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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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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

  • 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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NSW Premier demands probe into handling of mother facing attempted murder charge

SUN 5 MAR 2017 

Video: A police helicopter searched the river for the missing boy on Friday. ABC

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has instructed government agencies to probe their handling of a case involving a woman police allege tried to drown her two sons in the Murray River.

Key points:

  • Police allege the woman and her sons went fishing at the Murray River
  • It is alleged she held one son under the water in an attempt to drown him
  • Police have found the body of the boy

One child survived and remains in hospital. His brother’s body was pulled from the river yesterday.

The woman, aged in her 20s, has been charged with attempted murder — and further charges are expected to be laid.

The children were being cared for by their grandmother. Her lawyer Dale Brooks said there had been several “warning signs” that authorities had “missed”.

He said the family had contacted police, the Department of Family and Community Services in NSW and the Department of Corrective Services but none had replied to their inquiries.

Police putting up blue tarps as they remove the body of a boy from the Murray River.

Ms Berejiklian said the circumstances of the woman’s case would be examined.

“We’ve asked for all of our agencies to give us urgent reports on what they knew,” she said.

“We will be instigating investigations but we will be cooperating with all the authorities to get to the bottom of this.

“This is a human tragedy of the highest proportion.”

Gladys Berejiklian delivers her NSW Budget 2016 in Parliament on June 21, 2016.

Michelle Micallef, acting assistant commissioner for Community Corrections, said she strongly denied most of the serious allegations against her staff.

“It appears our staff took reasonable steps to put appropriate services in place and to make alternative accommodation arrangements. We could not have foreseen this shocking outcome,” she said.

“We have conducted an initial review of the claims, and found no evidence for most of them. Some are still being investigated.”
Ms Berejiklian said she was “absolutely devastated” when she heard about the incident.

“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family, I can’t imagine what they’d be going through at this time,” she said.

“I want to give them an assurance that we will make sure all of our agencies look into the matters as appropriately and as quickly as possible.”

The state’s Department of Family and Community Services said the incident had saddened staff.

A woman with a blurred face sits in the back of a police van.

“Our thoughts are with the family at this tragic and difficult time,” a spokesperson said.

The mother was extradited from Victoria to NSW on Friday night and did not appear in court at Deniliquin yesterday. She was denied bail and will return to court tomorrow.

The woman and her two sons, who are under the age of 10, went fishing in the Murray River near Moama on Thursday afternoon when the incident unfolded.

The woman allegedly asked the older boy to get into the river and dunk his head in the water, an earlier court hearing was told.

External Link: Moama, the Riverina District, NSW

It is alleged she then held him under the water in an attempt to drown him.

The court was told the boy was able to wriggle free when his younger brother started screaming on the riverbank and the mother turned around.

On the riverbank, the older boy was mauled by a dog which was reacting to what was happening in the water and he was flown to Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital.

Emergency services workers in wet suits in the river.

Mother charged with attempted murder of son at Murray River


Mother charged with attempted murder of son at Murray River http://ab.co/2mLWXMz – via @abcnews

http://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.159.0_en.html#goog_913813622

Search for young boy reported missing in Murray River near Moama

Woman charged, boy missing in Murray River at Moama

March 3, 2017 10:15pm

A DRUG addict mum has been charged with one count of ­attempted murder after she allegedly tried to drown her two sons in the Murray River.

The woman’s eldest boy, 9, survived after a dog intervened and attacked her.

A desperate search of the river continues for his missing five-year-old brother.

On Wednesday, the 27-year-old mother — whose name cannot be published for legal reasons — allegedly took the children from the home of their grandparents in Deniliquin, in southern NSW. They had been caring for the boys for the past 18 months.

Buddy, the dog.
The children’s mother was arrested in Echuca.

Police allege the mother arrived at a friend’s property on Perricoota Rd in the border town of Moama, which backs on to the river, on Thursday afternoon.

Shocking details of the next hours were aired in Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Friday. It heard that the mother took her sons to the water’s edge and demanded that the eldest boy get in the water, the Bendigo ­Advertiser reported.

Detective Sergeant Trent Swinton told the court that the mother was ­attempting to drown her nine-year-old when screaming from his younger brother, who was standing on the riverbank nearby, distracted her and allowed the older boy to escape.

As he ran up the bank, he was “savagely mauled” by a dog, who then attacked the mother as she turned her focus to her youngest son. He was last seen drifting face down in the river, the court heard.

NSW police on Friday night extradited the mother to Deniliquin on an arrest warrant for attempted murder. She was charged on Friday night and will appear in court for a bail hearing on Saturday morning.

Earlier, the incident was described by a senior police officer as “tragic” and one that “will rock the community of Australia”.

Up to 30 police searched to no avail until darkness fell on Friday night in the hope the youngest boy would be found alive in the fast-flowing river.

A marine rescue boat from NSW searches the Murray for the missing five-year-old. Picture: Hamish Blair

Victoria Police divers join the search. Picture: Hamish Blair
The search was suspended on Friday night and resumed at 8am this morning. Picture: Hamish Blair
Divers and police at the scene. Picture: Hamish Blair

Local community and emergency services are devastated by the tragedy.

The boys’ grandmother was on Friday night keeping a bedside vigil at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne where the surviving child was recovering.

A lawyer for the grandparents said they were “devastated” by the tragedy.

UNITED IN DISBELIEF

THE earthy banks of the ­Murray River at Moama now hold a tragic story.

Even hardened cops are struggling to cope.

Locals just shake their heads in disbelief.

The otherwise quiet country town, on the Victoria-New South Wales border, on Friday woke to the news that a ­Deniliquin mother had tried to kill her own children.

Her nine-year-old son survived, but suffered severe wounds after a dog bit him as he struggled up the banks of the river.

It was the last place his five-year-old brother had been seen and police spent the day ­combing the river, inch by inch, trying to find his body.

.
Police on a bank of the Murray. Picture: Riverine Herald
NSW police search up the river. Picture: Riverine Herald

Local police officer Superintendent Paul Condon would have seen many horrors in his years on the front line.

But even he was choking back tears when addressing the media about the horrific events of the past 24 hours.

“It will rock the community of Australia,” he said.

“It’s devastating. My police are devastated, the community is devastated.

“It’s something someone has to do and we’re the people that need to do these things.

“Things like this happen and it’s devastating, not only this town, the community, the whole local area command, New South Wales and ­Australia.

“It’s a terrible story, it’s a sad story. It’s a tragic story, not only for the community, the police, especially the family. It’s just terrible.”

Superintendent Paul Condon. Picture: Hamish Blair

But in true country style, he did not shut the door on a miracle of finding the missing boy alive.

“There’s every chance, we hope. We all live in hope.”

A woman who lived on the property in front of the stretch of river where the tragedy ­occurred said she could not comprehend how it happened.

“I was in my house at the time,” she said, crying.

Another woman, whose ex-partner was involved in rescuing the surviving boy, said he was “so distraught he ­cannot even speak”.

Neighbours of the boys and their mother in Deniliquin were also reeling.

“I’ve been crying all day,” a local trader said.

“The youngest boy was friends with my dog. He used to keep treats for him.”

rebekah.cavanagh@news.com.au

FRI 3 MAR 2017 

Video: Victorian Emergency Services personnel search the Murray River. AAP

A mother allegedly told onlookers “I had to drown my babies” after holding her two children under the water in the Murray River on the Victoria-New South Wales border, a court has heard.

Key points:

  • Police were alerted when a dog attacked the mother and the older boy in the water
  • The family are from Deniliquin in NSW
  • The mother turned herself in to Echuca police

The woman was extradited from Victoria to New South Wales on Friday night and charged for attempted murder of one of her sons.

One of the two boys, who are both aged under 10, is in hospital after being injured by a dog reacting to the scene at Moama last night.

His younger brother is still missing, feared drowned, with police divers continuing to search the river today.

The Deniliquin woman, aged in her 20s, faced an extradition order by video-link in a Bendigo court this afternoon, where it was agreed she would be sent to Deniliquin, in NSW, to face a charge of attempted murder of her older son.

Police said the mother took the boys to a property outside Moama, south of Deniliquin, yesterday at 4:00pm where they went fishing in the river.

video:Police Superintendent Paul Condon discusses the charges (ABC News)

She allegedly asked the elder boy to get into the river and dunk his head in the water, the court heard.

It is alleged she then held him under the water in an attempt to drown him.

The court was told the boy was able to wriggle free when his younger brother started screaming on the riverbank and the mother turned around.

The older boy was then “savagely mauled” by a dog.

The ABC understands the dog that bit the boy was reacting to what was happening in the water and was not a family pet.

Emergency services workers in wet suits in the river.

Police told the court that the woman then held the younger boy under the water.

He was last seen floating in the river and a search of the area continues.

Onlookers came to the older boy’s aid, and the court heard they heard the woman say, “I had to drown my babies”.

Police said the woman later made full admissions, and told them “I killed my babies”.

The older boy was taken to Echuca Hospital before being transported to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for treatment.

As police read the allegations to the court, the woman occasionally cried, rocked in her seat and held her face in her hands.

Grandmother upset agencies ‘fobbed her off’

Police divers have been searching for the younger boy today.

Lawyer Dale Brooks, who is representing the grandmother of the boys, said the grandmother had approached government agencies several times with concerns about the woman but “they fobbed her off”.

“A number of organisations ought to be held to account,” Mr Brooks told the ABC.

Helicopter hovering above the river.

The administrator of Edward River Council in Deniliquin, Ashley Hall, said the community was reeling as news came through.

“This has sent shockwaves, you’ve got a boy being operated [on] in Melbourne for dog bites and [a young boy] missing, you’ve got to hope for a miracle but it’s not looking too promising at the moment,” she said.

The search of the Murray River is being conducted by divers from Victoria Police as well as a NSW search and rescue team, the SES and the Rural Fire Service.

The NSW Police tweeted earlier that the woman had been extradited from Victoria and was being transported to Deniliquin.

She is not expected to be released on bail, they said, and will likely face Deniliquin court on Saturday.

External Link: Moama, the Riverina District, NSW

39 dead in New Year ‘terror attack’ on Istanbul nightclub Reina


January 1 2017 – 9:06PM

Istanbul, Turkey nightclub attack: more than a dozen foreigners among the dead, say officials

Istanbul:  Police in Istanbul launched a manhunt on Sunday for a gunman who killed at least 39 people, many of them foreigners, at a nightclub packed with New Year’s revellers, in an attack officials described as a terrorist act.

The gunman shot his way into the Reina nightclub at around 1.15am local time, just over an hour into the new year, killing a police officer and a civilian as he entered before opening fire at random inside

Some witnesses spoke of multiple attackers, but officials have not confirmed this.

 

“A manhunt for the terrorist is underway. Police have launched operations. We hope the attacker will be captured soon,” he told reporters.

Turkey has imposed a media blackout after the attack, although the restriction doesn’t extend to officials, BBC reported.

Australian embassy officials are working with Turkish authorities to determine if any Australians are victims of the nightclub attack.

 

 

The nightclub, one of Istanbul’s most iconic that is popular with locals and foreigners alike, overlooks the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia in the city’s cosmopolitan Ortakoy district.

Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the attacker had used a “long-range weapon” to “brutally and savagely” fire on people, apparently referring to some sort of assault rifle.

“One person first kills the police officer outside, and then a civilian,” the governor said. “Inside he rained bullets brutally, mercilessly over innocent people who were there just to celebrate the new year and have fun.”

 

People talk to medics in an ambulance near the scene of an attack in Istanbul. Photo: APThe Hurriyet newspaper cited witnesses as saying there were multiple attackers and that they shouted in Arabic.

 

Her husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack.

 

 

 

Her husband was not in serious condition despite his wounds.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting. The mass killing at the nightclub was at least the fourth major attack in Turkey in less than a month, raising questions about the ability of the government, a NATO member and critical regional ally of the United States, to counter an array of threats stemming from the war across Turkey’s border in Syria, as well as an escalating conflict with Kurdish militants inside Turkey.

 

An image, reportedly of one of the gunmen involved in the attack at the Istanbul nightclub.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would fight to the end against all forms of attack by terror groups and their backers.

“As a nation, we will fight to the end against not just the armed attacks of terror groups and the forces behind them, but also against their economic, political and social attacks,” Erdogan said in a written statement.

“They are trying to create chaos, demoralise our people, and destabilise our country with abominable attacks which target civilians … We will retain our cool-headedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games,” he said.

On the European side of the country’s capital, about 12km from Istanbul, the suburb of Ortakoy is an international travel destination known for its food stalls and vibrant night life. The area is a mix of stone, brick and wooden buildings along pedestrian lanes.

Mehmet Kocarslan, the club’s owner, told the Hurriyet.com.tr news site that there had been increased security at the club for the past 10 days after US intelligence officials shared information about the planned attack. He said the attackers used Kalashnikov rifles.

Television footage showed dozens of ambulances rushing to the scene, and people fleeing, some walking with difficulty arm in arm.

Footage from the scene showed at least six ambulances with flashing lights and civilians being escorted out. NTV said police had cordoned off the area and an operation to capture the assailant was ongoing.

An AP photographer says police cordoned off the area about three kilometres away from the nightclub and reported multiple ambulances passing by.

President Barack Obama expressed condolences on Saturday over the attack and directed his team to offer US help to Turkish authorities, the White House said.

“This afternoon the President was briefed by his national security team on the attack in Istanbul,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.

“The President expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted.”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, responded on Twitter, saying his thoughts were with Turkey after this “cowardly act of terrorism”.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish friends,” he added.

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus and others as street vendors, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted by several attacks in 2016 carried out by the Islamic State group or Kurdish rebels, killing more than 180 people.

Turkey is still recovering from a failed coup attempt that began July 15 in which at least 265 people were killed.

Although the coup effort sputtered in a matter of hours, Mr Erdogan responded with a sweeping, months-long crackdown targeting alleged dissidents across Turkish society.

In addition to arresting thousands of military personnel suspected of involvement in the coup, hundreds of thousands of civil servants, educational staff and journalists were purged.

The coup and the assassination of the Russian Ambassador Andrey G. Karlov in Ankara on December 19 raised concerns that the country’s security establishment had grown ineffective.

The turmoil also raised doubts about how well Turkey would be able to participate in international counter-terrorism efforts, especially with regard to the Islamic State.

DPA/Reuters/AP/New York Times/Washington Post


abc.net.au

39 dead in New Year ‘terror attack’ on Istanbul nightclub

 Sun 1 Jan 2017, 9:15pm

A gunman shot his way into an Istanbul nightclub packed with New Year’s revellers early on Sunday, killing at least 39 people and wounding almost 70 others in what the provincial Governor described as a terrorist attack.

Key points:

  • Istanbul city governor condemned the “terrorist attack” on the popular Reina nightclub
  • Around 500-600 people were thought to be in the club when the attack happened
  • The attacker was believed to have entered the premises dressed as Santa Claus, local media reported

The assailant shot a police officer and a civilian as he entered the Reina nightclub before opening fire at random inside.

“A terrorist with a long-range weapon… brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Governor Vasip Sahin told reporters at the scene.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the attacker was still at large and 69 people were being treated in hospitals following the shooting.

Mr Soylu said of the victims identified so far, 16 were foreign nationals. He did not provide any information on their countries.

In a statement, President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would fight to the end against all forms of attack by terror groups and their backers.

“As a nation, we will fight to the end against not just the armed attacks of terror groups and the forces behind them, but also against their economic, political and social attacks,” he said.

“They are trying to create chaos, demoralise our people, and destabilise our country with abominable attacks which target civilians … we will retain our cool-headedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games,” he said.

‘I had to lift several bodies from on top of me’

Around 500-600 people were thought to have been in the club when the attack happened at around 1:15am local time, broadcaster CNN Turk said.

The club lies on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in the Ortakoy district, and some jumped into the water to save themselves and were being rescued by police.

Police with riot gear and machine guns backed up by armoured vehicles blocked the area close to the Reina nightclub.

Witness Sinem Uyanik, whose husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack, told AP she saw several bodies inside the nightclub.

“Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me,” she said outside Istanbul’s Sisli Hospital.

“I had to lift several bodies from on top of me before I could get out.”

The attacker was believed to have entered the nightclub dressed as Santa Claus, private NTV television reported earlier.

Broadcaster CNN Turk initially said the attacker was thought still to be inside the building and that police special forces were preparing to raid it. NTV said the attacker’s whereabouts were unclear.

Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the club in Ortakoy, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus, and home to clubs, restaurants and art galleries.

DFAT determining if any Australians involved

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Australian embassy in Ankara was liaising with local authorities to determine if any Australians were caught up in the attack.

Reina is one of Istanbul’s best-known nightclubs, popular with locals and tourists alike.

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus and others as street vendors, Anadolu reported.

Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted by several attacks in 2016 carried out by the Islamic State (IS) group or Kurdish rebels, killing more than 180 people.

Turkey, part of the US-led coalition against IS, faces multiple security threats including spill-over from the war in neighbouring Syria.

It has seen repeated attacks and bombings blamed on IS as well as Kurdish militants in recent months.

US President Barack Obama “expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost”, and said assistance would be offered to Turkish authorities.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag vowed that his country would press ahead with its fight against violent groups.

“Turkey will continue its determined and effective combat to root out terror,” Mr Bozdag said on Twitter.

ABC/wires

Topics: terrorism, unrest-conflict-and-war, turkey

First posted about 11 hours agoSun 1 Jan 2017, 10:25am

Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul


abc.net.au

Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul

By Siobhan Fogarty

Updated 18 minutes ago

Thu 29 Dec 2016, 12:17pm

A former NRL player and a Bondi businessman have been linked to a drug ring after New South Wales Police recorded the biggest cocaine haul in Australia’s history.

Key points:

  • 1.1 tonnes of cocaine worth $360 million seized by AFP and NSW police
  • Two seizures of cocaine make the biggest haul of the drug in Australian history
  • 15 men arrested including a former NRL player and a Bondi businessman

The joint strike force between Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police drug squad arrested 15 men and seized about $360 million worth of cocaine.

Former Roosters player John Tobin is one of the accused smugglers, along with Bondi businessman Darren Mohr.

The criminal syndicate was allegedly using a trawler based at the Sydney Fish Market to meet a “mother ship” from South America to bring drugs into the country.

About 500 kilograms of the drug was seized on Christmas Day at Brooklyn on the central coast of New South Wales.

Police allege 600 kilograms was seized in Tahiti and 32 kilograms of heroin was found in Fiji with both loads destined for the market in Australia.

Acting Assistant Commissioner, Chris Sheehan, said the police operation had been running for almost three years and escalated with the arrests over the Christmas period.

“The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate,” he said.

“This is the largest cocaine seizure we have had in Australia.

“It posed an ongoing and continued threat to the Australian community and without the work of our police, would still be in action today.”

Tip-off from community led to bust

Assistant Police Commissioner, Mark Jenkins said a member of the community gave them a tip-off two and a half years ago that led to the cocaine haul.

“As a result, over one tonne of drugs has been prevented from reaching the streets of New South Wales and harming the community,” he said.

“That small piece of information has resulted in 15 arrests and a large seizure of drugs.”

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Video: Police seized 500kg worth of cocaine in NSW (ABC News)

Officers allege the group of men, aged from 29 to 63, are involved in the Australian criminal syndicate responsible for the attempted imports.

They have been charged with serious drug importation offences and eleven of the 15 men have appeared before Parramatta Local Court and were refused bail.

A 49-year-old man and a 63-year-old man are due to appear before Central Local Court today.

Two other men, a 33-year-old and 39-year-old are also expected to front Nowra Local Court today after they were arrested at Ulladulla yesterday.

Police said they were confident all alleged members of the criminal syndicate were in custody.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Video: Arrests made after $360m worth of cocaine seized (ABC News)

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

First posted about 4 hours agoThu 29 Dec 2016, 7:48am


smh.com.au

Police smash cocaine ring at Sydney Fish Market in Christmas Day raid

By Rachel Olding, Latika Bourke, Rachel Browne

A former rugby league first grade player, a Bondi entrepreneur and a several fishermen are among 15 men arrested on Christmas Day in a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring bust.

Police will allege the men were imported more than a tonne of cocaine via the iconic Sydney Fish Market and other NSW ports.

Australian Federal Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan described the alleged syndicate as “robust, resilient and determined”.

He told a packed Sydney press conference that the 15 arrested men were “determined to exploit some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”

The seizure of 500kg of cocaine in Sydney, 600kg of the drug in Tahiti and 32kg of heroin in Fiji make it the largest drug bust of its kind in Australia.

NSW Police State Crime Commander Mark Jenkins said all the drugs originated in South America before being transferred across the South Pacific by ship.

Several of the men were arrested on Christmas Day as they docked a shipping vessel named Dalrymple at the Sydney Fish Markets.

It’s alleged the boat was used to ferry drugs between NSW ports and a larger ship stationed out at sea that held drugs smuggled from Chile.

Operation Okesi, comprising officers from NSW Police, Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force, started over two-and-a-half-years after police received a “thread” of information.

Since then, five alleged importations by the sophisticated syndicate have been thwarted.

It includes the seizure of 32 kilograms of heroin by authorities in Fiji in December 2014 and the seizure of 606 kilograms of cocaine by authorities in Tahiti in March.

Officers then observed the Dalrymple depart the Sydney Fish Markets on December 3 and travel to the Central Coast. The vessel was monitored by Maritime Border Command and the NSW Police’s Marine Area Command.

On Christmas night, officers watched the crew launch a small one-man dinghy which allegedly travelled to Parlsey Bay at Brooklyn on the NSW Central Coast and met with two other men.

All three were arrested and about 500 kilograms of cocaine was seized from the dinghy.

Several other men were arrested on board the Dalrymple vessel as it docked at Sydney Fish Market on Christmas night.

A police source told Fairfax Media the syndicate thought they could take advantage of the festive season by striking on Christmas Day.

Authorities valued the total amount of cocaine seized at $360 million.

Among the men arrested is former Eastern Suburbs Roosters player John Roland Boyd Tobin, who played 125 matches as lock forward in the 1980s.

Bondi entrepreneur Darren John Mohr was also arrested. He lists his occupation as the owner Martini Motors and is also the former owner of the Bondi Rescue HQ cafe.

His Instagram profile shows a love of Harley Davidson motorbikes, Rolls Royce cars and being shirtless.

Police also arrested Reuben John Dawe, who lists his occupation as a maritime worker and commercial fisherman Joseph Pirrello, 63.

Other man arrested in the sting include Simon Peter Spero, 56, Graham Toa Toa, 42, Stuart Ayrton, 54, Jonathan Cooper, 29, Richard Lipton, 37, Frank D’Agostino, 54, and Benjamin Sara, 31.

They were all refused bail in Parramatta Bail Court on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Two other men, extradited from Tasmania and Queensland, will appear in Parramatta Bail Court on Thursday as well as two men arrested in the Nowra area.

Footage released by police show multiple men being arrested in the dark from on-board the Dalrymple fishing vessel.

One of the men shown with his hands tied behind his back is wearing only a pair of boxer shorts covered in cartoon pictures of crocodiles.

“This operation has been running for more than two-and-a-half years and culminated over the Christmas period,” a police statement reads.

The men were aged between 29 and 63 years old.  Police are due to address the media at 11am on Thursday.