: Supplied

Cassie’s cryptic but prophetic January 10 Instagram post.Source: Supplied

 

Ms Sainsbury’s family has claimed she was on a working holiday to promote her personal training business — a claim which appears to be supported by Ms Sainsbury’s Instagram posts which are riddled with fitness-related hashtags.

But her fiance Scotty Broadbridge has told a completely different story, claiming she hadn’t done any personal training work for months and that her most recent job involved “helping to manage” a cleaning company.

“Although Cassie is a PT, she is not currently personal training and hasn’t been for 6 months. I don’t know why that was mentioned at all,” Mr Broadbridge wrote on Ms Sainsbury’s fundraising page before it was deactivated on Monday night after raising more than $4000.

“She helped manage a commercial cleaning business that had both national and international clients. Unfortunately it’s very easy for tourists to get targeted, especially in Colombia.”

Ms Sainsbury’s April 3 post from LAX.Source: Supplied

 

Ms Sainsbury’s April 3 post from LAX.Source:Supplied

 

Mr Broadbridge’s sister Jasmin also defended Ms Sainsbury on social media.

“We’re all supposed to unite in times like this but I’ve been reading the most hateful and negative comments that people have been writing about someone who is a total stranger to them,” she wrote on Facebook.

“You can assume what you want, but Cassie is a beautiful and strong person and everyone who knows her, even just a little bit, knows that there is absolutely no way she is guilty.”

Ms Sainsbury was moments from arriving at Gate 32 at Colombia’s El Dorado International Airport when narcotics police swooped on a tip-off from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Her luggage tags show she had successfully checked in to board Flight AV120 from Bogota to London’s Heathrow Airport, flying with Avianca Airways, Colombia’s national airline since 1919.

Cassie Sainsbury, 22, and her fiancee Scotty Broadbridge. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook

 

Police allegedly found 5.8kg of cocaine wrapped in black plastic and stuffed into 15 boxes of headphones that she claimed to have bought on the cheap from a man she befriended who had been acting as her translator in the Colombian capital.

Ms Sainsbury told her mother Lisa Evans that she packed the headphones into her suitcase without checking them and had no knowledge of the hidden contraband.

“I can’t believe this has happened to an innocent young woman,” her grandmother Barbara Johns said.

“Anyone who knows Cassie, knows she did not do this. It can happen to anyone.”

Ms Sainsbury is currently awaiting trial in Bogota’s most notorious women’s prison, El Buen Pastor (which means “The Good Shepherd”), on drug trafficking charges and faces up to 25 years if convicted.

However that sentence is likely to be reduced to six years if she pleads guilty and four years if she agrees to identify others involved. The latter option puts Ms Sainsbury between a rock and a hard place, given that spilling the beans on alleged drug syndicate members could see her labelled a snitch, thereby endangering her life inside jail.

Accused drug mule’s fiance and lawyer address the media

Cassie Sainsbury’s fiance Scott Boradbridge says he will support the accused Adelaide drug mule

THE fiance of accused Adelaide drug mule Cassie Sainsbury has told a packed media conference he believes she is innocent and had no involvement with the drug trade.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Scott Broadbridge said he had “no doubt that Cassie is innocent of these charges and I will support her no matter how long this takes”.

But her Adelaide lawyer, Steven Kenny, who was hired by Ms Sainsbury in a phone call, said her court date could be two to three years away if her case went to trial.

“It won’t be speedy, that’s the advice I’ve had from Colombia,” he said.

Mr Broadbridge, who kept his head down as he read from a prepared statement, said he and “Cass” were engaged and he intended to marry her.

“I know that there are many unanswered questions in this case and I intend to work with the lawyers to get to the bottom of them,” he said.

Calling her “the delight of his life” he said he knew she was not a drug smuggler.

“I know that she is not involved in the drug trade, I know that she was not deliberately taking drugs or carrying drugs anywhere,” he said.

Mr Kenny, who defended former detainee David Hicks and was the first lawyer to visit Guantánamo Bay, said he had great faith in the Colombian legal system, which carried the presumption of innocence, and he asked the media to not prejudge his new client’s guilt or innocence.

“I would like to think Cassie’s defence will be run in a court in Colombia, not in the Adelaide media,” he said.

Scott Broadbridge, fiance of Cassie Sainsbury, with Adelaide lawyer Steven Kenny. Picture: Greg Higgs

Mr Broadbridge said he hoped to fly to Colombia to visit her soon, and to prove her innocence.

Mr Kenny could not answer questions about which cleaning company Ms Sainsbury worked for, who bought her ticket out of Colombia in Hong Kong or how long she had been travelling, and said detailed questions such as this would be followed up through her Colombian legal team.

He said the first thing he could do from Adelaide was to make sure she had good defence in Colombia. Mr Kenny accepted the job pro bono because he had legal friends in Colombia and felt he could help.

“We are working with them and taking what we think are appropriate steps,” he said.

The aspiring model and fitness trainer was arrested at an airport in Colombia with 5.8kg of cocaine in her luggage. Despite the evidence against her, Mr Broadbridge said he loved her and believed in her and was doing everything to try to get her out.

Ingrid Hernandes, Bogota hotel manager discusses Cassandra Sainsbury stay

Ms Sainsbury, 22, is being held in Bogota’s El Buen Pastor women’s jail after she was busted with the cocaine — which was hidden inside packages of headphones — in her luggage as she was about to fly out of Colombia.

Mr Broadbridge said that despite the collapse of her gym, personal trainer Ms Sainsbury was debt-free when she jetted overseas on the ill-fated trip.

“There absolutely were no debts. She ran a business and it didn’t work out. She’s just an ordinary girl with aspirations,” he said.

“I’m just scared for her and don’t want to jeopardise anything as it’s early stages. We’re worried for her future, she’s not doing great.”

But his decision to “break his silence” drew criticism from members of Ms Sainsbury’s family, who have been told not to comment by her Colombian lawyer. Mr Kenny said some of the reporting in the media could damage Ms Sainsbury’s case and that he and Mr Broadbridge were having discussions with Ms Sainbury’s family.

Mr Kenny said he was asked by Ms Sainsbury in a brief phone call to act for her and he had no argument with Sydney lawyer, Jay Williams, who had until now been her only Australian lawyer.

“Jay is a barrister, he’s not a solicitor, and he is not in Adelaide which I think is why Scott came to see me,” he said.

Asked about her state of mind, he said it was a short call but that Ms Sainsbury was “a young woman in a foreign jail, in a foreign country, you can draw your own conclusions from that.”

She was being visited regularly by Australian consular officials who were reporting back to the family on her welfare.

Cassie Sainsbury with the 5.8kg of cocaine she is accused of smuggling out of Columbia. Photo: Columbia Antinarcotics Police.

Sister Khala Sainsbury said the truth would come out soon.

“It has gone too far,” she said of rumours coming out of Yorketown, on Yorke Peninsula.

The allegations first emerged when a woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Advertiser Ms Sainsbury left the Yorke Peninsula owing several people money.

Others have backed the claims.

But the landlord of the Yorketown gym previously used by Ms Sainsbury, and the father of her ex-boyfriend, say she had no debts with them.

On Thursday, Nick Paphitis said Ms Sainsbury had paid all her rent before she moved to Adelaide.

Claims she owed ex-boyfriend Luke Tape money borrowed to help set up Yorke’s Gym were rejected by his father, Richard.

Cassie Sainsbury: What we know so far

 

It comes as her Bogota lawyer Orlando Herran said Australian diplomats were trying to convince Colombian authorities to let Ms Sainsbury serve her almost certain jail sentence at home.

She is being advised to accept the charges against her in order to reduce her sentence after she was caught with the drugs.

Mr Herran said diplomats were working on a deal that would see her move from El Buen Pastor women’s jail to one in Australia, but only after a conviction was recorded.

Ms Sainsbury posted a series of cryptic social media comments in the lead-up to her ill-fated world trip, which culminated in her arrest at Colombia’s biggest airport last month.

It has already been reported that the Adelaide woman made a series of international trips to and from Australia in the six months preceding her journey to South America.

But early this year, an opportunity apparently arose that seemed too good for the former personal trainer to pass up.

Cassandra Sainsbury with her fiance Scott Broadbridge. Picture: Facebook

In a strangely prophetic Instagram post, Ms Sainsbury appears to have been counting down the days until a life-changing event.

The now deleted January 10 post read: “50 days until I make the biggest move I’ve yet to do … 50 days until everything changes.”

She added the following hashtags: #newbeginnings #newyearnewme #2k17 #dreamjob #bondiliving #life #change #love #50daysleft #goodthingsarecoming.

On January 24, she wrote another post, which has also since been deleted, which read: “Moving interstate driving me cray cray! #save me! Not long before the big move now, super excited and can’t wait to leave so much baggage behind.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Australian consular staff were continuing to provide assistance to Ms Sainsbury, but did not have an embassy in Bogota and the assistance was being organised “from outside Colombia”.

update

How Cassandra Sainsbury’s ticket reportedly got her caught

Cassandra Sainsbury’s father wants his daughter to come home
Charis Chang and Sarah Blake in Bogota

THE father of accused Aussie drug smuggler Cassandra Sainsbury has broken his silence, three weeks after his daughter landed in a Colombian prison.

 

Stuart Sainsbury told Nine News he is standing by the 22-year-old because “a father’s love is unconditional and never stops, regardless of what happens”.

He said he does not believe she is “a drug mule”.

“I don’t believe she was a drug mule, she’s just my kid. What parent thinks their kid is a drug mule? I just love her and I can’t change what’s happened. I just have to be here when she comes home.”

Earlier, he told reporters “I don’t want to be tied up in all this,” the Mail Online reported.

“Listen, whatever is going on has nothing to do with me, and I have nothing to say about it,” he said from his home in Yorketown, South Australia.

“You can ring my lawyer if you don’t understand me. It’s got nothing to do with me.”

He told the Adelaide Advertiser that his “love doesn’t change no matter what (your children) do” and said no Australian officials had been in touch with him.

The comments follow revelations that Cassie was caught because the US Drug Enforcement Agency alerted Colombian authorities to their suspicions about her plane ticket, reports suggest.

Ms Sainsbury, 22, was arrested at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota on April 12 after a tip-off about the 5.8kg of cocaine allegedly hidden inside what she thought were 18 boxes of headphones in her suitcase.

The South Australian is now being held in a women’s jail in Colombia and is reportedly struggling to adjust to her new life inside prison.

An American woman who walked free from El Buen Pastor prison on Tuesday after serving a 17 month sentence, told Newscorp she had helped support Cassie, along with another woman inside the jail.

“Because she is so young there are a lot of people trying to take advantage of her,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named.

Stuart Sainsbury, the father of accused Aussie drug smuggler, Cassandra. Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

“Not only that, when she was at the police station they took most of her stuff — all of her clothes, her money.”

The woman said Cassie was receiving some support from Australian consular staff but was told she would only receive a visit every few months.

“She’s just wearing a sweater and pants and a top, the same ones. I offered her something but she said no thank you.”

Meanwhile it has emerged that Ms Sainsbury may have been arrested after a tip-off from US authorities.

“We found her because of an alert from the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency),” Bogota airport’s narcotics chief, Commander Rodrigo Soler, told News Corp Australia Network.

He said she had cleared security, checked her bag and was minutes away from boarding her flight when the alert came up.

“The alert said check this person so we pulled her aside and we searched her luggage and we arrested her. We asked ‘is this your bag, did you pack this?’. She said ‘yes’.”

Soler told The Australian Ms Sainsbury’s ticket, which was bought at the last minute by an unknown party in Hong Kong for a trip from Australia to Bogota via London, was one of several red flags that caused North American agencies to alert Colombian police.

The Adelaide woman’s family insists she is innocent and was set up by a Colombian man she met after arriving in the South American country on April 3 during a working holiday.

They say she bought the headphones from him to give as gifts to family and friends at her upcoming wedding.

A photo released by Colombia's National Police press shows Australian Cassandra Sainsbury in handcuffs after she was arrested at the international airport in Bogota, Colombia. Picture: Colombia's National Police via AP

A photo released by Colombia’s National Police press shows Australian Cassandra Sainsbury in handcuffs after she was arrested at the international airport in Bogota, Colombia. Picture: Colombia’s National Police via APSource:AP

An expert on the South American drug trade says there was no way the former fitness trainer would have the connections to sell almost $2 million worth of cocaine, and someone must have been waiting to receive it in Australia.

Rusty Young, wrote the book Marching Powder and is about to release a book Colombiano after living in Colombia for eight years. He said the South Australian woman’s story didn’t add up.

“Her version of events is not consistent with the way drug rings operate,” Mr Young told news.com.au yesterday.

“If you were planting $1 million worth of drugs in someone’s baggage, how were you intending to recover the drugs back in Australia?”

Ms Sainsbury’s sister Khala posted on a fundraising page that the 22-year-old was detained for drug trafficking at the airport in Bogota “waiting to depart back to Australia”. But it’s since been reported that Cassie may have intended to continue on her working holiday to make presentations in London, France and Hong Kong.

Her sister said she was not due back in Australia until Easter Saturday, April 15.

It’s unclear where the drugs were ultimately headed but Mr Young believes if they were being shipped to Australia, someone would have been waiting for them to come in.

“There’s no way a 22-year-old could have the connections to distribute and sell almost 6kg of cocaine,” he said.

“There must have been someone in Australia to receive those drugs.”

Mr Young also dismissed fears that Ms Sainsbury could be targeted by cartels while imprisoned in Colombia.

“That’s absolute nonsense,” he said. “Cartels don’t run drug mules through airports, they run tonnes of cocaine. There’s no professional Colombian organisation behind this.”

Despite concerns about Ms Sainsbury’s safety, Mr Young said he thought she would be physically safe in the overcrowded El Buen Pastor women’s jail.

“They would have put her in the foreign section with foreign inmates,” he said.

Australian diplomatic staff have also reportedly delivered her a mattress and blanket to use in her cell.

Mr Young said he also thought Ms Sainsbury would get a fair trial in Colombia, although justice would be slow.

Even if she plead guilty, Mr Young said it would probably still take six to nine months for her to go through the justice system. A trial would probably take three years just to reach a verdict and would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Mr Young said his thoughts were with Ms Sainsbury and her family.

“They are in for a long and difficult journey,” he said.

A handout photo made available by the press office of the Colombian Anti-narcotics Police, on 01 May 2017 shows Australian citizen Cassandra Sainsbury during her detention with 5.8 kilos of cocaine at the International Airport the Dorado, in Bogota, Colombia, on 11 April 2017. Picture: EPA/Col Anti-narcotics Police

A handout photo made available by the press office of the Colombian Anti-narcotics Police, on 01 May 2017 shows Australian citizen Cassandra Sainsbury during her detention with 5.8 kilos of cocaine at the International Airport the Dorado, in Bogota, Colombia, on 11 April 2017. Picture: EPA/Col Anti-narcotics PoliceSource:AAP

Ms Sainsbury’s family has previously said the 22-year-old travelled to Colombia on April 3 for a working holiday. It’s unclear what visa she was travelling on and what job she was doing overseas.

There is no working holiday maker visa arrangement between Australia and Colombia, and working visas require Australians to prove they have a skill set Colombians don’t possess.

“The most common work visa would be for English teachers,” Mr Young said.

But Australians can enter Colombia for 90 days as a visitor without a visa.

It has also emerged that Ms Sainsbury was reportedly arrested following a tip-off from international drug agencies and her travel plans had raised suspicions, anti narco trafficking control, Colonel Rodrigo Soler, told The Australian.

The South Australian was arrested minutes before she was due to fly back to Australia from El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.

Colombian police have released a photo of the young Aussie in handcuffs standing in front of a table lined with 18 packages, which Ms Sainsbury thought were headphones she bought as wedding gifts and presents for her friends and family.

Jorge Mendoza, the ports and airports director for Colombia’s anti-narcotic police, says he doubted Ms Sainsbury didn’t know the drugs were hidden inside the packages.

“She could possibly be a drug mule,” Mendoza told ABC radio through an interpreter on Tuesday.

“In going through security we found she had 18 packets inside her luggage, which even before opening it we found covered in plastic.

“Her explanation is not credible. Everyone we catch says they didn’t know it was in their luggage.”

Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Triana, head of the anti-narcotics police at Bogota’s international airport was also sceptical about the Australian’s innocence.

He said Ms Sainsbury’s claims that she was deceived are probably untrue and in any case don’t excuse her actions.

“Everyone who is caught says exactly the same thing,” said Lt Colonel Triana, who added that many foreigners are lured by false promises of fast fortunes.”

As tourism to Colombia has boomed over the past decade, the country’s drug cartels are increasingly recruiting foreigners to smuggle cocaine out of the country. Police have arrested 19 foreign drug mules this year alone, Lt Colonel Triana said.

The Adelaide woman’s family insists she is innocent and was set up by a Colombian man she met after arriving in the South American country on April 3 during a working holiday.

But public comments made by her family about her case may have unwittingly put the 22-year-old in danger, The Australian has reported.

Senior Australian lawyers familiar with the case told the paper that if the cartels found out what Ms Sainsbury’s mother had been saying, she could be in danger inside the notorious El Buen Pastor jail where she is being held.

El Buen Pastor prison for women in Bogota, Colombia. Source: Roger Triana

El Buen Pastor prison for women in Bogota, Colombia. Source: Roger TrianaSource:Supplied

El Buen Pastor is Bogota’s biggest women’s prison, and inmates live in overcrowded and filthy conditions alongside violent criminals, their children and babies and corrupt guards who steal food brought to prisoners by their families.

On Monday, Ms Sainsbury’s mother Lisa Evans told KIIS that her daughter was facing a potential jail sentence of between 18 to 25 years, but if she pleaded guilty this would be reduced.

She said the minimum sentence was six years but this could be reduced to four if Ms Sainsbury provided information about the man who gave her the drugs.

Ms Evans said Cassie had trusted the man who gave her the drugs, and he had been acting as her translator in Colombia.

“He had been helping her all week, taking her around and showing her places, and just being a nice guy,” Ms Evans said.

It is understood lawyers in Australia have now advised the family not to make any further public comments and to take down an online fundraising campaign on FundRazr.

The campaign has raised more than $4000 for Ms Sainsbury and remains active, although many of the posts express scepticism about Cassie’s story.

Cassandra Sainsbury was arrested on drug charges in Colombia.

Cassandra Sainsbury was arrested on drug charges in Colombia.Source:Instagram

Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine and its police among the best-trained to detect and stop drug smuggling thanks in part to billions of dollars in US anti-narcotics aid that has strengthened law enforcement.

— With AP/AAP


Cassie Sainsbury Faces Up To 25 Years For 5.8kg Cocaine Haul

The Adelaide personal trainer says she was set up by a man she had just met.

01/05/2017 10:22 AM AEST | Updated 01/05/2017 2:30 PM AEST

GoFundMe

An Adelaide based personal trainer and volunteer firefighter is facing up to 25 years in a Colombian prison after 5.8 kilograms of cocaine was found in her suitcase.

Cassandra Sainsbury was arrested for drug trafficking offences at El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá when she went to catch her flight back to Australia following an eight-day working holiday in Colombia on April 11.

But her family say she is “naive” and had been set up by a man she had met who gave her what she believed was a package of headphones.

Sainsbury’s sister, Khala, told the media that a man she met while travelling offered to bulk buy the headphones cheaply for her, which she wanted as gifts for her bridal party at her upcoming wedding to fiance Scott Broadbridge.

Anyone that knows her would say she is a kind, loving, happy kind of girl.”

“Cassie, being young, said she’d do it. And it came to her already packaged and sealed so she put it straight in her suitcase not thinking,” Khala said. “She’s very naive.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to HuffPost Australia that they are assisting an Australian woman arrested in Colombia, but declined to give further details “due to our privacy obligations”.

Colombia is the world’s largest cocaine producer, providing more than half of the world’s illicit supply — 487 tons annually. Profits from the drug amount to around 1 per cent of the nation’s GDP and provide livelihoods for around 65,000 farming families in remote areas, according to UN estimates.

But the Government has cracked down on the drug trade in recent years in an attempt to clean up its image, with heavy penalties for those caught trafficking. The maximum penalty for trafficking cocaine is 25 years.

The Adelaide woman’s mother, Lisa Evans, told KIIS FM that Sainsbury is innocent, but is considering pleading guilty to reduce her sentence.

Facebook
Cassie Sainsbury with her fiance and “love of her life” Scott Broadbridge. The couple were preparing to wed early next year.

“If she pleads guilty the minimum is six years,” Evans said.

“If Cassie gives information about the person that gave her the package it may come down to four.”

Evans reportedly told Channel Nine’s Today Show she could not believe someone could do this to her daughter.

“Cassie is just, ‘I didn’t do it mum, you have got to get me out’ and crying hysterically,” Evans said.

Sainsbury has been denied bail and is currently in the notorious El Buen Pastor women’s prison, where she is sharing a cell with up to 250 women in squalid conditions. She is due to face trial in two months’ time, her family says.

The 22-year-old’s sister has set up a fundraising page to raise money towards Cassie’s legal costs.

“Cassie would never do anything like what she has been accused off,” Khala wrote on the page.

“Anyone that knows her would say she is a kind, loving, happy kind of girl. She would help anyone out in need.”

But the page has drawn criticism from some posters, who accused the family “begging” for money

After four days, the campaign had only raised $2,610 towards its $15,000 goal.


Cassandra Sainsbury: Accused cocaine smuggler ‘would have known drugs were in her bag’

03/05/17

An Australian woman used unsophisticated methods to try to conceal 18 packets of cocaine in her luggage and her family’s claims she was set up are not believable, Colombian drug authorities say.

Key points:

  • Colombian drug police say Australian woman would have known the drugs were in the bag
  • Cocaine in headphones “not really a very sophisticated mode of concealment”
  • Cassandra Sainsbury faces up to 20 years in jail

Adelaide’s Cassandra Sainsbury, 22, was arrested minutes before boarding a flight at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine wrapped in plastics bags and packed within boxes of headphones.

Family of the former personal trainer said she was an unwitting drug mule and the headphones were bought as gifts for bridal party guests.

Colonel Jorge Mendoza, the head of ports and airports for the Colombian drug enforcement police department, dismissed the family’s version of events, saying she would have known the narcotics were in her bags.

“There was not really a very sophisticated mode of concealment,” he said.

“The drugs were wrapped in bags, 18 packets as I said previously, inside her suitcase.

“So, it is difficult to say that she did not know that the substance was inside her suitcase.”

Ms Sainsbury’s sister Khala said the 22-year-old was in Colombia for a working holiday and the headphones were purchased from a contact.

Colonel Mendoza has previously said the arrest came as the result of a tip-off and was indistinguishable from a growing number of drug cases involving foreigners.

Colonel Mendoza has said he was confident the seizure would lead to jail time and depending on the quality of the drugs, the maximum penalty could be 20 years’ imprisonment.

A Colombian lawyer advised the family she plead guilty to reduce the sentence to a possible six years.

Ms Sainsbury’s family has raised thousands of dollars online to fund her legal defence and support her.

Ms Sainsbury has been transferred to the Colombian capital’s notorious El Buen Pastor women’s prison.

Joanna Adams, the daughter of a lawyer who has given legal advice to Ms Sainsbury, has told the ABC’s AM program her father said the Australian “has her up and downs”.

“Some days she’s good and some days she’s very bad,” Ms Adams said.

The 22-year-old was preparing to board a flight to London on her way back to Australia when she was arrested.

AP/ABC


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Ben MCormack ch 9 reporter and pedo buster busted himself

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF_8XKsXTf0

A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack charged over child porn offences

update 9th May 2017

Channel 9 reporter Ben McCormack has bail continued after child pornography charges

Posted 53 minutes ago

A Sydney magistrate has continued bail for suspended Channel 9 reporter Ben McCormack, who was charged with child pornography offences.

McCormack, who worked as a journalist on A Current Affair, is accused of sending child pornography and engaging in sexually explicit conversations about children with an adult male.

His lawyer Sam Macedone told the Downing Centre Local Court his client was not in court because he was still in hospital, having been admitted for treatment after his arrest.

Mr Macedone tendered a medical certificate to the court.

The 42-year-old reporter was under investigation by detectives who say they were tipped off by the Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team.

They stopped him in his car at Moore Park in April, and shortly afterwards they searched a unit in Alexandria and the ACA office in Willoughby where they seized computers, a mobile phone and electronic storage devices.

Nine Network suspended him from his role as a reporter after his arrest.

The Commonwealth prosecutor told the court the charges were indictable offences carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

The case will return to court in July.


  • Andrew Hornery
  • Nick Ralst

A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack has been charged after he allegedly sent child abuse material and engaged in explicit conversations about children with another man online.

McCormack, a long time on-air talent for the Nine Network program, was stopped on Driver Avenue at Moore Park by detectives from the Sex Crimes Squad at 7.30am on Thursday and taken to Redfern police station.

A Current Affair reporter arrested

The 42-year-old had been under investigation by the Sex Crime Squad’s child exploitation internet unit and has now been charged with using a carriage service for child pornography material.

“Police will allege in court the man was engaged in sexually explicit conversations about children with an adult male and discussed child pornography,” NSW Police said in a statement.

A search warrant was executed at McCormack’s home at Alexandria, in the city’s inner-south, and officers also raided the Willoughby office of A Current Affair, at the Nine Network studios in Sydney’s north, on Thursday morning.

Police seized computers, a mobile phone, and electronic storage devices.

McCormack was granted police bail and will appear at the Downing Centre Local Court on May 1.

He has retained the services of high-profile solicitor Sam Macedone, who regularly appears on A Current Affair, where he is often seen commenting on legal matters arising from neighborhood disputes or scam artists

 

The police investigation into McCormack followed a tip-off from the Joint Anti-Child Exploitation team – a joint agency task force that cracks down on crimes against children.

His arrest and charging was part of Strike Force Trawler, a police operation that is using undercover stings to catch alleged online predators.

The strike force has arrested almost one person per week this year, with many more cases passed to local police.

Those arrested have been diverse: from teenagers to 70-year-olds, school teachers, fathers, defense force members, priests, police academy students and aspiring politicians.

McCormack’s arrest was the lead item on Channel Nine’s 3pm news bulletin.

The network reported that he had been questioned but not charged, although charges might be laid on Thursday afternoon.

Nine’s news and current affairs director Darren Wick confirmed to staff that police officers had been at the network’s Willoughby offices “investigating matters relating to a staff member at A Current Affair”.

He stressed that the investigation “does not relate to the program or Nine”. He said the network was co-operating with the police.

“However, we are not in a position to comment any further as this is an ongoing investigation,” he said in a note to staff sent out following the raid.

As a reporter, McCormack had doggedly pursued child sex offenders on ACA over the years.

In 2014, he sat in court as former Hey Dad! television star Robert Hughes learned of his guilty verdict. He also phoned Hughes’ victim Sarah Monahan, who had told her story on A Current Affair, to tell her.

with Georgina Mitchell


A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack at centre of many media controversies

A Current Affair journalist Ben McCormack leaves Redfern police station yesterday. Picture: Adam Yip/The Manly Daily

THE veteran A Current Affair reporter at the centre of explosive child pornography allegations has been a magnet for controversy over his decades with Channel 9.

Police arrested and charged Ben McCormack, 42, yesterday for allegedly having sexually explicit conversations about children with another man, and discussing child pornography.

The scandal has rocked Channel 9, which was raided by police yesterday, but it is not the first time the reporter has made the headlines.

Nine Network reporter Ben McCormack is released from Redfern police station yesterday after being charged with sending child pornography material. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Nine Network reporter Ben McCormack is released from Redfern police station yesterday after being charged with sending child pornography material. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts Source:AAP

Throughout a 25-year career at the network, McCormack has broken major stories — some of which have been controversial and criticised.

He was the first journalist to confront Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes and grill him about child sex abuse allegations.

McCormack tracked Hughes down for ACA in Singapore in 2010 and questioned him about whether he did abuse children, including cast members of the popular Australian sitcom, which ran for eight seasons in the 1980s and ’90s.

Hey Dad! actor Robert Hughes is questioned by A Current Affair in Singapore. Picture: Channel 9

Hey Dad! actor Robert Hughes is questioned by A Current Affair in Singapore. Picture: Channel 9Source: Supplied

“I’m absolutely, totally shocked at the allegations and I deny, absolutely deny, everything,” Hughes told McCormack from his car.

A Current Affair’s reporting on the scandal helped lead to Hughes being sentenced to six years’ jail on 10 charges related to sexually abusing young girls.

While this was a genuine scoop, not all of McCormack’s reporting has been well received.

His bogus report on an “all-Asian mall” was widely condemned as racist and led to the station receiving a deluge of complaints.

Tracy Grimshaw presents Ben McCormack’s ‘All-Asian Mall’ story in 2012. The report turned out to be inaccurate.

Tracy Grimshaw presents Ben McCormack’s ‘All-Asian Mall’ story in 2012. The report turned out to be inaccurate.Source: Supplied

On November 7, 2012, McCormack reported that a shopping centre in Castle Hill, in Sydney’s northwest, had been taken over by Asian retailers and that Australian shopkeepers were being “kicked out”.

The media watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, found that the story was not only inaccurate, it was “likely to provoke intense dislike and serious contempt” of Asian people.

Stand-in ACA host Leila McKinnon was forced to give an on-air apology for the story.

A selfie from Ben McCormack’s Facebook. Picture: Facebook

A selfie from Ben McCormack’s Facebook. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook

A Facebook photo of A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack. Picture: Facebook

A Facebook photo of A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack. Picture: Facebook 

McCormack’s reporting was slammed by public relations queen Roxy Jacenko last year when ACA ran with a story entitled “Resort Roxy”, which claimed she had checked into a $7000-a-night luxury retreat with her two children the same weekend her husband Oliver Curtis was sentenced to two years’ jail for insider trading.

“Just when we thought the soap opera was finally over, the Roxy and Oliver show goes on,” McCormack said in the report.

Ben McCormack on air for A Current Affair. Picture: Channel 9

Ben McCormack on air for A Current Affair. Picture: Channel 9Source: Supplied

“As her insider trader husband awaits classification within the jail system, within hours of his sentence Roxy has taken off. And you won’t believe where.”

So where was Roxy? According to the PR executive, she was hard at work in her office in Sydney.

“Really A Current Affair? … Looks like my bum and feet are firmly placed at my desk in my office. Perhaps stick to people’s fences encroaching on others’ boundaries!” she posted on Instagram.

McCormack’s journalism also made a splash in 2008 when he led a protest of disgruntled game show contestants to ambush David Koch and Melissa Doyle live on air.

ACA aired two segments in March of that year that claimed Channel 7’s short-lived National Bingo Night failed to pay participants on the show because the episodes in which they appeared were not aired.

McCormack and the angry contestants took the fight to Martin Place in Sydney and interrupted a live outside broadcast of Sunrise, yelling “Channel 7 doesn’t pay”.

Sunrise hosts Mel Doyle and David Koch are stunned as Ben McCormack leads a protest claiming that Channel 7 withheld money from contestants on its game show National Bingo Night.

Sunrise hosts Mel Doyle and David Koch are stunned as Ben McCormack leads a protest claiming that Channel 7 withheld money from contestants on its game show National Bingo Night.Source: Supplied

A security guard obstructed McCormack, while Mel and Kochie were rushed back into the studio.

ACA said contestants were duped out of $15,000 cash and a car, but a Seven spokesman dismissed the stunt as an “act of desperation to try and find an audience”.

McCormack also attracted controversy in 2011 for his part in a fierce ratings war with Channel 7 rival Today Tonight for the story behind a viral YouTube video showing a teenager body-slam a bully in an Aussie school ground.

A Current Affair journalist Ben McCormack on air. Picture: Channel 9

A Current Affair journalist Ben McCormack on air. Picture: Channel 9Source: YouTube

While both stations were criticised for opening their chequebooks to get the kids on camera, Media Watch actually praised McCormack’s interview with bullying victim Casey Heynes as “sensitive and moving”.

“It might even have done some good,” host Jonathan Holmes said at the time.

On his Twitter profile, McCormack describes himself as a “reporter, lifesaver, pilot, humanist, twin [and] boy band wrangler”.

When not on air, he is a decorated member of the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club.

An image from Ben McCormack’s Twitter page. Picture: Twitter

An image from Ben McCormack’s Twitter page. Picture: Twitter Source: Supplied

Channel 9 suspended McCormack yesterday in light of the child pornography allegations.

He was bailed yesterday to face a charge of using a carriage service for child pornography in court on May 1.

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Wyndham Vale crash: Akon Guode, charged with 3 counts of murder and 1 count of attempted murder

Featured


UPDATE 16 Jan 2017

 

Blood-splattered walls, family photos and the tiny stain that blew the case wide open: Graphic photos from inside the Lin family home – after Robert Xie was found guilty of five murders 

  • Robert Xie has been found guilty of murdering five of his wife’s relatives
  • His wife, Kathy Lin, has stood by him and proclaimed his innocence
  • But she sobbed as a NSW Supreme Court jury handed down its verdict
  • Xie cut electricity to the Epping home and systematically killed the five
  • Grisly crime scene photos have emerged from the Lin family home

SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND THE FOLLOWING IMAGES DISTURBING

Grisly crime scene photos have emerged from the Lin family home where Robert Xie murdered five of his wife’s relatives.

Fuelled by resentment and humiliation at his ‘inferior’ status in the Lin family, Robert Xie crept into a Sydney house and bludgeoned five of his wife’s relatives to death.

In horrific detail, a court heard how Xie systematically went about murdering his brother-in-law and wife, their two children and her sister under the cover of night.

The first police images from the Lin home in Epping have emerged with walls and door handles splattered with blood, footprints in the carpet and drops of blood throughout the house.

 A mobile phone charger splattered in blood at the Lin family homeA mobile phone charger splattered in blood at the Lin family home

There was blood on the bedroom door handles and the smeared up the door

The crucial blood stain 91: This blood stain was found in Xie's garage ten months after the murders. It contained four of the five victim's DNAThe crucial blood stain 91: This blood stain was found in Xie’s garage ten months after the murders. It contained four of the five victim’s DNA

The carpet from the main bedroom was treated with chemicals, revealing a clear sneaker footprint which prosecutors claimed were consistent with the shoes Xie woreThe carpet from the main bedroom was treated with chemicals, revealing a clear sneaker footprint which prosecutors claimed were consistent with the shoes Xie wore

Horrific splatters of blood on the wall in the children's bedroom. Investigators believe the two children were awake and moving when they were beaten to deathHorrific splatters of blood on the wall in the children’s bedroom. Investigators believe the two children were awake and moving when they were beaten to death

Pictured is a small bed shaped as a racing car in Min and Lily's room. Their son Terry, 9, would sleep there when he had trouble in his own roomPictured is a small bed shaped as a racing car in Min and Lily’s room. Their son Terry, 9, would sleep there when he had trouble in his own room

This silver coloured Bird brand mobile phone was covered in blood and found under the racing car bedThis silver coloured Bird brand mobile phone was covered in blood and found under the racing car bed

Photos have emerged from the grisly crime scene at the Lin family home in EppingPhotos have emerged from the grisly crime scene at the Lin family home in Epping

The graphic images show the violent murders that took place within the bedrooms as the family were bludgeoned to death.

Images show the dark chemicals used to bring out the footprints of sneakers that were consistent with the shoes Xie wore, according to prosecutors.

One blood stain, labelled ‘Stain 91’, became an integral part of the Crown’s case. It contained four of the five victim’s DNA and was found in Xie’s garage ten months later.

Xie had a perverted sexual fascination with a teenager connected to the family, and would rub himself against her while erect, the murder trial also heard, reported the Daily Telegraph.

Pictured is a blood-stained doorknob at the entrance to Irene Lin's room Pictured is a blood-stained doorknob at the entrance to Irene Lin’s room

The Lin family's sandals were scattered at the base of a staircase leading to the second floorThe Lin family’s sandals were scattered at the base of a staircase leading to the second floor

Like every other house: A view inside the living room and study of the Lin family home on the day of the murdersLike every other house: A view inside the living room and study of the Lin family home on the day of the murders

A photo showing the doorway into bedroom one with an arrow pointing two the light switchA photo showing the doorway into bedroom one with an arrow pointing two the light switch

Pictures is a view of Robert Xie's garage. The photo was taken during a police search

A look inside Robert Xie’s garage: The photos were taken during a police search

More than seven years and four trials later, the 53-year-old is facing life behind bars after a NSW Supreme Court jury on Thursday found him guilty of the five murders.

It took the jury eight days of deliberations after a six month trial, marking Xie one of Australia’s worst mass murders in living history.

Just days after the gruesome murders in 2009, Xie and his wife, Kathy Lin, made an emotional public plea for information to help solve the terrible crimes.

They asked that media not show their faces because of concerns for their own safety.

Robert Xie has been found guilty of brutally murdering five of his wife's relatives in 2009. The court heard he harboured a deep hatred over his 'inferior' status in the extended familyRobert Xie has been found guilty of brutally murdering five of his wife’s relatives in 2009. The court heard he harboured a deep hatred over his ‘inferior’ status in the extended family

VICTIMS: Min Lin, 45, and Lily Lin, 43 were killed after being bludgeoned with a 'hammer-like object' by Robert XieVICTIMS: Min Lin, 45, and Lily Lin, 43 were killed after being bludgeoned with a ‘hammer-like object’ by Robert Xie

 A furious struggle took place in the bedroom of his young nephews Terry (left) and Henry (right) – but both were killed by their sinister uncle

Irene was the fifth member of the family to suffer a horrendous fate at Xie's hands, the jury foundIrene was the fifth member of the family to suffer a horrendous fate at Xie’s hands, the jury found

Xie said he couldn’t imagine any reason why anyone would want to harm the family, describing his dead brother-in-law as a ‘very nice, hard-working, friendly person’.

Xie had pleaded not guilty to murdering the five in their North Epping home.

The former ear, nose and throat specialist, who was arrested in May 2011, faced two aborted trials and a third lasting nine months which resulted in a hung jury.

As the majority verdict was handed down, Xie told the court he did not murder the Lin family.

‘I am innocent,’ he told the jury as he left the court.

His wife Kathy began to cry.

Outside of court, Min Lin’s parents wept in relief after the guilty verdict. ‘We are happy,’ they said to reporters, while holding framed photos of their lost loved ones.

LIN FAMILY HOME: This is the home where Robert Xie killed five members of his wife's familyLIN FAMILY HOME: This is the home where Robert Xie killed five members of his wife’s family

LOCKED AWAY: The latest trial of Lian Bin 'Robert' Xie lasted some five months - the verdict ally coming some seven years after the deaths shocked AustraliaLOCKED AWAY: The latest trial of Lian Bin ‘Robert’ Xie lasted some six months – the verdict finally coming some seven years after the deaths shocked Australia

Outside of court, Min Lin's parents wept in relief after the guilty verdictOutside of court, Min Lin’s parents wept in relief after the guilty verdict

'We're very happy': The pair managed to stutter amidst heavy sobbing as reporters surrounded them outside of NSW Supreme Court‘We’re very happy’: The pair managed to stutter amidst heavy sobbing as reporters surrounded them outside of NSW Supreme Court

 Xie was found to have left their bed in the early hours of July 18, 2009, hours after attending a ‘normal’ Friday night dinner with his extended family.

His wife confirmed his alibi, that he didn’t leave their bed that night, but the Crown suggested Xie sedated her before creeping into the Lin residence around the corner.

TIMELINE OF MURDERS

July 18, 2009: Five members of the Lin family are found dead in their North Epping home

May 5, 2011:  Robert Xie is arrested and charged with five counts of murder

December 19, 2012: Xie is committed to stand trial

July 22, 2013: Trial delayed to March

August, 2014: Second trial begins, but is aborted due to judge’s health issues

February, 2015: Third trial begins, but jury is unable to reach a verdict after ten months

December 8, 2015: Xie is granted bail

June, 2016: Retrial is commenced in Sydney

 January 12, 2017: Xie is found guilty of five murders

Ms Lin lied at times to ‘assist’ her husband, not because she knew he was guilty but because she was convinced he was framed by police, prosecutor Tanya Smith said.

At the Lin house, Xie disconnected the electricity before making his way upstairs in the dark.

He then used a hammer-like object to inflict horrific head injuries on his newsagent brother-in-law, Min Lin, 45, and his wife, Lily, 43, as they lay in their bed.

He did the same to Lily’s sister, Irene, 39, in the next room.

Blood splatters revealed a furious struggle took place in the third bedroom occupied by Xie’s nephews.

But Henry, 12, and Terry, 9, still suffered the same shocking fate in the North Epping home.

‘This was a well-planned crime of a personal nature, by a single person who has carefully improvised a murder weapon,’ Ms Smith said.

Kathy Lin, the wife of Robert, has supported her husband for years and proclaimed his innocence. On Thursday, he was found guilty of killing her familyKathy Lin, the wife of Robert, has supported her husband for years and proclaimed his innocence. On Thursday, he was found guilty of killing her family

Forensic specialists are pictured at the North Epping home where all five of the bodies were found in 2009. The court heard that Xie cut the electricity before entering the houseForensic specialists are pictured at the North Epping home where all five of the bodies were found in 2009. The court heard that Xie cut the electricity before entering the house

Xie believed he was entitled to respect and admiration within the extended family, but felt he was denied this because of the uncritical and misplaced high regard given to Min Lin.

‘The Crown case is that this perception evoked intense emotions on his part, including anger and resentment.’

The Crown also contended that Xie had a sexual motive, details of which cannot be published for legal reasons.

Four of the victims died from the combined effects of blunt force trauma and asphyxia, involving injuries indicative of neck compression.

The Crown cited Xie’s medical skills, while Witness A, who was in jail with Xie, said Xie showed him a particular location on the neck, which was incapacitating.

Xie had a perverted sexual fascination with a teenager connected to the family, and would rub himself against her while erect, the murder trial also heardXie had a perverted sexual fascination with a teenager connected to the family, and would rub himself against her while erect, the murder trial also heard

Horrifically murdered: Xie's Chinese-born brother-in-law Norman Lin and Lin's wife Lily (both pictured) were killedHorrifically murdered: Xie’s Chinese-born brother-in-law Norman Lin and Lin’s wife Lily (both pictured) were killed

Witness A also testified to seeing Xie, who always appeared calm in the dock, screaming at an elderly inmate who was using a walking frame.

‘The whole (exercise) yard stopped,’ he said.

‘It was like zero to 100.

Defence barrister Robert Webb had argued the ‘highly organised’ and brutal execution involved multiple assailants, also contending that Xie got on well with his relatives.

He particularly loved his nephew Henry whom he treated like a son.

But the Crown said the boys and Irene were ‘collateral damage’ or secondary victims who may have woken up when the adults were being murdered.

‘The Crown case is that he came to kill Min and Lily and was prepared to kill others should the need arise.’

What the jury heard in the trial

WHAT THE CROWN SAID:

* One person murdered the Lin family at their North Epping home in Sydney, in the early hours of July 18, 2009

* Xie sedated his wife before leaving their bed and creeping into the Lin residence, 300 metres away

* Xie knew the location of the Lin’s outside power box to enable the electricity to be turned off

* Xie had access to a key and knew the layout of the Lin house

* Bloodied shoe prints in the Lin home were consistent with Asics sneakers Xie wore

* On May 6, 2010, Xie cuts up shoe boxes, showing ‘consciousness of guilt’

* Small ‘bloodstain’ – dubbed Stain 91 – on Xie’s garage floor ‘most likely’ contains DNA of four Lin family victims

* Partly motivated by his perceived ‘inferior’ status in the Lin family – supported by evidence of Witness A, an inmate who recorded Xie speaking disparagingly of Min Lin

WHAT THE DEFENCE SAID:

* It wasn’t one person in the dark

* Improbable all five victims could be controlled by one person; crime scene suggests more than one assailant

* Xie’s wife Kathy Lin confirms his alibi of being asleep with her at the time of the murders

* Disputes DNA evidence and the Crown’s assertion stain on Xie’s garage floor is blood

* No evidence showing Xie motivated to harm the Lin family

* Xie got on well with Lin family and was particularly close to nephew Henry

* He cut up the shoe boxes as he feared police would falsely implicate him in the murders

* Conversations with Witness A were ‘nothing more than jail talk’

* Denies Crown’s suggestion of a sexual motive, details of which cannot be published.


abc.net.au

Mother pleads guilty to murdering three children in lake crash

submerged-four-wheel-drive-in-a-lake-at-wyndham-vale-in-2015

Submerged four wheel drive in a lake at Wyndham Vale in 2015

Mon 16 Jan 2017, 12:35pm

A mother has pleaded guilty to murdering three of her seven children, and trying to kill a fourth, by driving into a lake at Wyndham Vale in Melbourne’s south-west.

Akon Guode, 37, showed little emotion as she pleaded guilty to murdering her one-year-old son Bol and four-year-old twins, Hanger and Madit, and attempting to murder her five-year-old daughter Alual in 2015.

The mother’s plea in the Victorian Supreme Court came at a mention hearing before she was due to stand trial.

As the charges were read to her, through the help of an interpreter, the only words she said were “guilty” to each charge.

Passersby and emergency services frantically tried to help Guode and her children after her car plunged deep into Lake Gladman at Wyndham Vale.

Alual survived after being pulled from the water and sent to hospital.

A police statement publicly released in July last year alleged Guode spoke about killing herself and her children on the day of the tragedy.

A court hearing was previously told she drove by a lake at Wyndham Vale five times before “deliberately and consciously” driving into the water.

Guode’s eldest daughter had testified that her mother had dizzy spells six months before she drove into the lake.

Guode came to Australia from South Sudan to escape war after her first husband died.

She had been having a long affair with the father of the children involved in the incident, Joseph Manyang.

Mr Manyang separated from his wife after Hanger and Madit were born and the affair became public, but lived separately from Guode and her children.

The court was earlier told Guode became too frightened to interact with the Sudanese community.

Mr Manyang described Guode as a caring and loving mother.

During a court hearing Guode collapsed and wailed as a harrowing triple-0 call from the incident was played in court.

Following the deaths of the children there was an outpouring of grief from the local Sudanese community.

ABC/AAP


Children die, others critical in car lake plunge at Wyndham Vale

A SUDANESE MOTHER of seven was driving the car that ploughed into a Melbourne lake killing a baby, young twins and critically injuring a third child.

UPDATE 08/12/15

Police allege she drove by the lake five agonising times before driving into it, with witnesses describing seeing a woman slumped over the wheel as her children ran wild in the back seat.

heraldsun.com.au

Mum watched kids drown: police claim

Akon Guode, centre, is comforted by family and friends at a memorial for her children. Picture: Ian Currie

A MOTHER accused of killing her three children by driving them into a lake stood by and watched them die, court documents reveal.

Court documents released tonight reveal a witness saw Akon Guode accelerate further into a Wyndham vale lake after landing in shallow water.

Ms Guode, 36, is charged with three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

For at least two hours earlier, she did laps of the lake’s entry point, police allege.

She cried and begged Magistrate Carolene Gwynn to set her free today despite her lawyers failing to make any application for bail.

Police allege she drove by the lake five agonising times before driving into it, with witnesses describing seeing a woman slumped over the wheel as her children ran wild in the back seat.

PREVIOUSLY: THREE MURDER CHARGES OVER LAKE TRAGEDY

Cameras allegedly catch her pull over before driving out of view into the lake.

One witness told police he called 000 but was not overly concerned because the car was not far enough into the lake.

“The accused upon entry into the water has then accelerated the vehicle, causing the wheels to spin and provide sufficient motion to advance into the lake to the middle,” the documents state.

A group watches as police divers prepare to remove Akon Guode’s car after it plunged into a lake in Wyndham Vale. Picture: Mark Stewart
Joseph Tito Manyang, the father of the three children killed in a Wyndam Vale lake. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/AAP

The witness claims she drove another 20 metres into the lake from where he first saw her land.

As one of her children tried to swim to shore, Ms Guode was “screaming but standing, doing nothing not panicked”, the witness claimed.

Police claim all of the children somehow managed to escape out of the open driver’s side window, where Ms Guode stood and watched them drown.

Firefighters claimed they watched Ms Guode stand silently before dunking herself in the water.

One girl, six-year-old Aluel, was rescued and survived.

Once safe, Ms Guode allegedly told desperate emergency workers only three of her kids were in the car.

In the five minutes it took her to mention her fourth, the child was dead.

Court documents allege Ms Gouda drove around the lake in Wyndhamvale for two-and-a-half hours before the fatal incident.

Akon Guode with crash survivor Aluel as a baby.

Police allege the mother of seven was struggling at the time with her children and gossip within the Sudanese community about her affair with the father of four of her children.

Court documents allege Ms Guode became the mistress of her dead husband’s cousin Joseph Manyang in 2008, bearing his child behind his then wife’s back.

When the relationship was discovered, it was shunned by her local community until the day of the tragedy in April this year.

“This caused considerable ongoing unhappiness for the accused,” the documents allege.

Ms Guode went on to have three more children with Mr Manyang, who separated with his wife in early 2011.

On the day the children died, rumours circulating within the Sudanese community was that Mr Manyang would leave Ms Guode to return to his wife.

Up until then, the alleged killer had been hoping to move to Morwell to be closer to family and Mr Manyang, who lived in the area.

Police allege she was also under considerable financial pressure.

At the court hearing Ms Guode cried and begged Magistrate Carolene Gwynn to set her free despite her lawyers failing to make any application for bail.

Speaking through an interpreter, Ms Guode, told the court she wanted to go home.

“I’m feeling emotional,” she said before bursting into tears.

“I (will) go back home. I (will) not escape…everything you tell me to do, I’ll do. I won’t go anywhere.”

She will return to court in June.

wayne.flower@news.com.au


The car was up to 30m from the lake’s shore. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

The car was up to 30m from the lake’s shore. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

  • Three children have died and two others are critically hurt
  • A woman was also in the car and is in under police guard in hospital
  • The crash happened at a lake off Manor Boulevard, Wyndham Vale at 3.40pm
  • All four children are believed to be aged under six
  • A neighbour smashed the rear windscreen to rescue the children

POLICE have confirmed a third child has died after their car plunged into a lake at Wyndham Vale this afternoon.

The car was found in the lake off Manor Lakes Boulevard, near Pedder Street, at 3.40pm.

The female driver is under police guard in Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Police believe all four children were under six years of age.

The car is about 20 to 30 metres from the shore.

An emotional Superintendent Stuart Bateson said “we don’t know why, we don’t know how” the car entered lake, about 38km west of Melbourne’s CBD.

He said it was “too early” to tell whether the female driver was the mother of all four children.

“All we know at this stage is a female driver has been taken to hospital and we have two deceased children,” he said.

ANYONE WHO WITNESSED THE CRASH IS URGED TO CONTACT CRIME STOPPERS ON 1800 333 000

“We have another two children that have been flown to hospital in a serious condition.

“What we do know is that when the car left (the road) passers by and police members got some of the children out and did CPR.

“Unfortunately two of the children passed away.”

Lake tragedy
 Detectives from the Major Collision Investigation Unit are at the scene.

They will try to piece together the exact cause of the crash, determining how fast the car was travelling, whether the car braked or swerved and other factors like road conditions.

The Search and Rescue squad is also attending the scene and will retrieve the vehicle from the water.

Tests can then be conducted on the car to make sure there are no mechanical faults or defects.

Superintendent Bateson said police were unsure whether the car was driving erratically before entering the lake.

Authorities at the scene. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Authorities at the scene. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

“It is pretty early in our investigation,” he said.

“What we do know is that we have a very tragic set of circumstances here and it is going to be a very harrowing investigation.”

He said “everyone”, including police, had been affected by the tragic scene.

“When you come to a scene like this and my members in particular, who have been performing CPR for an extended period of time, are really feeling it,” he said.

“It is tough for everyone involved.”

The location of this afternoon’s tragic incident. Image: Google Maps

The location of this afternoon’s tragic incident. Image: Google Maps

The Superintendent said nearby SES and CFA members helped at the scene, as community members jumped into the lake in an attempt to rescue the children.

Resident Michelle told 3AW her neighbour Travis had to smash the car’s back windscreen to rescue the children.

“It’s just a horrible scene.” she said.

“Travis jumped into the water, smashed the back screen of the car and got one little boy out,” she said.

“Then they started working on him.”

Crying, she added: “It’s so very hard to talk about when there are children involved.”

Michelle said the car was travelling along Manor Lakes Boulevard and “but just went straight over into the lake.”

She said: “I’m not sure if it was speeding or what happened.”

Resident Kate Slee, who lives opposite where the crash occurred, said the park was normally a “pretty place” popular among families.

“I am devastated because I’ve got two kids of my own,’’ she said.

Stacie Buckley, also nearby, said: “It’s terrible. It’s a complete shock knowing it’s so close to home. I’ve got kids myself so anything involving kids is just awful.”

“You would never think something like this would happen in that particular spot. The ponds are retty far back from the road. It’s just completely shocking.”

Anyone who witnessed the crash is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au


Wyndham Vale crash: Three children killed, one other injured as car crashes into Melbourne lake

Updated 1 minute ago

A woman is under police guard in hospital after the car she was driving crashed into a lake, killing three children and injuring one other in Melbourne’s west this afternoon.

Emergency services said the car, which had five people in it, plunged into the lake near the intersection of Manor Lakes Boulevard and Pedder Street at Wyndham Vale.

Passersby and police officers jumped into the lake and punched holes through the car’s windows to rescue the people inside and then started giving the children CPR.

One other child was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Police believe all four children are under the age of six.

The woman who was driving the vehicle was rescued and is under police guard at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She is in a stable condition.

Superintendent Stuart Bateson said it was unclear what caused the crash.

“All we know at this stage is a female driver has been taken to hospital,” he said.

Superintendent Bateson said it was too early to say if the woman driving the vehicle was the mother of the children.

“What we do know is that when the car [crashed] passersby and police members got some of the children out and did CPR,” he said.

He said police were investigating a “tragic set of circumstances”.

“It’s going to be a really harrowing investigation,” he said.

Aerial pictures from the scene showed a vehicle submerged in water about 10 metres from the lake’s edge.

Dozens of emergency workers attended the scene to treat the injured.

Mariosarti restaurant owner Daniel Milos charged with cocaine trafficking


Mariosarti restaurant owner Daniel Milos charged with cocaine trafficking

Updated 22 minutes ago

The owner of an upmarket Brisbane restaurant and two of his employees have been arrested as part of a police operation targeting a drug and ice network.

Daniel Bernard Milos, 40, was arrested on Friday, along with four others after police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission swooped to close a 14-month operation.

The Toowong-based restaurant, Mariosarti, was raided by police as part of the probe.

More than 30 charges were laid and drugs with an estimated street value of $750,000 were seized.

Milos, of Fig Tree Pocket, was charged with trafficking cocaine.

Others arrested were named as Ryan David McIver, 29, Brad Matthew Watt, 42, Rebecca Jane Graham, 38 and a 35-year-old man who was given a drug diversion notice.

McIver is listed on the restaurant’s website as the head chef, while Graham describes herself as the restaurant’s payroll manager on her LinkedIn profile.

The group is expected to face court on Saturday morning.

Investigators commenced proceedings to confiscate cars, property, and assets under Queensland’s proceeds of crime laws.

Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker said police remained at several properties continuing to search for evidence.

“As a result of our operation we have targeted a prominent Brisbane businessman and the message that we’d like to get across here is if you wish to distribute dangerous drugs in our area we will target you no matter who you are,” he said.

“We will be alleging that this is a sophisticated network that’s been distributing drugs in our area.

“Cocaine is a drug of choice of the wealthy I would say — we are seeing an increase in cocaine on the streets in Queensland.

“We usually don’t run this type of cocaine operation, this is probably one of the biggest cocaine jobs that the Queensland Police Service has run.”

Topics: drug-offences, crime, law-crime-and-justice, cocaine

First posted about 3 hours ago


 

Mariosarti restaurant owner Daniel Milos on drug charges

  • Jorge Branco and Toby Crockford

A prominent Brisbane restaurant owner, whose brother was bludgeoned to death, has been arrested on drug charges.

Police executed 11 search warrants on Friday morning in what has been described as one of the biggest cocaine operations in the history of Queensland police

One of the premises raided was Toowong Italian restaurant Mariosarti, with owner Daniel Milos arrested. Police also raided 10 other addresses across the Gold Coast and Brisbane, including a Fig Tree Pocket home.

Police said five people in total had been arrested on 33 drug-related charges and expected further charges to be laid at a later date. The others in custody have been described as Mr. Milos’ “business associates”.

The searches and arrests were carried out as part of Operation Oscar Decimal, which started in February 2016 and saw the Queensland Police Service working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Drug and Serious Crime Group Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker estimated the street value of the cocaine seized during the 14-month operation to be between $750,000 and $1 million. He said a significant quantity had been seized as part of Friday’s searches, along with high-end vehicles.

He described the operation as a “sophisticated network”, saying investigations were ongoing but added police had targeted a “prominent business person”.

“If you wish to distribute dangerous drugs in our area, we will target you, no matter who you are,” he said.

Superintendent Wacker said cocaine was a drug of choice for the wealthy and police had seen an increase in cocaine on the streets. He added the sharing of information across Queensland law enforcement agencies had led to the establishment and success of Operation Oscar Decimal.

Mr. Milos’ chef brother Peter, with whom he owned the restaurant, was bludgeoned to death in 2014. James Thomas Howell was acquitted in February of the chef’s murder.

ACIC state manager Charlie Carver said the result was significant due to the large amount of drugs seized and disruption to the distribution network.

“Many criminals run so-called front-end shops and businesses which will appear at first blush to actually be legitimate,” he said.

“However once you dig into the investigation and you look through what’s actually been happening, you find the illegal activity which is used to launder funds and also fund further illicit activities.”

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Benjamin Moorhouse filmed more than 200 people in Sydney public toilets, court told


Man secretly filmed more than 200 people in Sydney public toilets, court told

 A man secretly filmed more than 200 people, including a girl and boy, in Sydney public toilets for his own “sexual gratification,” a court has been told.

Benjamin Moorhouse allegedly placed secret cameras under the sink of toilets at Parramatta and North Sydney train stations, and at a disabled toilet at Westfield Parramatta shopping centre, in February and March.

The 40-year-old, who was arrested on March 22, appeared at Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday, where his lawyer indicated he would plead guilty to all charges.

Moorhouse is charged with five counts of filming a person in a private act for the purpose of “sexual arousal or sexual gratification”.

Two of those charges are aggravated because the alleged victims, a boy and a girl, were under 16.

Moorhouse is also charged with three counts of installing a device to film people without consent.

It is further alleged Moorhouse “engaged in a private act” without the consent of the victims.

The 40-year-old, who was dressed in a suit when he appeared before a magistrate on Wednesday, later ran from the court complex wearing a hooded jumper, jeans and sunglasses.

 

One of the devices police allege was used for the filmingOne of the devices police allege was used for the filming Photo: NSW Police

Police say they found Moorhouse with a camera similar to those uncovered at the stations when they arrested him outside his Parramatta home a month ago.

Almost 100 people were filmed at a Parramatta train station toilet between February 13 and 14, while another 23 were filmed on the morning of February 10 in a toilet at North Sydney station, according to court documents.

The cameras were found by train staff.

About 100 people were also allegedly filmed in a Westfield Parramatta disabled toilet between March 17 and 20.

Moorhouse’s bail was continued until his next court appearance on May 31.

AAP


 

Bourke Street Mow down Tragedy by Dimitrious Gargasoulas…. Standby (lost last edit)


Accused Bourke St driver Dimitrious Gargasoulas tells court ‘I am the saviour’

Posted about 5 hours ago

The man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens of pedestrians during a driving rampage through Melbourne’s CBD has told a court he is “the saviour”.

For the first time since he allegedly drove his car through the Bourke Street mall in January, Dimitrious Gargasoulas appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court via video-link on unrelated charges.

The 26-year-old’s lawyer had previously told the court that he had been too ill to attend.

Dressed in a black jumper and white t-shirt, Gargasoulas smiled during the brief hearing and interjected on several occasions.

He said, “Your Honour, I wanted to tell you something”, and later spoke about the Bible and the Koran, yelling, “Aboriginal law is identical to Muslim law”.

His lawyer spoke over the top of him, warning him that members of the media were in court.

Gargasoulas then said: “All the law is illegal.”

Later, he said: “Your Honour, did you know the Muslim faith is the correct faith according to the whole world? And I am not guilty.”

Before his video-link was switched off, he called out: “I am the saviour.”

Gargasoulas faces charges for theft and other offences allegedly committed in early January and late last year, including driving on the wrong side of the road to evade police in St Kilda.

The matter has been adjourned until May.

Gargasoulas is also due to reappear in court in December, for a separate hearing in relation to six charges of murder, 28 of attempted murder and conduct endangering life following the Bourke Street tragedy in January.


2017 Melbourne car attack

2017 Melbourne-Bourke Street Car Attacks Arrest.jpg

Police arrest the alleged perpetrator at 555 Bourke St

Location Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Date 20 January 2017 (2017-01-20)
1:30 pm (AEDT)
Attack type Vehicular attack
Deaths 6
Non-fatal injuries 36
Perpetrator Dimitrious Gargasoulas[1]

On 20 January 2017, around 1:30 pm AEDT, a car was driven into pedestrians in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia. Six people were killed and at least thirty others wounded, three of whom sustained critical injuries.[2][3] Police have alleged that the victims were intentionally hit, and have charged the driver of the vehicle, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, with six counts of murder.[4]

Background

The red Holden Commodore car used in the attack was stolen from a man who lives in the same block of flats as Gargasoulas. Upon being interviewed, the car owner alleged that on the night of 18 January 2017, Gargasoulas entered his flat with a bible, sat down, started burning it and threw it into his face. After this, he said that he flicked it on the floor and was then punched by Gargasoulas.[5]

It is alleged that Gargasoulas stabbed his brother in a flat in Windsor in the early hours of 20 January 2017, leaving the brother in critical condition.[5] He then took his pregnant girlfriend hostage; she was later released on the Bolte Bridge.[6]

Attack

There are videos of the man driving and behaving erratically at the intersection of Flinders Street, St Kilda Road and Swanston Street, outside the entrance of Flinders Street railway station. Two men, year 12 student Tevita Mahina and his cousin Isaac Tupou attempted to stop him, hitting the windscreen with a baseball bat. The driver continued north-bound up Swanston St western-side footpath at speed towards the Bourke Street Mall, turned left onto Bourke Street southern-side footpath and struck more than 20 pedestrians. The car was brought to a halt and the driver was shot in the arm by a police critical incident response team and arrested in front of 555 Bourke Street.[7] A child and two adults died at the scene,[8] while another man died in hospital before the end of the day, and a three-month-old baby boy the evening after the attack.[9] A sixth person died on 30 January.[10]

Victims

Floral tributes to victims of the attack at a memorial at the Western end of the Bourke Street Mall.

Among the victims was a 10-year-old girl, who died on 20 January,[11] as well as a three-month-old baby boy who died on 21 January. The others were a 25-year-old man, a 22-year-old woman, a 33-year-old man, and a 33-year-old woman.[12][13][10]

A memorial for the victims was held in Federation Square on 23 January,[14] and floral tributes were left by members of the public at nine locations along the Bourke Street Mall.[15] On 30 January it was announced that a permanent memorial garden would be established, and that donations approaching AU$1,000,000 had been made to the Bourke Street Fund for the families of the victims.[16] On 31 January, the inorganic tributes were removed from the mall for storage by the Melbourne City Council, and the floral tributes taken for composting for the Victims of Crime memorial near State Parliament.[17]

Perpetrator

Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Graham Ashton confirmed that 26-year-old Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas[18][19] had previously been remanded into custody and was known to police having a history of illicit drug use, family violence, and mental health problems.[20]

In the days before the attack, Gargasoulas began to post messages on Facebook about “religion, God, Satan, heaven and hell”, which writers for The Age described as “rambling and often nonsensical”.[5] According to the Daily Express and Greece based TornosNews.gr, the perpetrator is a GreekTongan Australian.

Gargasoulas’ father told Seven News “he’s not the Jimmy I used to know” and he would “scratch his son off his books”, while his mother told News.com.au she is ashamed to be his mum, and she wanted her son to “die in hell”.[21]

Police reported that the perpetrator was “not on our books as having any connection with terrorism … He has been coming to our attention more recently, over recent days, in relation to assaults, family violence related assaults”.[19] The perpetrator had allegedly stabbed his younger brother for being gay.[22]

According to an eyewitness, Gargasoulas repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar”, often linked to Islamic terrorism. Police later asked Melbourne Herald Sun reporter Andrea Hanblin to remove her video interview of the eyewitness who made these claims.[23][24]

Timeline of events

14 January 2017
  • Police charge Gargasoulas at Prahran police station with speeding on the wrong side of the road and ignoring a police direction to stop. Police oppose bail, but Gargasoulas is granted bail for a 20 January court date.[25]
18 January 2017
  • Gargasoulas attacks Gavin Wilson, his mother’s ex-partner, by thrusting a burning Bible in his face and stealing his car.[26]
19 January 2017
  • 9:26 pm: Gargasoulas ‘checks in’ at Dogs Bar, St Kilda, on Facebook, posting: “Thinking. About what to do with them lol.”[27]
  • 10:00 pm: Gargasoulas is refused entry to Dogs Bar as he is suspected to be under the influence.
20 January 2017
  • 12:30 am: Gargasoulas returns to Dogs Bar, in a maroon-coloured car believed to be the same car he stole from Wilson, later to be used in the attack. Patrons report that he smashes glasses and plates.[27]
  • 2:15 am: Police are called to an address in Raleigh Street, Windsor, after reports are lodged of two men fighting. Both victim and Gargasoulas are gone by the time police arrive.
  • 8.04 am: Gargasoulas is spotted driving in the background of a Today “live cross” which is reporting on the Windsor stabbing. The man rolls down the car window and waves his hat at the news camera.[28]
  • 11:30 am: Police follow the car along tram tracks in Clarendon Street in South Melbourne and unsuccessfully attempt to arrest Gargasoulas at a South Wharf intersection.
  • 11:45 am: Police spot the car weaving through traffic on Williamstown Road in Yarraville, west of Melbourne. Police pull back due to safety concerns as the car is being driven “erratically and dangerously.” The police air wing tracks the car as it moves toward the city.[29]
  • 1:30 pm: Emergency services are flooded with calls with reports of a car doing burnouts outside Flinders Street Station.
  • 1:33 pm: The car in question drives north up Swanston Street.[30]
  • 1:35 pm: The car then allegedly struck a number of pedestrians in the vicinity of Bourke Street Mall, before proceeding further along Bourke Street, past intersection with Queen Street.
  • 1:37 pm: Reports of multiple shots fired, Gargasoulas is pulled from the car on William Street.
  • 2:30 pm: Ambulance Victoria state that they are treating 20 people in Bourke Street, many of them sustaining serious injuries.
  • 2:30 pm: Victoria Police release a statement confirming that the situation has been “contained”, one person has been arrested and another dead.
  • 3:20 pm: Police confirm at a press conference that three people have died and the incident was not terrorism-related.
  • 9:00 pm: Police confirm that a fourth person had died in hospital.
21 January 2017
  • 10:53 pm: Police confirm that a fifth person (a three-month-old child) had died in hospital. [31]
23 January 2017
  • Gargasoulas is excused from court by the magistrate, claiming that he is feeling unwell. He is charged with five counts of murder.[32]
30 January 2017
  • Police confirm a 33 year old woman has died in hospital due to her injuries. This raises the death toll to 6.

Responses

The Royal Children’s Hospital treated many children injured in the attack

Police urged the public to share their testimonies and collaborated with over 300 witnesses.[33] Graham Ashton, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, was quick to dismiss claims the attack was an act of terror, but supposed it instead a consequence of an alleged stabbing which had developed into a crime spree. Victoria Police maintain religion was not a significant motivation.[34] In an interview the day after the attack, Andrew Crisp, Deputy Police Commissioner, stated that police were hoping to interview and charge the suspect later in the day. He said that the fact that the suspect had been out on bail would be looked into by police. He congratulated everyone who dealt with the situation, stating “We saw the best of people yesterday. The support they gave to people on the street, it was amazing.”[35]

Politicians

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten offered their prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families.[36]

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews stated that “this was a terrible crime – a senseless, evil act” and promised that “justice will be done”.[37] Then the Victorian Government established a fund to provide financial assistance for the families of the deceased, and made an initial donation of $100,000.[38]

A review of the Victorian bail law will be undertaken.[39]

See also

References

  1. Jump up ^ David Hurley, Shannon Deery, Cassie Zervos and Kara Irving (21 January 2017). “Melbourne CBD rampage driver Dimitrious Gargasoulas allegedly warned ‘I’ll take you all out’ in chilling Facebook post”. Herald Sun. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  2. Jump up ^ Butt, Craig (20 January 2017). “As it happened: CBD horror, four dead, 31 hospitalised as car knocks down pedestrians”. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  3. Jump up ^ “Four dead in man’s Melbourne crime spree”. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  4. Jump up ^ “Bourke Street attack: Sixth murder charge for Dimitrious ‘Jimmy’ Gargasoulas”. The Age. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  5. ^ Jump up to: a b c “Bourke Street driver identified as James ‘Jimmy’ Gargasoulas”, Tammy Mills, Beau Donelly and Chris Vedelago, The Age, 20 January 2017.
  6. Jump up ^ “‘Die in hell’: Parents disown alleged rampage driver”. au.news.yahoo.com. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  7. Jump up ^ “Four dead in man’s Melbourne crime spree”, AAP, 20 January 2017.
  8. Jump up ^ “Death toll could rise from Vic car attack”. yahoo.com. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  9. Jump up ^ “Melbourne car attack: Bourke Street death toll reaches five after three-month-old baby dies”. ABC News. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Jump up to: a b McKay, Zervos, Holly, Cassie. “Blackburn South woman dies in hospital after Bourke St rampage”. Herald Sun. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  11. Jump up ^ https://www.theage.com.au/victoria/bourke-street-chaos-10yearold-girl-thalia-hakin-killed-in-cbd-carnage-20170121-gtw40v.html
  12. Jump up ^ Miletic, Carolyn Webb, Daniella (22 January 2017). “Bourke Street attack: City in mourning after baby boy dies, taking death toll to five”. 
  13. Jump up ^ “Two victims of CDB rampage named”. Herald Sun. 22 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  14. Jump up ^ Burin and staff, Margaret (24 January 2017). “Melbourne car attack: Bourke Street victims remembered at vigil in Federation Square”. ABC News. 
  15. Jump up ^ DAVIES, HAMBLIN, FLOWER, HURLEY, BRIDGET, ANDREA, WAYNE, DAVID (23 January 2017). “Love flows for CBD massacre victims”. Herald Sun. 
  16. Jump up ^ “Bourke Street tributes left for victims of attack to be removed as appeal nears $1 million”. ABC News. 30 January 2017. 
  17. Jump up ^ Woods, Emily (31 January 2017). “One bunch at a time, Bourke Street’s floral memorial is carefully moved on”. The Age. 
  18. Jump up ^ “How The Bourke Street Rampage Was Quickly Claimed To Be ‘Islamic Terrorism'”. 
  19. ^ Jump up to: a b “Driver accused of deadly carnage in Melbourne CBD named”, Herald Sun, Andie Hamblin, Padraic Murphy, Mark Buttler, 20 January 2017.
  20. Jump up ^ Ltd, Australian News Channel Pty. “Four killed in Melbourne CBD attack”. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  21. Jump up ^ “‘His dad called me an Aussie sl*t,’ says old friend of Melbourne driver”. NewsComAu. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  22. Jump up ^ “‘No one could’ve predicted what he did'”. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  23. Jump up ^ “BREAKING: Terror Attack in Australia? Vehicle Plows into Pedestrians in Melbourne”. Homeland Security. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  24. Jump up ^ Lion, Patrick (2017-01-20). “Police deny Melbourne rampage was terrorism after witness ‘heard Allahu Akbar”‘”. mirror. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  25. Jump up ^ Cooper, Adam (23 January 2017). “Bourke Street: Alleged killer refuses to appear in court”. The Age. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  26. Jump up ^ “Melbourne CBD attack: Timeline that led to Bourke Street tragedy”. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  27. ^ Jump up to: a b “Melbourne CBD horror: Driver seen at Dogs Bar before Bourke Street attack”. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  28. Jump up ^ “Bourke Street tragedy: Driver appeared on TV hours before pedestrians killed”. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  29. Jump up ^ “Melbourne car incident: What happened where?”. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  30. Jump up ^ “CCTV footage shows pedestrians dodging Melbourne driver”. ABC. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  31. Jump up ^ “Five deceased following Bourke Street Mall incident in Melbourne”. Victoria Police. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  32. Jump up ^ Cooper, Adam (23 January 2017). “Bourke Street: Alleged killer refuses to appear in court”. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  33. Jump up ^ “Melbourne car attack: Leaders pay respects to Bourke St victims, Premier mulls changes to bail laws”, Loretta Florance and Frances Bell, ABC News, 22 January 2017.
  34. Jump up ^ “Four dead after shots fired and car rampage in Melbourne CBD”, Andrew Koubaridis, Debbie Schipp, Matt Young, Emma Reynolds, news.com.au, 22 January 2017.
  35. Jump up ^ “Four killed, 30 injured after car mows down pedestrians in Melbourne”, Helen Davidson, Calla Wahlquist and agencies, The Guardian, 21 January 2017.
  36. Jump up ^ “Australian leaders react to the car rampage in Melbourne’s CBD”. The Canberra Times. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  37. Jump up ^ “Statement on Bourke Street”, Daniel Andrews, 20 January 2017.
  38. Jump up ^ “The Bourke Street Fund”, State Government of Victoria.
  39. Jump up ^ “Deadly Bourke St rampage prompts bail law reform in Victoria”. ABC News. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 

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