Mitchell Pearce-Another NRL moron and deviant loser who can have no excuses

NRL star Pearce filmed simulating lewd act with dog on Australia Day
20:51 AEDT WED 27 JAN 2016

Mitchell Pearce was asked to leave the apartment after stimulating a sex act with a dog.
ABC licensed

New South Wales State of Origin player and Sydney Roosters captain Mitchell Pearce’s immediate playing future is in jeopardy after he was filmed in an apparent alcohol-fuelled incident on Australia Day.

Key points:

Mitchell Pearce filmed simulating lewd act with dog
Also tried to kiss girl before being asked to leave
NRL asks Sydney Roosters for report into incident
Grandstand’s Andrew Moore “sick to death of drunken bums”
A video showing Pearce engaging in a lewd act involving a dog has aired on the Nine Network.

Pearce, in a seemingly intoxicated state, can be seen in the video forcing an unwanted kiss on a female, who tries to reject his advances.

He then turns his attention to the woman’s dog, announcing: “I’ll f*** that dog, I don’t give a f***, I don’t have a sexuality.”

The 26-year-old, who was shirtless but wearing shorts, is then seen to simulate sex with the dog.

The woman tells him to stop but Pearce continues to simulate sex before the woman takes the dog away and tells him to leave.

The woman also suggests that Pearce urinated on her couch.

“Get out. Out. Out,” she is heard saying.

The NRL has asked the Roosters for a report into the incident after the club advised the league about the matter.

“The [NRL] integrity unit will work with the Roosters to ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately,” an NRL statement read.

The Roosters confirmed they would also launch their own investigation.

“The club will conduct an internal investigation and will be making no further comment at this time,” a statement read.

Grandstand’s Moore ‘sick to death of drunken bums’

ABC Grandstand’s senior rugby league commentator Andrew Moore said the sport had again been tarnished as a result of the latest incident involving Pearce.

“I’ve earned my living out of rugby league for many years,” he said.

If [this] is what drunken boys do, well, we’ve got a bigger problem across society than I ever imagined. It’s not what people do.

Grandstand NRL commentator Andrew Moore
“I’m sick to death of idiotic drunken bums ruining the reputation of this great sport, year in, year out. It is only one or two of them, it doesn’t matter.

“It is one or two too many constantly.”

Pearce, whose father Wayne is an Australian Rugby League commissioner and a former New South Wales State of Origin captain, has previously been involved in off-field incidents that made headlines.

He was fined $20,000 and stood down from an NRL match in 2014 following his role in an incident involving a female patron in a Kings Cross nightclub.

That incident also cost Pearce his spot in the Blues’ line-up for State of Origin I that year.

External Link: nrl tweet on pearce
Moore said Pearce had previously been warned to stay away from alcohol.

“He has had issues with the drink for far too long and won’t address it,” he said.

“His father is someone I’ve known for two decades or more, one of the ultimate cleanskins of rugby league and someone who is on the board of the ARL Commission.”

Moore said there was no excuse for Pearce’s behaviour.

“I’ve seen it on social media, ‘Isn’t this what drunken boys do?’ Well no, it’s not,” he said.

“And if it is what drunken boys do, well, we’ve got a bigger problem across society than I ever imagined.

“It’s not what people do.”

Should Pearce’s contract be terminated by the Roosters, it would not be the first occasion a club has severed ties with a player because of off-field incidents.

Canberra, the Roosters and Cronulla each parted ways with Todd Carney during his NRL career, with the Sharks sacking the playmaker in 2014 after a photo emerged on social media of him appearing to urinate into his mouth.

Joel Monaghan quit the Raiders before he could be sacked after a photo was published on Twitter of the former Australia and New South Wales representative simulating a lewd act with a dog in 2010

Michael Cardamone charged with murder of Victorian mother Karen Chetcuti

Karen Chetcuti’s neighbour Michael Cardamone charged with her murder at Whorouly

Update 11.43am 19/01/2016

Karen Chetcuti was incapacitated then murdered by her neighbour after she dropped into his house to pick up a punnet of tomatoes, Victorian police have alleged.

Key points:

  • Karen Chetcuti’s neighbour, Michael Cardamone, charged with her murder

  • Body believed to be of Ms Chetcuti found in scrubland

  • Ms Cetcuti allegedly killed when she visited Cardamone, 48, for tomatoes

Michael Cardamone, 48, was this morning charged with Ms Chetcuti’s murder at an out-of-sessions court hearing held at the Wangaratta police station about 1:30am.

He appeared again on Tuesday morning, where police laid another charge of breaching parole against him.

He was remanded in custody.

Ms Chetcuti, a 49-year-old mother of two, was reported missing after disappearing from the small town of Whorouly, near Wangaratta last Tuesday night.

Police search and rescue found a body believed to be that of Ms Chetcuti near Lake Buffalo on Monday afternoon.

The body was found in scrubland off a dirt track and is yet to be formally identified.

A post-mortem examination is being conducted.

Ms Chetcuti’s house shared a boundary with Cardamone’s property, the out-of-sessions court hearing was told.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sol Solomon told the hearing Ms Chetcuti visited Cardamone’s house on Tuesday, January 12 to get a punnet of tomatoes.

Police alleged Cardamone overpowered and incapacitated her, and murdered her somewhere between Whorouly and Dandongedale.

It was also alleged that Cardamone took Ms Chetcuti’s car and burnt it two days later.

The car was found on a bush track near Reform Lookout, not far from Myrtleford.

Cardamone said very little during the brief hearing, responding with his date of birth and address when requested.

He appeared in a white t-shirt, dark tracksuit pants and socks.

He declined to make a statement and said only that he was on prescription medication.

Bail justice Michael Guinane told the hearing the law in Victoria did not allow bail on a murder charge and the outcome of the hearing was fixed.

Chetcuti ‘closely involved’ in Whorouly community

Ms Chetcuti had worked at the Wangaratta Council for 20 years.

The council’s chief executive said staff had been offered counselling.

Brendan McGrath said she was considered a close friend and valued colleague by all who worked there.

“We’re all very shocked and saddened, and we feel for her children and her former husband who was an employee of ours formerly, and the broader Whorouly community, who she’s been very closely involved with,” he said.


Update 5.36pm 18/01/2016

The body of missing mother of two, Karen Chetcuti, is found near Lake Buffalo in Victoria’s north-east.

Video of the sad news  Karen Chetcuti-Body Found

Police have found the body of missing mother of two Karen Chetcuti near Lake Buffalo in the state’s north-east.

Ms Chetcuti, 49, from Whorouly, near Wangaratta, had not been seen since she was reported missing on Wednesday after failing to show up to work at the Wangaratta council.
Search efforts focused around Lake Buffalo, south of Myrtleford, on Monday. The body was found in the scrub-land at the Lake Buffalo weir wall off Croppers Creek Road about 1.35pm.

CCTV footage of Karen Chetcuti leaving ALDI in Wangaratta on Tuesday.CCTV footage of Karen Chetcuti leaving ALDI in Wangaratta on Tuesday.

Police are yet to formally identify the body but it is believed to be Ms Chetcuti.

Police arrested Ms Chetcuti’s neighbour Michael Cardamone, 48, on Sunday in connection with the suspicious disappearance.

Though Mr Cardamone told Fairfax Media on Friday he was the last to see her, he denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Victoria Police divers search the the Ovens River for Karen Chetcuti.Victoria Police divers search the the Ovens River for Karen Chetcuti. Photo: Mark Jesser

Mr Cardamone is assisting police with inquiries. No charges have been laid.

In a bizarre twist, Fairfax Media understands Mr Cardamone was arrested after he phoned relatives on Saturday claiming he had been kidnapped and was in the boot of a car.

Police, who were notified of the call by his solicitor, located the car in Melbourne, eventually intercepting it in Ringwood after Mr Cardamone allegedly evaded police.

SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday.

SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday. Photo: James Wiltshire


Police, along with SES crews including dive teams, have been searching the areas of Whorouly and Myrtleford trying to find any sign of Ms Chetcuti since her disappearance.

The last confirmed sighting of Ms Chetcuti was at the Whorouly Hotel on Tuesday at 7.20pm.


Ms Chetcuti’s burnt-out red Citroen was found found on a dirt road near Myrtleford at 5.15am on Thursday.

When police searched her home they found the lights on and her phone and handbag left behind.

Ms Chetcuti lived alone at the Whorouly property, sharing custody of her two teenage children with her former husband.

Speaking before her body was found, friend Greg Haysom said Ms Chetcuti was a “major part of Whorouly” and recently helped raise over $20,000 for the football club change rooms.

Mr Haysom described Ms Chetcuti as a “great mother” to her two children.

“I don’t think you will find anyone who would say a bad word about her, she has the most infectious smile,” he said.

scumbag rapist neighbour has been arrested over her disappearance, police divers searching wells.

MAJOR UPDATE 11.50AM 17/01/16

A 48-year-old man has been taken into custody by Victorian police investigating the disappearance of Karen Chetcuti.

The 49-year-old mother of two was last seen in her home town of Whorouly – in Victoria’s north east – on Tuesday night.

Her burnt-out car was found 20 kilometres away on Thursday.

Police have declared a crime scene at the property of her neighbour, Michael Cardamone.

Police have declared a crime scene at the property of her neighbour, Michael Cardamone.

Police have declared a crime scene at the property of her neighbour, Michael Cardamone.

He has previously denied any involvement in Ms Chetcuti’s disappearance.

Police divers are searching wells on the missing mother’s property.

Ms Chetcuti was reported missing by a concerned friend on Wednesday at 9:30pm after she did not show up for work that day.

Following her disappearance, police found Ms Chetcuti’s purse and handbag at her home, but her mobile phone was missing.

Earlier this week, Detective Sergeant Sol Soloman from the homicide squad said her disappearance was out of character.

“She is described by people who know her as being very punctual, efficient, she’s very highly thought of.

“Local police went to her home and she wasn’t there. Her car was missing but it was discovered that there were lights on in the house and her handbag and purse were still there.”

Police on the property of Karen Chetcuti on Sunday morning, where divers are searching wells. Photo: Police on the property of Karen Chetcuti on Sunday morning, where divers are searching wells. (Supplied: Reece Rayner)

Convicted rapist says he was the last to see Whorouly mother Karen Chetcuti before she disappeared

January 16, 2016 – 3:43PM

Tammy Mills, Tom Cowie

Police arrive at Karen Chetcuti's house on Saturday.Police arrive at Karen Chetcuti’s house on Saturday. Photo: James Wiltshire

A convicted rapist says he was the last person to see a mother-of-two before she disappeared from the small Victorian country town of Whorouly.

Michael Cardamone told Fairfax Media he was not involved with Karen Chetcuti’s disappearance, now the subject of a homicide squad investigation, but he was the last person to see her before she went missing.

“I don’t know what’s happened,” he said.

Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti.Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti. Photo: Facebook

Mr Cardamone, who was released from jail last year after serving nine years for rape, lives around the corner from the 49-year-old mother in the town of Whorouly, near Wangaratta.

Their properties share a boundary.

Victoria Police say the last confirmed sighting of Ms Chetcuti was leaving the Whorouly Hotel at 7.20pm on Tuesday.

Police released this photo of Karen Chetcuti's car.Police released this photo of Karen Chetcuti’s car.

But Mr Cardamone said he had invited Ms Chetcuti to his home to collect some tomatoes that he had grown and she was at his property from 8.40pm to 9.15pm that night.

“When she left here, she took off towards home,” he said.

He said the container of tomatoes she had taken was later found on a bench in Ms Chetcuti’s home.

Police and SES search Karen Chetcuti's property at Whorouly.Police and SES search Karen Chetcuti’s property at Whorouly. Photo: Blair Thomson

Mr Cardamone was also interviewed by other media on Friday, telling them he had spoken to Ms Chetcuti over the fence at 9.15pm on Tuesday after he had been picking tomatoes.

Police searched parts of Mr Cardamone’s property on Friday and he said detectives had questioned him.

“I’m stressed out to the max, I haven’t been sleeping,” he said.

Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti.

Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti. Photo: Facebook

Mr Cardamone said he was being targeted because of his “incarceration”. He said investigators were welcome to search his home.

He said a white car had been seen leaving Ms Chetcuti’s home on Tuesday night, with her red car following behind. Her car was found burnt-out in Myrtleford, about 20 kilometres away, at 5.15am on Thursday.

Mr Cardamone said he saw Ms Chetcuti’s red car parked in a side street near the Target store in Myrtleford sometime before it was set alight.

It is understood another neighbour saw a white car leaving the Ms Chetcuti’s home on Tuesday night, but it is unclear as to what time.

Police said they were speaking to a number of people in relation to the disappearance.

Homicide Squad investigators visited Mr Cardamone’s home shortly after 2pm on Friday.

Three detectives spent about five minutes at the home, knocked on his door and checked around the back and garage.

There was no sign of Mr Cardamone, though his white ute was parked outside. Detectives would not say why they were there.

Earlier on Friday, homicide squad detective Sergeant Sol Solomon said suspicions were raised about the disappearance when Ms Chetcuti did not turn up for work on Wednesday.

He said police checked her home and found the lights had been left on, and her handbag and wallet were still there. At that stage, her car was still missing.

“It certainly paints a picture of the involvement of a second party in her disappearance,” he said.

“There was no sign of any struggle or disturbance having occurred there.”

Ms Chetcuti, the mother of two teenagers, is well-known and liked in the Whorouly and Wangaratta area.

She had moved from Melbourne to Whorouly with her husband, who she is now separated from, to run the pub about two decades ago. The pair were publicans for about five years before Ms Chetcuti began working for the City of Wangaratta, where she had most recently been a records coordinator.

“Karen is a popular and valued member of staff,” City of Wangaratta chief executive officer Brendan McGrath said.

Friend Greg Haysom said Ms Chetcuti, who serves on a number of committees, is a “major part of Whorouly” and recently helped raise over $20,000 for the football club change rooms.

Mr Haysom described Ms Chetcuti as a “great mother” to her two children.

“I don’t think you will find anyone who would say a bad word about her, she has the most infectious smile,” he said.

Detectives continued to search Whorouly and Myrtleford on Saturday.

Police focused on a number of areas of interest, including the properties behind Ms Chetcuti’s.

The area is mostly sparse farmland and long grass, but officers did go through a junkyard of old cars a couple of kilometres behind the missing woman’s property.

There were also line searches in long grass adjacent to where her burnt-out car was found on Thursday morning.

The car, now at Wangaratta police station, was found engulfed in flames on Halls Road, which becomes a dirt road leading up to a lookout in Myrtleford, about 20 kilometres from Whorouly.

The road runs next to state forest, in which specialist police on dirt bikes went into on Friday morning.

On the other side of it is paddocks, which police and SES focused on for their line searches. Houses are nearby.

Police released new photos of Ms Chetcuti and her car in a further attempt to garner information as to her whereabouts.

Detectives would like to speak to anyone who saw Ms Chetcuti or her red 2004 Citroen Sara, with registration XWC 149, any time after 7.20pm on Tuesday.

They would also like to speak to anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area.

Detectives said they have also narrowed down Ms Chetcuti’s movements on Tuesday, releasing security vision of her at Aldi in Wangaratta between 5.12pm and 5.17pm before she went to the Whorouly Hotel for a drink.

Detectives said on Friday she had not been seen or heard from since she left the hotel at 7.20pm.

This is despite her neighbour Mr Cardamone claiming Ms Chetcuti had been at his property between 8.40pm and 9.15pm.

Investigators urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via

Hunt continues for missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti

January 17, 2016 – 6:51AM

Tammy Mills, Chris Vedelago

The search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti is entering its fourth day, with the police focus still squarely on the Whorouly and Myrtleford areas.

Police arrive at the house of the man who says he was the last person to see Karen Chetcuti the day she went missing.Police arrive at the house of the man who says he was the last person to see Karen Chetcuti the day she went missing. Photo: James Wiltshire

The investigation into the disappearance of a Whorouly woman took a turn on Saturday night, with police now searching for a convicted rapist who said he was the last to see her before she disappeared.

Homicide Squad detectives visited the home of Michael Cardamone, whose property borders missing woman Karen Chetcuti’s​, twice on Saturday to speak with him, but he was not home. It is understood police could not locate him.

They have refused to comment on whether Mr Cardamone, a convicted rapist, is a person of interest, though Mr Cardamone himself told Fairfax Media and News Corp in bizarre interviews on Friday that he believed he was being targeted because of his prior offence.

Police arrive and door knock at the house of the man who gave Karen Chetcuti tomatoes on the day she went missing. James WiltshirePolice arrive and door knock at the house of the man who gave Karen Chetcuti tomatoes on the day she went missing. James Wiltshire Photo: James Wiltshire

In both interviews, conducted separately, he was adamant he had nothing to do with her disappearance and said he was the last to see her. He told Fairfax Media the well-known and well-liked 49-year-old had come over to his house to collect tomatoes, which he grows. She stayed there, he said, from 8.40pm to 9.15pm on Tuesday.

The search for Mrs Chetcuti is entering its fourth day, with the police focus still squarely on the Whorouly and Myrtleford areas.

The last confirmed sighting police have of Ms Chetcuti was leaving the Whorouly Hotel at 7.20pm on Tuesday.

SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday.SES begin another search for missing woman Karen Chetcuti late on Saturday. Photo: James Wiltshire

State Emergency Service personnel searched Mr Cardamone’s farm on Friday and he said police had spoken to him.

There was no sign of Mr Cardamone on Saturday and his white ute remained in the driveway.

Fairfax Media was told on Saturday there may be at least three suspects being investigated over the disappearance.

Meanwhile, the SES conducted line searches in the paddocks that surround Ms Chetcuti’s home, as well as behind the Whorouly Hotel.

Police also searched old cars in a junkyard, situated about two kilometres behind Ms Chetcuti’s.

Line searches were also happening in paddocks next to the road where the mother-of-two’s car was found burnt out 20 kilometres away in Myrtleford.

The red Citroen was dumped and set alight in Halls Road, which becomes a dirt road leading up to a lookout close to the town.

Police released further details and a photo of the 2004 Citroen Xsara, registration plate XWC 149, on Saturday in the hope it would elicit more information.

“Detectives are now piecing together Karen’s movements and are requesting public assistance,” Victoria Police said in a statement.

They confirmed an earlier sighting of Ms Chetcuti, at the Aldi supermarket in Wangaratta between 5.12pm and 5.17pm on Tuesday.

Police said she was then at the Whorouly Hotel until 7.20pm.

Suspicions were raised when she did not turn up for work at the City of Wangaratta on Wednesday, where she most recently worked as its records coordinator.

A friend reported her missing later on Wednesday before her burnt-out car was found at 5.15am on Thursday. That, plus the state her house was left in – undisturbed, but with her car gone, handbag still there and lights still on – triggered a homicide squad investigation.

“It certainly paints a picture of the involvement of a second party in her disappearance,” Detective Senior Sergeant Sol Solomon said in an interview on Friday.

“There was no sign of any struggle or disturbance having occurred there.”

Ms Chetcuti is the mother of two teenagers, is well-known in the Whorouly and Wangaratta area.

She had moved from Melbourne to Whorouly with her husband, who she is now separated from, to run the pub about two decades ago. The pair were publicans for about five years before Ms Chetcuti began working for the City of Wangaratta.

Investigators urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via


Police question convicted rapist who was the last person to see missing mum-of-two Karen Chetcuti… after her burnt-out car was found in bushland

  • Wangaratta, VIC mother-of-two Karen Chetcuti was last seen on Tuesday
  • Police questioned her neighbour, convicted rapist Michael Cardamone
  • He was the last person to see the 49-year-old Wangaratta council manager
  • Ms Chetcuti’s car was found burnt out on Thursday 20km from her home
  • Homicide detectives believe she is the victim of foul play

A convicted rapist who claims he is the last person to see missing Karen Chetcuti has been questioned as police reveal they hold grave fears for the mother-of-two.

Michael Cardomone, who was released from jail in July 2015 after serving nine years for rape, denied any part in the disappearance of Ms Chetcuti, from Whorouly, Victoria.

His property was searched and he questioned by detectives about Ms Chetcuti, who was last seen on Tuesday at around 7.20pm.

Mr Cardomone said he had invited the City of Wangaratta manager to pick tomatoes about 9pm on Tuesday, The Age reported.

Convicted rapist Michael Cardomone claims he is the last person to have seen missing mother-of-two Karen Chetcuti (pictured) but denies he had anything to do with her disappearane

Ms Chetcuti was last seen on Tuesday evening, when she was captured on CCTV at a supermarket and attended a pub near her home. Convicted rapist Michael Cardomone also says he saw her later that night

Ms Chetcuti's burnt out car, where it was found near Myrtleford, VIC, about 20km from her home

The scene where Ms Chetcuti's car was found burnt out, near Myrtleford, 20km from Whorouly

Ms Chetcuti's burnt out car was found on Thursday morning

Police released this image of Ms Chetcuti car, as it appeared before it was burnt out

Homicide Squad detectives, the Missing Persons Squad, sniffer dogs and local SES members were searching bushland near where her car was found

Homicide Squad detectives, the Missing Persons Squad, sniffer dogs and local SES members were searching bushland near where her car was found

Earlier that evening, Ms Chetcuti left the Whorouly Hotel in Whorouly, south of Wangaratta, at around 7.30pm.

Mr Cardomone and another neighbour are both believed to have seen a white car leaving Ms Chetcuti’s property on Tuesday evening, with her red sedan following.

A concerned friend reported her missing on Wednesday after she did not turn up for work, and her car was found burnt out 20km away from Whorouly on Halls Road, Myrtleford on Thursday morning.

Police fear Ms Chetcuti may be a victim of foul play. They continued the search for her on Saturday morning

Ms Chetcuti, 49, is a mother to two teenagers and a manager at the City of Wanagaratta

Mr Cardomone said he saw her car parked in the town ‘sometime’ before it was torched, The Age reported.

‘That’s totally alarming to us – the vehicle being burnt in that fashion,’ Detective Sergeant Sol Solomon told 3AW on Friday.

‘(She) didn’t turn up for work on Wednesday, which is highly out of character for her.

‘She’s well known as being highly punctual, highly thought of and very efficient in her life.’

Homicide detectives suspect she was the victim of foul play.

‘I strongly suspect that there is someone, or some others involved,’ Detective Sergeant Sol Solomon told reporters on Friday.

‘I really hope she’s still alive, she could be still alive, but the longer it goes, the more grave the situation becomes,’ he said.

Det Sgt Solomon said what was found at Ms Chetcuti's home - lights on, her purse and handbag left behind, but no mobile phone to be found - was 'a situation that appeared out of order'

On the evening she was reported as last being seen, she went to the Whorouly Hotel

Ms Chetcuti left the hotel about 7.30pm on Tuesday evening. Her neighbour, convicted rapist Michael Cardomone, claims he saw her later that evening, about 9pm

CCTV footage of Ms Chetcuti at a supermarket at 5pm on Tuesday shows her wearing a cream or yellow tank top and a dark skirt.

Ms Chetcuti is 175cm tall, of a medium build, with dark brown shoulder-length hair.

Her two children, aged 14 and 15, are staying with their father, who is separated from their mother.

Police have been providing support to the family.

Det Sgt Solomon said there was no suggestion the father was involved in the disappearance.

Homicide Squad detectives, the Missing Persons Squad, sniffer dogs and local SES members were searching bushland near where her car was found, 50km from Wangaratta.

The search for Ms Chetcuti, who left her house with the lights on and bag and purse at home – but not her mobile phone – resumed at first light on Saturday.

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia Saturday’s search was focusing on Whorouly, Ms Chetcuti’s home town.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw Karen or her red 2004 Citroen Sara, registration XWC 149, any time after 7.20pm on Tuesday.

They also want to speak to anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area.

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia Saturday's search was focusing on Whorouly, Ms Chetcuti's home town

Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia Saturday’s search was focusing on Whorouly, Ms Chetcuti’s home town

CCTV footage of Ms Chetcuti at a supermarket at 5pm on Tuesday shows her wearing a cream or yellow tank top and a dark skirt


  • Mother of two Karen Chetcuti is last seen leaving the Whorouly Hotel at 7.20pm on Tuesday
  • Ms Chetcuti is reported missing by a concerned friend at 9.30pm last Wednesday, and the search begins
  • Ms Chetcuti’s car is discovered burnt out 20 kilometres from her home, in Myrtleford, on Thursday morning
  • Neighbour Michael Cardamone says he was the last to see Ms Chetcuti, but denied any involvement in her disappearance.
  • Detectives visit Michael Cardamone’s home for questioning on Saturday, but he was not there
  • Police receive a report Michael Cardamone had been kidnapped on Saturday afternoon
  • Patrolling police find Michael Cardamone in a vehicle on Punt Road, St Kilda before 5am Sunday. He was pursued by the police Air Wing until he pulled over and arrested in Ringwood around 6am
  • Police search Michael Cardamone’s home on Sunday and declare the property a crime scene. Victoria Police divers in the Ovens River as part of the search
  • The body of Ms Chetcuti has been found at Lake Buffalo

Paris attacks: Scenes of devastation in the French capital

It is wake up time people. Have the media laws kept you just that little bit away from the slaughter, the suicide bombings and massacre of innocent folks going about their day?
WELL… BE WARNED I AM POSTING AN EXTREMELY DISTURBING IMAGE OF THE CONCERT HALL BECAUSE I CAN! I hope the BEST bands in the WORLD have the guts to play in this hall and not for rich celeb types either. Maybe the orphans and widows etc???
HOW ABOUT A QUICK COFFEE AND CAKE? see that a bit further down…THE AMAZING thing is folks are queuing up to have a coffee there since it happened.
Dying to see a band

Dying to see a band

+ Add New Category

La Belle Equipe

La Belle Equipe

Related Story: As it happened: At least 120 people killed in multiple Paris attacks

Related Story: Coordinated terror attacks leave France in shock
Related Story: Information for paris bombing map

About 120 people have been killed in multiple terrorist attacks in the French capital, including about 100 who were taken hostage at a rock concert, according to Paris city officials.

Here is a collection of images and footage from Paris as the situation unfolds.

Paris attacks: Weapons seized during pre-dawn raids, French PM warns more attacks being planned

French police seized “an arsenal” of weapons during dozens of pre-dawn raids against Islamist suspects in the early hours of Monday (local time), as prime minister Manuel Valls warned terrorists were planning more attacks in the wake of Friday night’s atrocities in Paris.

The raids focused particularly on the Lyon area, where police made five arrests and seized a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, bulletproof vests and handguns.

Mr Valls said authorities have conducted at least 150 house searches in cities around France since the attacks.

Earlier reports had said pre-dawn police operations were carried out in the Paris suburb of Bobigny as well as in Jeumont, close to the French border with Belgium, and in the southern city of Toulouse.

Thirteen raids were carried out around the south-eastern French city of Lyon, a local police source said.

They led to five arrests and the seizure of “an arsenal of weapons”, including a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, bulletproof vests, handguns and combat gear, the source said.

French media have reported at least six people were arrested in another raid in the Alpine city of Grenoble.

Mr Valls said terrorism could hit again in “in days or weeks to come” and said the attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people, were “planned in Syria”.

He said French intelligence services had prevented several attacks since the summer and police knew other attacks were being prepared in France as well as in the rest of Europe.

“We are making use of the legal framework of the state of emergency to question people who are part of the radical jihadist movement … and all those who advocate hate of the republic,” he said.

“We know that operations were being prepared and are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries too.”

On Sunday night (local time) French jets launched extensive air strikes on what the government in Paris said were Islamic State targets in the terrorist movement’s stronghold Raqqa.

Prosecutors earlier revealed a growing Belgian connection to the Paris attacks, with officials conceding a poor district in Brussels with past links to international terrorism is a “gigantic problem” and a hotbed for extremism.

A manhunt is also underway for Salah Abdeslam, a Belgium-born man identified as the only surviving terrorist from the attacks.

Seven UK terror attacks ‘stopped’ in last six months: Cameron

British prime minister David Cameron said UK security services had foiled about seven terror attacks since June.

“Our security and intelligence services have stopped something like seven attacks in the last six months, albeit attacks planned on a smaller scale [than Paris attacks],” he told BBC Radio 4.

“We have been aware of these cells operating in Syria that are radicalising people in our own countries, potentially sending people back to carry out attacks.

“It was the sort of thing we were warned about.”

In response to the Paris attacks, Mr Cameron said he wanted Britain to join the fight in Syria to carry out air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants.

He will still need to convince more lawmakers to launch any action and will take a proposal to MPs soon.

Mr Cameron said Britain was engaged in a “generational struggle” against extremism and that he has boosted funding for security services in direct response to the threat posed by IS.

He also said there were “hopeful signs” from Saturday’s talks in Vienna on Syria that progress was being made on how to deal with the IS.

“You can’t deal with so-called Islamic State unless you get a political settlement in Syria that enables you then to permanently degrade and destroy that organisation,” he said.


Paris attacks: What we know so far

A series of coordinated terrorist attacks ripped through Paris shortly after 9pm on Friday November 13. Here is what we know so far.

What we know about the attacks

What we know about the attackers

  • At least eight attackers were involved, operating in three separate groups.
  • Seven of them died, including six who detonated vests laden with explosives.
  • An international manhunt is underway for Belgian-born Salah Abdeslam, who is believed to be the eighth attacker.
    • Abdeslam, 26, was questioned and released near the Belgian border soon after the attacks.
    • One of his brothers, Ibrahim Abdeslam, was involved in the attacks; he died after detonating his suicide vest on Boulevard Voltaire.
    • Another brother, Mohamed Abdeslam, was arrested in Brussels.
  • Another attacker was named as Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, who was identified from a severed finger at the Bataclan concert hall.
  • Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in response to insults of Islam’s prophet and air strikes in IS territory.

What we know about the investigation

What we know about France’s response

  • French president Francois Hollande told the French people “we are going to fight and our fight will be merciless”.
  • France launched air strikes against IS militants in Syria.

    Paris attacks: Bataclan and other assaults leave many dead – BBC News

     People could be seen escaping from the Bataclan concert hall shortly after a series of explosions

    France has declared a national state of emergency and tightened borders after at least 128 people were killed in a night of gun and bomb attacks in Paris.

    Eighty people were reported killed after gunmen burst into the Bataclan concert hall and took hostages before security forces stormed the hall.

    People were shot dead at restaurants and bars at five other sites in Paris. At least 180 people were injured.

    These are the deadliest attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.

    French President Francois Hollande, visibly shaken, called Friday night’s almost simultaneous attacks “a horror” and vowed to wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism.

    Paris saw three days of attacks in early January, when Islamist gunmen murdered 18 people after attacking satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman on patrol.

    Live: Follow the latest developments here

    In pictures: Paris shootings

    Eyewitness accounts from the scene

    The attack on the 1,500-seat Bataclan hall was by far the deadliest of Friday night’s attacks. Gunmen opened fire on concert-goers watching US rock group Eagles of Death Metal. The event had been sold out.

    “At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood,” Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, told Agence France Presse.

    Speaking outside the Bataclan concert hall President Hollande said the attacks were “an abomination and a barbaric act”

    “They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.”

    He said the gunmen took 20 hostages, and he heard one of them tell their captives: “It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria”.

    Within an hour, security forces had stormed the concert hall and all four attackers there were dead. Three had blown themselves up and a fourth was shot dead by police.

    Attack sites:

    La Belle Equipe, 92 rue de Charonne, 11th district – at least 19 dead in gun attacks

    Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant at rue Alibert, 10th district – at least 12 dead in gun attacks

    La Casa Nostra restaurant, 92 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 11th district – at least 5 dead in gun attacks

    Stade de France, St Denis, just north of Paris – explosions heard outside venue, three attackers dead

    Bataclan concert venue, 50 boulevard Voltaire, 11th district – stormed by several gunmen, at least 80 dead

    map of attack sites

    The attacks took place at six sites across Paris, mainly in the centre of the city

    What we know

    #Paris: Power, horror, and lies

    Meanwhile, not far from the Place de la Republique and the Place de la Bastille, three busy restaurants and a bar were targeted by gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs.

    Around 40 people were killed as customers were singled out at venues including a pizza restaurant and a Cambodian restaurant, Le Petit Cambodge.

    “We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” Pierre Montfort, a resident living close to Le Petit Cambodge said.

    Media captionAmateur footage captured the panic at the Stade de France in Paris, following a reported suicide blast

    The other target was the Stade de France, on the northern fringe of Paris, where President Hollande and 80,000 other spectators were watching a friendly international between France and Germany, with a TV audience of millions more.

    The president was whisked to safety after the first of at least two explosions just outside the venue to convene an emergency cabinet meeting. Three attackers were reportedly killed there.

    As the extent of the bloodshed became clear, Mr Hollande went on national TV to announce a state of emergency for the first time in France since 2005. The decree enables the authorities to close public places and impose curfews and restrictions on the movement of traffic and people.

     Ben Grant: “There were a lot of dead people… it was horrific”

    Paris residents have been asked to stay indoors and about 1,500 military personnel are being deployed across the city.

    All schools, museums, libraries, gyms, swimming pools and markets will be shut on Saturday as well as Disneyland Paris. All sporting fixtures in the affected area of Paris have also been cancelled, AFP reports.

    Police believe all of the gunmen are dead – seven killed themselves with explosives vests and one was shot dead by the security forces – but it is unclear if any accomplices are still on the run.

    US President Barack Obama spoke of “an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians”.

    UK PM David Cameron said he was shocked and pledged to do “whatever we can to help”.

    The Vatican called it “an attack on peace for all humanity” and said “a decisive, supportive response” was needed “on the part of all of us as we counter the spread of homicidal hatred in all its forms”.

    Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany  

    Spectators flooded the pitch of the Stade de France after the France v Germany football match as news of the attacks spread
    Rescuers evacuate people following an attack in the 10th arrondissement of the French capital Paris  

    Rescuers evacuate people following one of the attacks
    General view of the scene with rescue service personnel  

    Witnesses have been speaking of “carnage”

    Analysis: BBC’s Europe correspondent Damian Grammaticas

    It’s just 10 months since Paris was the scene of multiple terrorist attacks, first the massacre of staff at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and then a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket.

    What happened in Paris on Friday night is exactly what Europe’s security services have long feared, and tried to foil. Simultaneous, rolling attacks, with automatic weapons and suicide bombers in the heart of a major European city, targeting multiple, crowded public locations.

    The tactics have been used before, in Mumbai and elsewhere. But how they’ve come to Europe is one of many questions that will have to be answered.

    Were the attackers French citizens? If so, how they were radicalised, armed and organised – was it in France, in Syria, and by whom? Why weren’t they detected? Is France, after two major attacks this year, uniquely vulnerable or does the carnage in Paris mean all of Europe faces new threats to our public places and events? And if a Syrian link is proven, will France recoil from that conflict or will it redouble its commitment to the fight against radical groups there?

    Are you in the area? Have you been affected by what has been happening? Do you have any information you can share? If it is safe to do so, you can get in touch by emailing

    Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

    • WhatsApp: +44 7525 900971
    • Send pictures/video to
    • Upload your pictures / video here
    • Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
    • Send an SMS or MMS to +44 7624 800 100

      Paris attackers most likely backed and trained by Islamic State in Iraq or Syria, says security expert

      Posted about an hour ago

      A security expert says it is “extremely unlikely” that the eight men who carried out the Paris attacks could have done so without military training in Iraq or Syria.

      The latest reports out of France suggest there were three teams involved in the weekend’s attacks that left 129 people dead.

      Neil Fergus, the chief executive of the security consultancy Intelligent Risk Group, said it appeared the terrorists had a significant support team.

      “There’s no doubt that they… certainly had accomplices that had done reconnoitring of those sites, and that means they had logisticians, transport people, they undoubtedly had a safe house, or indeed, multiple safe houses, people who procured the motor vehicles,” he said.

      “They had to have transported weapons, not just side-arms of course.

      “We know that they had Kalashnikovs, AK-47 long-arms, explosives, TATP explosives themselves have to be transported carefully and of course they were constructed into suicide vests or belts either before being sent to France, or Belgium and then to France, or in France.”

      Mr Fergus is certain the terrorists were trained by Islamic State in the Middle East, either in Iraq or Syria.

      “There have been improvised training camps in France that the French authorities have detected before, but this type of operation, these types of activities in which these eight perpetrators were involved evidence a great deal more sophistication in terms of training and experience,” he said.

      “For example we have eyewitness accounts of the way that they went about their evil business in the theatre, with one person providing very professional cover of the main assailant as he systematically executed people in that theatre.”

      He said the type of operation suggested a great deal of sophistication in terms of training and experience.

      What modus operandi was used to be able to plan and execute this operation in this way? It has implications for (Australia), and we need to study it carefully.

      Neil Fergus, chief executive of the Intelligent Risk Group

      “It’s not ad hoc training in a forest firing at some targets.

      “That’s people who have gone through proper military training, and indeed, as I said before, almost certainly, to do that sort of callous cold-blooded operation, they have been blooded in the fields of Syria or northern Iraq.”

      Mr Fergus said it was impossible to be certain, but knowing the very hierarchical, compartmentalised structure of IS, the operation was almost certainly authorised by Islamic State’s senior leadership group in the Middle East.

      “It would be almost inconceivable to think that a local cell would be able to gather all of the resources and capabilities, some of which are clearly from offshore, outside of France, to put this together,” he said.

      Security lessons for Australia

      Mr Fergus said the attack’s success pointed to a failure of intelligence in France.

      “What is incredible is that an attack, or a set of attacks of this nature and this complexity, were planned and executed without intelligence services in the region, or indeed in Europe, getting apparently any inkling, any indication that such a scale of operation would be in prospect,” he said.

      “The more people that are involved in an operation, the more likely that intelligence services will detect something is afoot.”

      Mr Fergus said there were security lessons Australia can learn from the attack.

      “I have no doubt that the senior security authorities in Australia, including Duncan Lewis, director-general of ASIO, will be keenly looking to French liaisons to understand their post-event analyses, particularly on whether there had been intelligence that had been missed, or indeed whether the perpetrators have exercised a heightened level of security to such an extent that they did slip under the radar.

      “And that has some implications not just for Australia but for the rest of the civilised world.

      “What modus operandi was used to be able to plan and execute this operation in this way?

      “It has implications for us, and we need to study it carefully.”

      Topics: terrorism, unrest-conflict-and-war, security-intelligence, defence-and-national-security, france, syrian-arab-republic, iraq

Penny Bailey death: Stephen Bailey charged with murder of his mother

This weavel “Allegedly”killed his mum for reasons unknown to anyone so far…The one and only suspect has been caught,What a little snivelling dog this bloke was…Tragic for the family although I am certain they have found the answers they needed quickly.

Stephen Bailey has been charged with the murder of his mother, Penny Bailey, whose body was found in bushland on Thursday night.

Ms Bailey was last seen at her Mont Albert home on Sunday and reported missing by her family two days later.

Investigators found her body near the Mullum Mullum Creek in Donvale two days later.

Bailey was arrested on Thursday before his mother’s body was located.

Victoria Police said a 34-year-old Mont Albert man had been charged with one count of murder.

He will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court later today.

Ms Bailey is the daughter of Laurie Kerr, who played 149 games for Carlton Football Club in the 1950s and was named in the club’s team of the century.

He later founded public relations company International Public Relations.

Her mother Vivienne Kerr is currently the number one female ticket holder at the Blues, while her sister Judy Mullen is the president of the Women of Carlton coterie group.

Stephen Bailey played football for Box Hill in the VFL, and West Adelaide and Norwood in the SANFL.

In a statement, Ms Bailey’s family said she would be remembered for her “warm heart”.

“The Kerr family would like to publicly express its gratitude for the outpouring of support it has received since Penny’s disappearance,” it said.

“Penny was a beautiful woman and mother of three children. She will be remembered for her caring nature, warm heart and love of family.

“The Kerr family is large. Vivienne and Laurie Kerr had nine children – there are 34 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.

“The entire family is focused on providing Penny’s daughters, Belinda and Shannon with comfort at this time.

“We would also like to thank the Victoria Police for their professionalism and the caring and sensitive manner in which they conducted their investigations.”


Penny Bailey body found as son Stephen arrested for her suspicious disappearance

Missing mother
 THE son of a woman found dead in Donvale last night has been charged with her murder.

Stephen Bailey, 34, was arrested after his mother Penny Bailey went missing from their Mont Albert home on Wednesday.

He was charged with murder this afternoon.

It comes as Carlton great Stephen Kernahan says the club is in shock over the death of Ms Bailey, who is the daughter of former Blues footballer Laurie Kerr.

Kernahan’s tribute came as it emerged Stephen Bailey was a best-and-fairest winner at VFL club Box Hill Hawks and a prominent player in the SANFL.

A body believed to be that of Ms Bailey was found in bushland near Mullum Mullum Creek in Donvale about 7.10pm yesterday, 24 hours after police investigating the Mont Albert mother’s suspicious disappearance arrested her son.

“The body has not been formally identified but is believed to be that of missing woman Penny Bailey,” Acting Sergeant Julie-Anne Newman said last night.

Ms Bailey was one of nine children born to the renowned footballer and PR guru and his wife, Vivienne.

Laurie Kerr played for Carlton in the 1950s and was named as an emergency in Carlton’s Team of the Century.

Former Carlton player Laurie Kerr.

Laurie and Vivienne Kerr, right, with his family in 1967: Libby, 5, Judy, 6, Penny, 11, Paul, 14, Greg, 3, Louise, 17, Peter, 19, and Mark, 9.

Stephen Bailey was an onballer who played reserve grade football for Carlton in 2002.

He was playing at Donvale when he was called up to play reserve grade football for the Blues.

Bailey then headed back to play with Donvale and two years later played in the VFL with the Box Hill Hawks.

He won Box Hill Hawks’ senior best-and-fairest in 2004 under the coaching of Andy Collins.

He later crossed to the SANFL and became a prominent player for Norwood.

Kernahan said he was shocked and saddened at the news of Ms Bailey’s death.

“Our heart goes out to them,” he said.

Stephen Bailey, left, playing for Norwood in June 2006.

Stephen Bailey for Norwood in April 2006.

Kernahan said he was feeling for the entire Kerr and Bailey families, especially Ms Bailey’s mother.

“Vivienne’s a matriach of the football club, she’s the No.1 ticket holder. We know all the family well,” he said.

Mr Bailey, who was arrested in Smithfield Rd, Flemington, on Wednesday night in relation to his mother’s disappearance, played 54 games with Norwood from 2005 to 2007.

Penny Bailey’s mum, Vivienne, right, with daughter Judy Mullen at a Women of Carlton event.

Norwood Football Club president Paul Di Iulio said he was surprised when he heard the former Redlegs players had been arrested.

“I was shocked, I’m shocked at anything like that,” he said. “It’s not good news to hear.”

When asked if Mr Bailey was quiet, Mr Di Iulio said: “That’s my understanding. People I have spoken to say he kept to himself.”

Mr Di Iulio said Mr Bailey had ben a handy player at Norwood.

“He seemed like a reasonable bloke,” he said. “He played in the midfield and on the half back.”

Mr Di Iulio said Mr Bailey left Norwood to play at West Adelaide Football Club, also in the SANFL.

But he said he had departed on good terms and had left for other “football opportunities”. He said Bailey had not returned to the club since.

Forensic investigators at the scene of the discovery at Mullum Mullum creek in Donvale. Picture Yuri Kouzmin

Stephen Bailey spotted walking through the underpass at Flinders St to Southbank.

Ms Bailey’s body was found in bushland near the bed of the Mullum Mullum creek — just metres from a car park in Reynolds Rd.

A crime scene was established near Reynolds Rd just east of Springvale Rd after forensic specialists from the Crime Scene Unit reached the scene last night.

State Emergency Service crews set up flood lights as forensic crews scoured bushland near the creek.

The dumping ground could be clearly seen from a walking track across the small creek.

A local woman who walked past the crime scene on her way home said she was shocked by the discovery.

Local Amy Stephens said the discovery was “terrifying”.

“I am so shocked because this is such a good area,” she said.

“It is so close (to home) and such a nice area that you just don’t expect it to happen.”

She said children and families often used the area and nearby a reserve and sporting oval.

“There are often Scouts teams near here and sausage sizzles — it’s very close to everything,” Ms said.

“This is one-in-a-million — nothing like this happens.”

Penny Bailey and her son Stephen.

Mr Bailey remains in hospital.

Mrs Bailey was last seen at the Mont Albert home she shares with her son about 9pm on Sunday.

Detectives seized a black four-wheel-drive Volkswagen Tiguan from the property, which they loaded on to a flat bed trailer and have taken it away for forensic examination.

Police launched an investigation after the woman was reported missing by family on Tuesday night amid a disturbance at her house.

Her son was seen leaving the townhouse on a bicycle about 11.45am on Tuesday.

Stephen Bailey near the intersection of Elizabeth and Bourke streets in the CBD.

Det Insp Mick Hughes said the alarm was raised after a disturbance had been discovered at the Strabane Ave home.

“There is concern from what we witnessed at that scene,” he said.

A crime scene was established at the house.

Police also have seized two wheelie bins from the nature strip, while a mobile phone was taken into evidence.

Detectives inspected clothing and gloves from inside the bin.

Earlier, Ms Bailey’s siblings and children had forced entry into the townhouse after unsuccessful attempts were made to contact her.

Neighbours woke to find their street filled with police.

They said they hadn’t heard any disturbance from the townhouse over the weekend.

After his football career ended, Laurie Kerr pursued a career in journalism and built the public relations empire IPR.

Kerr studied at St Kevin’s College in Toorak, where four generations of his family would later go on to study.

Kerr died on December 28, 2001. He was 72.

Forensic police take the rubbish bins to check for evidence. Pictures: Ian Currie

Andrew Johns is a disgrace and an embarrassment. He has proven so time and time again!

ANDREW Johns ‘passed out’ at Toowoomba airport.

ANDREW Johns ‘passed out’ at Toowoomba airport.

Some things (ungrateful millionaire ex player and media star)  DO NOT CHANGE

How long does the old boys club protect and support tools like him? There are too many better deserving to be in the spotlight than the likes of Andrew Johns.

Channel Nine dumps Andrew Johns from grand final day broadcast following drunken airport incident

Michael Carayannis and Michael Chammas

Channel Nine stands down Andrew Johns from Sunday’s NRL grand final broadcast following an intoxicated incident at Toowoomba airport on Friday night.

Channel Nine has stood down Andrew Johns from Sunday’s grand final broadcast following the intoxicated incident at Toowoomba airport on Friday night.

Johns, a regular member of Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show, wasn’t included on the panel leading into the grand final coverage on Sunday.

Bad form: The Facebook post of Andrew Johns asleep in Toowoomba Airport with a comment by the poster.

Bad form: The Facebook post of Andrew Johns asleep in Toowoomba Airport with a comment by the poster. Photo: Facebook / Helen Wright

He has also been told he will not be part of the broadcast of the all-Queensland grand final between the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time for the former Newcastle halfback, who is deep in negotiations with Fox Sports about joining his brother Matthew at the pay TV network.

It also comes a fortnight after fellow Channel Nine rugby league commentator Brett Finch checked himself into rehabilitation following a stint back in April.

It comes after Johns was accused of “disgusting and disgraceful” behaviour, photographed lying on the floor at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp airport on Friday night after allegedly propositioning a married woman, who labelled Johns’ behaviour “a very bad example”.

Helen Wright, who later received an apology from the rugby league immortal, detailed Johns’ behaviour on Facebook, saying: “I wish that football commentators [had] more pride and a much higher standard of behaviour in public”.

“This is not an example that should be presented to children that were present! Many of the children had taken photos of him passed out. My own sons have played football all their lives and we love the game. But not this aspect of the game. Regards Helen Wright.”

Andrew Johns apologises for ‘disgraceful’ behaviour at airport – after getting ‘drunk and making sexually explicit comments to a mum of three before passing out’

  • NRL immortal Andrew Johns has been accused of drunk behaviour
  • The formal NRL player allegedly passed out at Toowoomba airport
  • Helen Wright shared a photo of Johns on the floor on social media 
  • The mother-of-three claims he tried to kiss her and made a lewd comment
  • Ms Wright told Daily Mail Australia he has already called to apologise 

By Lucy Thackray for Daily Mail Australia

22:30 EST, 3 October 2015

A woman has accused former NRL player Andrew Johns of ‘disgusting behaviour’, alleging he was drunk and disorderly at an airport and tried to kiss her before passing out on the floor.

A photo of the NRL immortal allegedly lying ‘passed out’ on the floor of Toowomba’s Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport went viral on Saturday morning when Queensland woman Helen Wright posted it on social media.

‘Andrew Johns was absolutely disgusting. He was severely intoxicated,’ wrote Ms Wright, describing the alleged incident, said to have taken place on Queensland’ east coast on Friday night.

The mother-of-three tells Daily Mail Australia Mr Johns made contact with her on Saturday, ringing to apologise if his behaviour had offended her.

The 42-year-old says while waiting for a delayed flight, Johns tried to kiss her and made a lewd comment when she refused.

A photo of the NRL immortal allegedly lying ‘passed out’ on the floor of Toowomba’s Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport went viral on Saturday morning when Queensland woman Helen Wright posted it on social media

‘Andrew Johns was absolutely disgusting. He was severely intoxicated,’ wrote Ms Wright, describing the alleged incident, said to have taken place on Queensland’ east coast on Friday night

‘When I refused to kiss him and replied I was happily married and had three sons his question to me was “did you have a cesarean birth?’

‘Disgusting, disgraceful and a very bad example for all to see.

‘Then he proceeded to pass out on the floor of the airport,’ she alleges.

Ms Wright claims many young children were present and some even took photos of the recently separated commentator while he was ‘passed out’ on the floor.

Ms Wright claims many young children were present and some even took photos of the recently separated commentator while he was ‘passed out’ on the floor

She is calling for NRL identities to be better role models, particularly for the children who look up to them.

‘I wish that football commentators have more pride and a much higher standard of behaviour in public,’ Ms Wright posted.

‘This is not an example that should have been presented to children that were present!’

‘My own sons have played football all their lives and we love the game.

‘But not this aspect of the game.’

Daily Mail Australia made numerous attempts to contact Andrews Johns’ management.

Channel Nine declined to comment.

The all Queensland NRL grand final will be held in Sydney on Sunday night.

She is calling for NRL identities to be better role models, particularly for the children who look up to them

Problem after problem after problem

Ecstasy use controversy

On 26 August 2007 Johns was arrested for fare evasion on the London Underground, and subsequently found to be in possession of one ecstasy tablet. He was cautioned and released with no further charges. Johns initially claimed that an unknown person had pushed the tablet into his pocket which he later forgot to remove before leaving the crowded venue. This initial statement was met with a great deal of cynicism from both the press and the public. On 30 August, Johns revealed, live on the Footy Show, that he had regularly taken ecstasy throughout his playing career, mainly during the off-season. He claimed he had suffered from depression and bipolar disorder and the drugs helped him in dealing with the high level of psychological ‘pressure’ associated with his career as an elite sportsman Not long after the incident he released his ‘tell-all’ autobiography that went into further details regarding his depression and drug use while playing in the NRL.

The ARU released a press statement shortly after the controversy arose, stating that Johns’ drug use was known to the ARU and was a key factor in its decision to not proceed with contractual negotiations in 2004. Brett Robinson, then high-performance unit manager, said that, as well as Johns’ age and injury history, the knowledge of his drug taking had been influential in the ARU making its final decision.

When Johns was named the Best Player of the Last 30 Years in early 2008, the accolade allayed concern that Johns’ shock drug admission the year before had tarnished his remarkable efforts on the field for Newcastle, NSW and Australia. On receiving the award he was quoted as saying his health was now in great shape. “I’m at the best place I have been in a long time,” he said. “It’s not until you step away that I realise all the pressure I was under, I’m not going to miss playing at all.”
Racism controversy

In June 2010 during the lead-up to Origin II, New South Wales centre Timana Tahu withdrew mid-week from the NSW squad following reports Johns referred to Queensland player Greg Inglis as a “black cunt” during a training session.Johns was subsequently fired from his role as NSW assistant coach. Though he apologised for the incident on Tuesday 15 June,it is alleged it was not the first time Johns had used racist language in a football environment. Inglis has since demanded Johns be barred from any involvement in rugby league.

More Joyous Scandal

Johns was the catalyst to the More Joyous Scandal, engulfing leading Sydney horse trainer Gai Waterhouse, larrikin advertising figure John Singleton (racehorse More Joyous’s owner) and bookmaker and son of the horse trainer Tom Waterhouse. Johns passed information from Tom Waterhouse that horse More Joyous was “off” on to brothel owner Eddie Hayson and former jockey Allan Robinson. Singleton received word of this and, while visibly inebriated, verbally attacked Gai Waterhouse on live television. Johns feared his Channel 9 commentating career would be over due to the trouble he caused Tom Waterhouse, a Channel 9 advertiser. Johns’s commentating career survived, although his reputation was further damaged. Both Waterhouses were cleared of any major wrongdoing by a Racing NSW inquiry, however, Singleton and Gai’s longstanding partnership ended.

Andrea Lehane: Mother struck in ‘callous’ mini-motorbike hit-run to have life support switched off

These pathetic weasels need to be  found, dobbed in, whatever…Gutless and those who are protecting them are even weaker. STAND UP

  James Lehane says his wife Andrea will be remembered as an extraordinary person. (Supplied: Andrea Lehane fundraising page)

A mother of two who was critically injured when she was struck by a motorcyclist in a “callous” hit-run will have her life support switched off, her husband has confirmed.

Andrea Lehane, 34, was walking through a pedestrian crossing at a Carrum Downs shopping centre in Melbourne’s south-east when she was bowled over by a mini-motorcycle.

CCTV captured the moment she was struck. It shows a group of motorbike riders speeding off after the collision.

Ms Lehane’s husband James issued a statement to Macquarie Radio saying his wife had suffered “unsurvivable brain damage” in the crash.

“The team at the Alfred [Hospital] have done an extraordinary job but the damage done has been confirmed to be too great,” he said.

Mr Lehane said his wife’s life support would be switched off at some point today or tomorrow.

He said, for his wife’s final act of generosity, the family had consented to organ donation.

“I will be taking her children, her three-year-old son and four-year-old daughter to see their mum for the last time before this occurs.”

Mr Lehane said in the statement that his wife would be remembered as an extraordinary person.

“She was very content in her life and loved and cared for her family and friends. She always put them first,” he said.

“She will always be remembered and missed. Words cannot explain how I feel.”

Yesterday, Victoria Police Inspector Bernie Rankin appealed for the motorcyclists involved to come forward, saying he was certain they knew what had happened.

“It was just callous,” he said.

“Even the motorcycles following the offending one that struck the woman saw what happened, saw the whole thing unfold in front of them.

“They were aware she hit that ground very heavily and of course, they would also be aware the likelihood of her suffering serious injuries was high.”

Mini-bikes ‘a recipe for disaster’

The mini-motorcycle that hit Ms Lehane was most likely an illegal cheap import from China, according to the Victorian Motorcycle Council.

Vice-chairman Peter Baulch said they were slipping through a loophole in legislation and design rules.

“It’s just a recipe for disaster as we’ve seen this week,” he told 774 ABC Melbourne.

“I’m not normally a supporter of regulation for regulation’s sake … but clearly there is a void or a gap in our current regulations that allows these illegal bikes to be imported and sold.

“Unfortunately it puts the burden back on police to enforce the existing regulations in respect of helmets, protective clothing and the like.”

Mr Baulch said history indicated banning the motorbikes would not work.

“Unfortunately experience tells us that when these culprits are apprehended they get a gentle slap on the wrist from authorities — there’s no real deterrent to prevent this recurring,” he said.

Frankston Council ban on mini-motorbikes difficult to enforce

Frankston Council, which takes in Carrum Downs, banned unregistered mini-motorcycles in 2007 under local law after complaints about noise and risk of serious injury.

Mayor Sandra Mayer said police had seized eight motorbikes in the past year in the area while the council had impounded another 10.

But she said it was a difficult problem to tackle.

“We used to have community safety meetings a couple of times a year in the area and the police would always say, ‘Well, we can’t very well chase someone on a bike through a park in a police vehicle’,” she said.

“One thing you can do as a resident, if you know where these people live, if they’re your neighbours, then notify police.”

Bedside vigil kept for Melbourne mother Andrea Lehane after Carrum Downs hit and run

September 25, 2015 – 10:23AM

Chloe Booker, Marissa Calligeros, Rania Spooner

Monkey-bike mows down mum-of-two

Andrea Lehane remains in a critical condition in hospital after one in a group of five youths on motorbikes struck her in a Carrum Downs car park on Wednesday.

A Melbourne mother who was run down and left for dead by a gang of young hoons on mini “monkey” motorbikes has suffered “unsurvivable brain damage”.

The family of Andrea Lehane, who described her as “extraordinary wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece and friend”, confirmed her condition as they kept a vigil at her bedside, radio station 3AW reported on Friday.

Ms Lehane, 34, was struck walking across a pedestrian crossing in the Carrum Downs Regional Shopping Centre car park about 5.10pm on Wednesday.

Andrea Lehane with husband James Lehane.Andrea Lehane with husband James Lehane. Photo: Facebook

She will leave behind two children aged three and four.

Her distraught husband, James, released a statement on Friday morning, saying his wife would not survive the incident.

“On Wednesday afternoon my family’s lives changed in an instant from a careless and avoidable accident,” he said.

Andrea Lehane is a mother of two.Andrea Lehane is a mother of two. Photo: Facebook

“As a result of the impact, my wife suffered unsurvivable brain damage.

“The team at The Alfred have done an extraordinary job, but the damage has been confirmed to be too great.

“Being a nurse, Andy was always keen on organ donation, so as a family we have consented to her going through a complete organ donation process.

“Some time today or tomorrow she will go into theatre, with her life support machines, for her final act of caring and giving.

“I will be taking her children, her three-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, to see their mum for the last time before this occurs.

“She was an extraordinary wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece and friend. She was very content in her life and loved and cared for her family and friends – she always put them first. She will always be remembered and missed. Words cannot explain how I feel.”

Mr Lehane has requested privacy for his family, saying they would like time to grieve.

Ms Lehane was flown to The Alfred hospital in a critical condition with severe head and chest injuries on Wednesday.

Police described the behaviour of the five motorcycle riders, believed to be teenage boys, as “callous”.

Confronting CCTV footage shows them roaring through the busy carpark and slamming into Ms Lehane as she nears the end of the pedestrian crossing.

The first rider passed her, then performed a wheelie, while the second bike, carrying two people, struck her.

The two boys fell off the bike, after which the passenger ran off, while the rider jumped back on his bike and sped off.

One woman, who asked not to be named, described the horrific sight of seeing her laying face down on the ground.

“Everyone was just trying to help her out,” she said, still visibly shaken.

“There was just blood everywhere, flowing everywhere.

“They need to do something to make it safer.”

She said one bystander had jumped into a nearby car and chased after the group of hoons fleeing on their bikes.

“My thoughts are for her now,” she said, after laying a card among the flowers.

Meanwhile, local residents have likened the shopping centre car park to a “drag strip”.

“Everyone drives way too fast around it, like a drag strip, and definitely not enough lighting at night. She was hit on the crossing!” one woman said on Facebook.”Too awful for words.”

Residents placed flowers and a teddy bear next to the pedestrian crossing where the woman was struck, along with notes expressing support and sympathy.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you, get well soon,” one note reads.

“We weep for all, we pray for humanity,” another states.

Detective Inspector Bernie Rankin, from the Major Collision Investigation Unit, said it was not yet clear whether the youths were riding “monkey” bikes or other motorcycles.

Frankston Council, which takes in Carrum Downs, was the first in Victoria to ban the bikes in 2007.

It is illegal to ride most monkey bikes, also known as pocket bikes, on public roads or footpaths.

But is not illegal to own one for use on a private property, such as a gated farm and the small vehicles can easily be bought online.

In general, the bikes have a top speed of 70km/h.

Most monkey bikes, formally known as miniature motorcycles, do not comply with the Australian Design Rules and cannot be registered as a motorcycle.

“Riding a monkey bike without a valid motorcycle licence means a rider will be committing two offences, including driving an unregistered vehicle and driving without a licence,” said Robyn Seymour, the director of vehicle and road use policy at VicRoads.

However some monkey bikes, including a line manufactured by Honda, do comply with Australian Design Rules and, therefore, can be registered.It is understood those select bikes have the right compliance plates to meet Australian road safety standards.

Frankston Council, which takes in Carrum Downs, was the first in Victoria to ban monkey bikes entirely in 2007.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



Craig Handasyde: Former DHS disability worker jailed for 12 months over sexual abuse of male clients

 They always have an excuse these snake bellies…12 friggin months for OVER a decade of abusing vulnerable people in his professional care as a Department of Human Services disability support worker.Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.


A former Department of Human Services disability support worker who sexually abused a number of disabled male clients has been jailed for 12 months.

Craig Handasyde, from Croydon, abused his victims in a number of residential facilities between 1997 and 2011.

Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.

Handasyde abused his victims at the residential units, at swimming pools, in showers and in one case at a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.

In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless. On other occasions he masturbated clients, and induced them to masturbate him.

On at least one occasion he ignored attempts by one victim to push him away.

He handed himself into police last year after confessing the abuse to his wife and a pastor at his church.

Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of committing indecent acts against a person with a cognitive impairment.

In sentencing Handasyde, Judge Gavan Meredith said the families of his victims felt a “sense of loss and betrayal” at the “gross and egregious breach of the trust that was placed in [him]”.

Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation, you were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.

However, the judge said the offending was not likely to have ever come to light if Handasyde had not confessed.

He also said Handasyde was genuinely remorseful, had pleaded guilty early and was at low risk of re-offending.

The court heard Handasyde, 48, was also responding well to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which stemmed from physical abuse by his father as a child, and from witnessing the physical and sexual abuse of his mother by his father.

Family members of a number of Handasyde’s victims were in court to hear the verdict, as was Handasyde’s wife.

Perpetrator’s sexuality was ‘repressed’ by religious upbringing

Judge Meredith said Handasyde’s mother confided in him during his early adolescence that his father was sexually and physically abusing her, which left him feeling helpless.

Handasyde realised he was gay when he was young, but felt unable to express this due to his religious upbringing, and was bullied at school.

“Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation,” Judge Meredith said.

“You were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.”

Handasyde trained as an orchardist, but eventually gained qualifications to work in the disability sector.

He confided in his wife before their marriage that he was sexually attracted to other men, but promised not to act on his feelings.

The couple had eight children, but an earlier hearing was told Handasyde’s wife believed sex should only be for procreation.

Handasyde began watching gay pornography while working in the residential units, and the offending often took place after this.

He confessed to his wife in 2013 that he was watching gay pornography, and later confessed to abusing the men.

He then resigned from the DHS.

Long history of mental health issues, now being addressed

Judge Meredith said Handasyde was suffering from “chronic” post-traumatic stress disorder, which had only come to light since his offending was revealed, but that expert evidence suggested he had “significantly improved” with treatment.

The judge said Handasyde has also been assessed by experts as being at low risk of offending, and that “a constant theme was [his] sincere remorse and desire to make amends for [his] offending”.

Handasyde’s prospects of rehabilitation are good, the judge said, but it was necessary that he serve a term of imprisonment, despite the defence arguing that a community corrections order was appropriate.

Handasyde will be subject to an order for two years after his release.

Judge Meredith said that if Handasyde had not confessed and pleaded guilty, he would have imposed a sentence of two-and-a-half years.

Victim’s family trusted Handasyde, feel let down by department

Outside court after the hearing, the mother of one of Handasyde’s victims said her son had been scarred by the abuse, and was now on medication to deal with the trauma.

“Because he was there such a long time, you think you can trust them,” she said.

“[My son] went to Melbourne when he was three years old, they told me it was the right thing to do because there was no education for him in Geelong.

“So that’s what happened and I trusted the people, I trusted the department and obviously that’s not happened. They haven’t looked after him.”

From other news sites:

  • The Age: Ex-DHS carer Craig Handasyde jailed for one year for abusing disabled men
  • Geelong Advertiser: DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability
  • The Australian: Ex-Vic carer jailed for sexual abuse
  • 3AW Radio: Craig Handasyde, 48, sentenced to 12 months jail over sexual abuse of eight disabled men in care

    DHS disability worker admits abusing deaf, blind patients

    By court reporter Peta Carlyon

    Updated 31 Aug 2015, 5:49pmMon 31 Aug 2015, 5:49pm

    A former Department of Human Services disability support worker whose lawyer said he was deeply religious and in denial about this sexuality has admitted abusing a series of male patients over 13 years across Melbourne’s east.

    Craig Handasyde, 47, of Croydon, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to 11 charges of committing an indecent act with a cognitively impaired person by a worker.

    Key points

    • Craig Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 charges
    • Victims were blind, deaf and unable to communicate
    • Handasyde wanted to appear to be a happily married heterosexual man, court heard
    • Victim became “very disturbed” after abuse

    The abuse occurred across residential facilities in a number of suburbs, and in some cases involved long-term clients between 1998 and 2011.

    Most of his victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.

    Handasyde also abused his victims at swimming pools, in showers and in one case a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.

    In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless.

    On at least one occasion he ignored repeated attempts by one victim to push him away.

    The court heard Handasyde was a highly qualified disability development services officer with an advanced diploma in disability work.

    He had also undertaken a range of extra courses over the years, including “dual disability” and “communications about behaviour for better outcomes”.

    Handasyde resigned from the DHS in 2013.

    He handed himself in to the sex crimes unit at the Knox police station last year because he “wanted to make admissions about sexually abusing DHS clients over 13 years”.

    The court heard Handasyde was a religious man who wanted to clear his conscience in the eyes of God.

    Two pastors were among 13 people to provide references for him.

    ‘A happily married heterosexual man’

    Handasyde’s lawyer Paul Higham told the court his client was deeply religious.

    He was also homosexual, Mr Higham said, but was intent on presenting himself publicly as “a happily married, heterosexual Christian father,” leading to a secret life.

    Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress. You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.

    Victim’s mother

    The court heard Handasyde met his wife within the church and wrote her a letter before they got married, telling her he was “same-sex attracted”.

    “She struggled to accept it, but accept it she did,” said Mr Higham.

    The couple had eight children who were home-schooled and the court heard Handasyde’s wife believed sex was for procreation only.

    “What emerges is a picture of a man who is extremely passive and lacks the ability to assert himself,” Mr Higham told the court.

    Mr Higham said Handasyde “prefers harmony over conflict”, and described his client’s denial of a large part of his identity as “a tragedy”.

    Handasyde’s wife was in court and wept as their home life was detailed to the families of her husband’s victims.

    ‘I trusted you with my son’: Mother of victim

    The courtroom was packed with the parents and relatives of the men Handasyde’s had abused.

    The mother of one victim told the court Handasyde’s offending had turned her son into a “very disturbed young man”.

    “Craig Handasyde ruined his happy nature,” she said.

    “Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress.

    “You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.”

    The woman told Handasyde she had welcomed him into her family’s home on many occasions and felt betrayed.

    “You enjoyed our food and hospitality as a thank you for bringing him home,” she said.

    “I always worried whether I’d done the right thing, sending him to Melbourne.

    “You’ve proved me right. I trusted you with my son who I love so much.”

    The father of another victim told the court his son “could not even understand simple verbal statements” and would “never be able to care for himself”.

    The man said he and his wife entrusted their son to a trusted care provider in the DHS and “for many years we thought he was safe”.

    “We are very disturbed,” the victim’s father said.

    “We can’t ask him about how he felt … the thought of what he [Handasyde] might have been doing … the real torture is not knowing.”

    The victim’s father told the court, he and his wife had noticed a marked change in their son’s mental state 15 years ago, when he became more aggressive.

    “At the time, there was no reason for his behaviour change,” he said.

    “In hindsight, we now wonder if he could have been affected by sexual abuse.”

    He told the court, his son would not have been able to tell anyone about the abuse or warn others who were vulnerable and exposed.

    Handasyde is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

    First posted 31 Aug 2015, 3:09pmMon 31 Aug 2015, 3:09pm

    DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability

  • DHS carer jailed for sex abuse

    Craig Handasyde.

    A GEELONG mother has vowed to continue to fight for her disabled son’s safety after his carer of 15 years was today jailed for sexually abusing him.

    The mother, who can’t be named for legal reasons, said she didn’t think the one-year jail term former Department of Human Services disability worker Craig Gilbert Handasyde, 48, received was adequate but she was relieved to see him behind bars.

    Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent act with a person with a cognitive disability by a care worker — including three which covered multiple offences — over a 13-year period of offending against eight victims.

    The mother told Geelong Advertiser all the victims’ families were hurting and now didn’t know who they could trust.

    She said her once-happy son was on more anxiety medication and was deeply traumatised.

    The court heard he had repeatedly tried to fend off Handasyde, who had cuddled, masturbated and exposed himself to his victims.


    “The only way to stop it happening again is to speak out,” she said.

    “All through (my son’s) life I’ve had to fight.”

    The mother hopes to see changes made at DHS facilities including CCTV in common areas and a minimum of two staff on at all times.

    In sentencing Handasyde to jail and a two-year Community Corrections Order, Judge Gavan Meredith said the victims were defenceless and dependent on Handasyde and their difficulty communicating ensured they couldn’t raise the alarm.

    Judge Meredith said the families’ Victim Impact Statements spoke of how the offending had caused them to doubt their decision to place their loved one in care.

    He accepted the crimes could only be prosecuted due to Handasyde’s confession and that he would find prison difficult due to his depression and post-traumatic stress, but said his “gross and egregious breach of trust” required it.

    Judge Meredith said the community must expect significant punishment for abusing a position of trust. He ordered Handasyde be under supervision and receive psychological treatment for the duration of the CCO.

    “Every attendance will serve as a reminder of the inappropriateness of your behaviour,” he said.


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

money hungry 2

Embezzlement allegation: The Liberal Party will have to rebuild trust

The Drum


Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:58am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasmanian Liberals assure members former state director repaid all money

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:23pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Police to investigate Liberal Party $1.5m embezzlement claims

By Jean Edwards

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:27pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points:

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

He said the party believed Mr Mantach had acted alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We want our money back,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Mantach has been contacted for comment.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 20/08/2015

Reporter: Madeleine Morris

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


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

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

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

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

Madeleine Morris reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SABRA LANE: Madeleine Morris reporting.

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

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

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

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

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

In Melbourne, Rachael Brown reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He says civil action hasn’t been decided on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELEANOR HALL: Rachael Brown with that report.

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