Disturbing claims of abuse heard at Royal Commission into Knox Grammar School


Knox School cared about one thing, their reputation. 30 years later staff and ex staff still will not admit so, it beggars belief listening to some of the answers as to why they did not react to anything relating to abuse and scandal by going outside the school…keep it all in-house was the mantra

Pathetic and they should be ashamed hiding behind their credentials all these years later.

http://www.news.com.au/video/id-xhNHFwczrKxwqVr756pbVMvz4P4WQPPg/Headmaster%27s-astonishing-defence


UPDATED 03/03/15

The messiah takes the stand

The messiah and KING Former Knox Grammar headmaster Ian Paterson

The messiah and KING Former Knox Grammar headmaster Ian Paterson

Live feed to hearings here

http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/case-study/6202742a-5e8d-490b-bec4-84876bef3de0/case-study-23,-february-2015,-sydney


No bloody wonder he wanted to make his statement up front. It would of sounded ridiculous had he done it after his evidence and the commission is finished with him (back on the stand tomorrow)

Very cagey in his answers, instant recall to his achievements and foggy for all the abuse. Disgrace who needs his bestowed Honours removed asap!

Very cagey in his answers, instant recall to his achievements and foggy for all the abuse. Disgrace who needs his bestowed Honours removed asap!

Former Knox Grammar principal Ian Paterson fronts Royal Commission

Former Knox principal’s apology to sex abuse victims

Former Knox principal's apology to sex abuse victims

THE former headmaster accused of covering up child sexual abuse admitted he gave a glowing reference to a religious teacher who resigned after he was seen masturbating outside another school.

Ian Paterson, head of prestigious Sydney boys’ school Knox Grammar from 1969 to 1998, told today’s hearing the reference he gave Chris Fotis was “grossly inappropriate”.

Fotis, a Knox old boy, had been hired without any reference check and had prior child-sex convictions. He left the school in 1989, by which time Dr Paterson was aware of a string of complaints against him.

Dr Paterson giving evidence at the Royal Commission hearing in Sydney.

Dr Paterson giving evidence at the Royal Commission hearing in Sydney. Source: News Corp Australia

One was that he was suspected of donning a balaclava, hiding under a dormitory bed and groping a 14-year-old boy.

The school’s duty master Stuart Pearson told Dr Paterson that Fotis had been convicted of sexually assaulting two girls before he joined Knox and that he was verbally abusing boys.

Dr Paterson gave Fotis a reference describing him as “enthusiastic for his job” and “meticulous in the standards he requires from students”.

Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Fotis, who failed to appear when he was called last week.

Dr Paterson revealed earlier today that he had not reported another teacher for molesting a boy because he was “not aware it was a crime”. He said it did not enter his head to report the balaclava incident.

“It never entered any one of our heads,” he said, referring to duty master Mr Pearson and Tim Hawkes, the housemaster in charge of the Mac Neil boarding house where the incident happened.

Dr Ian Paterson is giving evidence.

The head is accused of covering up decades of child-sex abuse. Source: News Corp Australia

Dr Paterson said he now agreed police should have been called. He denied ever telling the boys that the intruder was an Asian man who had been arrested.

When pressed by counsel advising the commission David Lloyd, Dr Paterson said: “I can assure you that controlling the reputation of the school never once entered my head.”

The head, who is accused of covering up child sexual abuse at Knox Grammar over three decades, earlier admitted to ignoring a student’s claim he had been abused by a teacher and described his as “a drama boy” who was known to “exaggerate stories”.

He confronted the claims today at the Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, amid new explosive accusations he engaged in abuse at the school himself.

Dr Paterson admitted a 15-year-old student had complained to him about a teacher, Damien Vance, touching him inappropriately in 1987, and the then headmaster told him to think about the allegations.

Purple ribbons tied to the gates of Knox Grammar following revelations of widespread paed

Purple ribbons tied to the gates of Knox Grammar following revelations of widespread paedophilia at the prestigious school. Picture: @concernedknox Source: Twitter

“The boy was a drama boy,” he told the Sydney hearing. “He was known as rather dramatical boy who could build up situations … I asked him to think about what I said.”

The former headmaster began his admissions to the Royal Commission expressing “deep regret” over years of abuse.

“I should have known, and I should have stopped the events that led to the abuse of those boys in my care and their families,” the former headmaster told the hearing in Sydney.

“My abject failure to secure for you a safe and secure place at Knox strikes at the very heart of a responsibility of a headmaster.”

In his opening address, Dr Paterson said he was “deeply and profoundly sorry”, and acknowledged that his decisions were wrong.

“This is a source of intense pain for myself and my family,” he said.

Dr Paterson’s appearance at the commission has been delayed since Friday as more witnesses came forward.

The Commission was rocked yesterday with a shock allegation from Lucy Perry, a high profile charity CEO who claims she was groped by Mr Paterson as a schoolgirl.

Lucy Perry was a surprise witness at the hearing yesterday.

Lucy Perry was a surprise witness at the hearing yesterday. Source: News Corp Australia

Ms Perry told the hearing into the elite Sydney boy’s school that Mr Paterson groped her in 1989 when she was part of a musical being produced by her school Roseville, and Knox Grammar.

Ms Perry who is chief executive of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (Australia), said the assault happened in full view of students at the Knox school hall, and the boys who saw it “roared with approval”.

She reported the assault to NSW police in 2009 when numerous allegations about widespread sexual abuse at the school were coming out.

Ms Perry said at one of the rehearsals she was backstage talking to some of the boys at a production of Guys and Dolls when Dr Paterson pointed to her and one of the boys and said “you and you out”.

Lucy Perry leaves the Child Sex Abuse Royal Commission.

Lucy Perry leaves the Child Sex Abuse Royal Commission. Source: News Corp Australia

Despite this she turned up at the next rehearsal and Dr Paterson, who was the producer, singled her out.

As she walked to the edge of the stage “he placed his hand on my backside. I would describe it as between a pat and a grope”. “He then slid his hand right down to cup my buttocks and (I) felt him touch my genitals outside of my clothing”.

She said he had a creepy look on his face.

When asked by Jim Harrowell, a solicitor representing Dr Paterson, if he was just positioning her on the stage she said: “I would suggest to you Mr Harrowell that positioning girls by their bottoms is not the best way to do that”.

She received a standing ovation from Knox victims and their supporters as she left the hearing.

Along with being pressed on the new allegations, Mr Paterson is expected to be asked what he told students about a balaclava-wearing intruder who molested a 14-year-old boy.

Much of the inquiry, which is now in its second week, has concerned an incident in late 1988 when an intruder wearing a Knox tracksuit and a balaclava hid under a boy’s bed and tried to molest him in the early hours of the morning.

Stuart Pearson, the former general duties master at the school and a former policeman said a few days after the incident Dr Paterson told the boys police had arrested an “Asian man” for the break-in.

Image show purple ribbons have been tied to the gates of Knox Grammar to show support for

Image show purple ribbons have been tied to the gates of Knox Grammar to show support for victims. Pic: Twitter / @concernedknox Source: Twitter

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse can find no record that police were ever contacted and on Monday a former student told the commission he recalled Dr Paterson saying the intruder was an “old boy” with mental problems.

Other witnesses have pointed the finger at Chris Fotis, a former teacher who is now being sought by police after the commission summoned him to appear.


 Royal commission into sex abuse: seven key Knox Grammar figures
March 3, 2015 – 1:53PM

THE PLAYERS

Five Knox teachers were convicted of multiple sex charges and one is wanted by police. These seven people are the key figures in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sex Abuse.

CONVICTED: Adrian John Nisbett (above)

Popular English teacher who worked at the school from 1971-2004. Arrested over sexual offences in 2009 and given a suspended sentence. Current principal John Weeks told the royal commission in February 2015 he believed former head master Ian Paterson was covering for Nisbett and wanted to sack him when he became headmaster. Nisbett was allowed to resign. Unable to be summonsed, he now lives in South Africa and is working for a cheetah conservation reserve in Namibia.

CONVICTED: Damian Vance (above)

English and French teacher who was asked to leave the school two years after indecently assaulting a student. Royal commission told Vance received a glowing reference from the school praising his teaching skills, despite having indecently assaulted one student and physically assaulted two others. Arrested in 2009, convicted and released on a good behaviour bond. Told the commission he had previously hit two boys at the school, in 1985 and 1986. Now a cleaner in Melbourne.

CONVICTED: Roger James

Science teacher between 1974-77. Resigned to take up a teaching position in New Zealand. Arrested for sex offences in 2009, convicted and given a suspended sentence. A 14-year-old victim told the royal commission in March 2015 he did not complain about the abuse at the time because of the culture of cover-up at the school. Boys who did speak up were “victimised and ostracised,” he said. “They were seen as weak and they became everybody’s bitch.”

CONVICTED: Craig Treloar (above)

Knox old boy. Resident master and teacher; taught at the school from 1982 until his arrest in 2009. Treloar was convicted on multiple charges of child sex abuse in 2010 and served two years in jail.  Denied to the royal commission in February 2015 he forced children to perform sex acts with him, saying that he allowed the boys to touch him. Said he was shocked when he wasn’t sacked after the pornography claims surfaced. Now unemployed.

CONVICTED: Barrie Stewart

Music teacher and “notorious groper”. Arrested in 2009, convicted of multiple counts of indecent assault and sexual assault relating to seven students. Given a suspended sentence. Former assistant headmaster John Rentoul told the commission in February 2015 his son David was molested by Stewart.

HEADMASTER: Dr Ian Paterson (above)

Principal of Knox Grammar from 1969 until 1998. Students referred to him as “the snake”.  Allegations to the royal commission that Dr Paterson had knowledge of abuse and even allegedly signed a reference letter for one of the teachers he knew was involved. Accused in March 2015 by Roseville Ladies College student Lucy Perry of sexual abuse backstage at a school performance in 1989 when she was 16. Paterson told the royal commission on March 3 he didn’t know it was illegal to sexually proposition a student and that he was an ‘abject failure’. The commission has heard there is no evidence he referred any sex abuse matters to the police. 

ARREST WARRANT: Christopher Fotis (above)

Religious education instructor, pictured above, suspected of being the so-called “balaclava man” who assaulted a year 8 boy in his bed at a school boarding house in 1988 that was under the supervision of Dr Timothy Hawkes (below), now head of the Kings School. Fotis was arrested in 1989 for masturbating in his car while parked outside a school in North Ryde. Dr Paterson provided Fotis with a reference letter in which he described him as an “enthusiast”. Warrant issued for his arrest in February 2015 for failure to appear at the royal commission. Whereabouts unknown since mid-February 2015.

TIMELINE

1924: Knox Grammar School first established as a Presbyterian Church School.

1969: Dr Ian Paterson becomes headmaster.

1970s: Allegation of “inappropriate behaviour” first surface, involving teachers Barrie Stewart, Roger James and Adrian Nisbett. Former assistant headmaster John Rentoul weeps  as he tells the royal commission about the discovery his son, David, was molested by Knox music teacher Barrie Stewart in the late 1970s.

1980s: Rumours of sexual abuse circulate more widely.

1986Christopher Fotis employed as religious education instructor despite having convictions for assaulting a female and offensive behaviour.

1987: Craig Treloar disciplined for watching hardcore pornography, including paedophilia and bestiality, with boys but allowed to keep his job.  Damian Vance indecently assaults a boy in a room under the chapel. Stuart Pearson reports Treloar to Dr Paterson after a boy alleged the teacher had propositioned him for sex. Pearson told the royal commission in February 2015 he was “gobsmacked” Treloar and Nisbett were working at the school years after he reported them to Paterson.

1988: A masked man, believed to be Fotis, sexually assaults a boy in his bed in a boarding house at the school.

1989: Vance asked to leave. Fotis asked to leave later that year after being caught masturbating outside a school in North Ryde. Headmaster Ian Paterson alleged to have sexually abused 16-year-old Roseville Ladies College student Lucy Perry backstage.

1990s: Sixteen-year-old student ATQ forms a sexual relationship with his resident housemaster. Warns another housemaster that Knox is a “paedophile ring” but nothing done in response.

1999: New principal Peter Crawley initiates investigation into Adrian Nisbett.

2009: Nisbett, Treloar, Stewart, James and Vance arrested and later convicted of multiple sex charges.

Emails tendered in evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reveal an unnamed solicitor had recommended the destruction of documents in 2009, following the arrests of the five teachers who abused children.

More info here, exhibits, transcripts and witness lists http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/case-study/6202742a-5e8d-490b-bec4-84876bef3de0/case-study-23,-february-2015,-sydney

February 26, 2015 1:16PM

Child abuse cover-up?

Child abuse cover-up?

A FORMER teacher at Sydney’s prestigious Knox Grammar school has failed to appear at a royal commission into child abuse.

The commission has issued a warrant for the arrest of Christopher Fotis, who was due to give evidence on Tuesday.

A public hearing this week has heard disturbing claims of abuse at Knox, which happened in the 1970s and 80s. Boys at one of Australia’s most exclusive schools were allegedly shown pornography, given alcohol and groomed for sex by a number of teachers at the school.

On Thursday David Lloyd, counsel advising the commission, said police were searching for Fotis and if he was found he would be brought to the commission.

Fotis was never charged with offences at Knox but was jailed in Melbourne for sexual abuse offences at a school there after his time at Knox, in Wahroonga on Sydney’s north shore.

The inquiry into the NSW private boys’ school is focusing on an incident in 1988 at one of the boarding houses, MacNeil House, when a person wearing a Knox tracksuit and balaclava hid under a child’s bed and sexually assaulted him.

Mr Lloyd said although the person’s face was concealed by the balaclava a number of the boys in the dormitory believed the offender was Fotis.

Former students have also alleged abuse by other teachers happened in dimly-lit music rehearsals. One of the teachers was still working at the school when he was arrested in 2009.

The expensive private school, whose old boys include judges, politicians such as the late Gough Whitlam and actors Hugh Jackman and Hugo Weaving, faced adverse publicity in 2009 when four teachers pleaded guilty to abusing students.

One “notorious molester” had memorial gates erected in his honour with the inscription “He touched us all”, the inquiry was told.

Prestigious: Hugh Jackman was a former student at the prestigious Knox Grammar. There is

Prestigious: Hugh Jackman was a former student at the prestigious Knox Grammar. There is no suggestion he was abused. Source: Supplied

In his opening statement on Monday, Mr Lloyd said five teachers at Knox in Wahroonga on Sydney’s north shore were convicted of sex offences against students. There would be allegations of abuse by a further three teachers who were never charged, he said.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will examine the response of the Uniting Church and Knox between 1970 and 2012 to concerns raised about inappropriate conduct by a number of teachers towards students at the school.

Evidence has been given that paedophiles were allowed to continue working at Knox even after a string of complaints and some witnesses claimed there was a paedophile ring at the school.

Geoffrey Watson SC, representing Knox Grammar School, said the school humbly and sincerely apologised for its failings.

“It apologises to all of those students who were damaged by these events. It apologises to the parents of those students and the other members of their families,” he said.

DISTURBING DETAILS

One former student Scott Ashton, 44 told the commission he was nine when he went to the prestigious school. From the start he was abused “openly and brazenly” by teacher Barrie Stewart.

Mr Ashton gave evidence on Tuesday and said he remembers bleeding from his rectum when Stewart used his finger to molest him.

Some of the abuse happened at dimly-lit music rehearsals where Stewart also abused other boys.

In 2009 Stewart was convicted of five counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault. He was given a suspended sentence.

Lives ruined: Former student Scott Ashton with friend Gretel Pinniger (left) and lawyer L

Lives ruined: Former student Scott Ashton with friend Gretel Pinniger (left) and lawyer Leigh Johnson (right). Source: News Corp Australia

Mr Ashton also told of depression, confusion and substance abuse since leaving Knox. He ended up working in the sex industry.

He said he was already fragile when he arrived at Knox as his two-year-old brother had been killed after they were both hit by a car at a pedestrian crossing. The other students beat him up and tried to get him to say he was responsible for his brother’s death

Mr Ashton was too distraught to read his own statement to the commission. It was read instead by his friend, Gretel Pinniger, also known as the high profile Sydney dominatrix Madame Lash.

Mr Ashton was also deeply confused by the attitude at the school where all were expected to pay tribute to an art teacher Bruce Barrett who had died young.

Mr Ashton said Barrett was a “notorious molester” but the school put up memorial gates at the back entrance to the Wahroonga school in his honour and bearing the inscription: “He touched us all”.

Another witness, Coryn Tambling, said he was abused by Craig Treloar in 1984 when he was at Knox. He said the teacher showed him and other boys pornographic videos one of which was a “homosexual gang bang involving teenage boys”.

Shocking allegations of abuse at prestigious boys school Knox Grammar.

Shocking allegations of abuse at prestigious boys school Knox Grammar. Source: Supplied

The teacher would reassure the boys and tell them it was OK to be homosexual, he said.

“Treloar also told me he was part of a group in Kings Cross that made these movies and he would secure me a part in a movie if I wanted.” He said he showed the boys business receipts from the Kings Cross company.

Treloar was sentenced to four and a half years in jail, with two years non-parole in 2009 and is now out. He will give evidence at this royal commission hearing.

MAN IN A BALACLAVA

Counsel for the commission David Lloyd, said witnesses would give evidence that a number of boys in one of the boarding houses were abused by a man in a Knox tracksuit and a balaclava.

One witness will say he awoke one morning when he was in year 8 to find the “balaclava man” sexually assaulting him.

Mr Lloyd said that although the person’s face was concealed by a balaclava, a number of the boys in the dormitory believed it was Christopher Fotis.

The school investigated and the boys were later told the “balaclava man” was a young Asian man who had been arrested by police.

Mr Lloyd said there was no evidence to suggest the NSW Police were ever notified of the incident, either as a break-and-enter or as an assault.

He also said “despite the paucity of contemporaneous documents it is anticipated that there will be evidence that senior people at Knox knew about the allegations of abuse” at the time.

Man wearing a balaclava and Knox tracksuit allegedly abused boys at Knox. Picture: Troy S

Man wearing a balaclava and Knox tracksuit allegedly abused boys at Knox. Picture: Troy Snook Source: News Corp Australia

LIVES RUINED

A former teacher at Knox Grammar broke down as he laid the blame for his son’s ill health and early death squarely on the school he once respected.

John Rentoul, whose son David died aged 44 after a series of illnesses, said he only found out in 2009 that his son had been abused by teacher Barrie Stewart.

Dr Rentoul only found out about the abuse when David, who was at the school in the late 1970s, was giving evidence against Stewart.

“I was shocked and outraged when David told us of the abuse,” said Dr Rentoul, who taught at the school from 1969 to 1980. He became emotional as he told how his son revealed he felt terribly ashamed and guilty because Stewart was a family friend and this led him to hide the abuse for 30 years.

Former Knox teacher Barrie Stewart at the Hornsby local court.

Former Knox teacher Barrie Stewart at the Hornsby local court. Source: News Limited

“I absolutely believe that the extreme stress, guilt and shame David suffered as a result of the abuse directly lead to his health issues and also resulted in his marital problems.” He said his son’s immune system was compromised by prolonged and sustained periods of post traumatic stress and he could not fight a lung infection which led to organ failure.

Dr Rentoul said the family had welcomed Stewart as an excellent teacher and arranged for him to give David piano lessons.

He said they believed the commission should ensure that “institutions such as Knox be held accountable for failing to protect its students against sexual predators”.

Dr Rentoul also said “private schools are more susceptible to instances of sexual abuse because of more opportunities for the development of close relationships between teachers and students during extra-curricular activities, and because of the prevalence of boarding establishments”.

Another mother also told of the impacts of the abuse on her son, who has been given the pseudonym ATS. Her son started at the school in 2002 when he was 10 years old.

She said her son was very happy for the first term but then changed — he became quiet and withdrawn. He refused to talk to his parents, became angry and hostile and self-harmed before being hospitalised after a serious suicide attempt.

When he was 14, her son told a psychiatrist that he had been abused by former teacher Craig Treloar, who used to invite boys to his room and offer them ginger beer. Her son would later say things to her like “’Treloar tried it on lots and lots of times, but only got it once’”.

Counsel Assist David Lloyd at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child

Counsel Assist David Lloyd at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing into Knox Grammar School. Photo Jeremy Piper/ Oculi Source: News Corp Australia

She said she took this to mean that Treloar was constantly sexually harassing her son.

When ATS was 16 he was offered a professional rugby contract with Gordon Rugby Club, but he could not go through with it.

ATS, now 22, lives in Canada — he cannot bear to live in Sydney, she said.

“Words can’t express the enormity of the daily pain experienced by ATS or myself and his family,” she said. The strain led to her marriage breakdown.

She said the experience had been horrific, terrifying and heart-wrenching.

“As a mother I have hopes and dreams for my children. My dreams for ATS were stripped down to mere survival.”

Another witness who used the pseudonym ARY said students could not talk about the abuse because if they did they were seen as weak and considered as everyone’s “bitch”.

He said that during his time at the school he observed systemic bullying by teachers and by students of other students.

He blamed the culture at the school on the headmaster for 30 years Ian Paterson.

“Paterson and his rule dragged the school through a dark age that it should never had had, particularly as a Christian institution,” he said.

HEADMASTER NICKNAMED ‘SNAKE’

The inquiry heard that the autocratic style of a headmaster nicknamed “Snake” at Knox made it possible for teachers to take advantage of and prey on students.

A man using the pseudonym ARY said the governance style of Ian Paterson, headmaster at Knox for 30 years, made students fearful of reporting sex abuse by teachers.

ARY boarded at the school from Year 7 in 1974 and was there for four years. He was indecently assaulted by science teacher Roger James when he was 14. James was convicted and given a suspended sentence.

ARY and other former students told the sex abuse royal commission on Monday there was a culture of cover-up at the prestigious Wahroonga school.

Witnesses also accused the school of engendering a culture of homophobia with one saying he felt the school tried to force him out because he was gay.

ARY said James was a popular teacher, who was considered eccentric, smoked cigars in his office and the playground and was known to have alcohol in his office. He befriended ARY and stayed with his family, assaulting him during one stay.

ARY said he could not tell his parents who were paying for his expensive education. He also feared a backlash at school.

“In the boarding school if you were accused of a homosexual act you would never live it down,” he said.

 Knox Grammar School students leaving the school at Wahroonga in Sydney.

Knox Grammar School students at Wahroonga in Sydney. Source: News Corp Australia

ARY said because of the Knox experience he was severely and incurably homophobic, even though he knew it was illogical.

He said Dr Paterson’s “autocratic style of governance” contributed to the “Knox culture which conditioned students to be fearful of reporting inappropriate conduct, and to be accepting of such behaviour by teachers.” It also allowed “teachers to take advantage of, and prey upon, students,” he said.

It was widely known by students that James, music teacher Barrie Stewart and Adrian Nesbitt — three of five teachers who pleaded guilty to indecent acts — were “overly hands-on with boys,” he said.

“I cannot believe that Paterson and other long term staff had no idea that sexual abuse was happening at Knox.” But the culture stopped teachers from speaking up.

“Everyone was expected to keep up the reputation of Knox,” he said.

Former assistant headmaster John Rentoul became upset as he told how his son David revealed he was molested by Stewart in the late 1970s.

“I believe the school was more interested in protecting the reputation of Knox than ensuring the safety and welfare of its students,” Dr Rentoul said.

A former student using the pseudonym ATQ said when he told another teacher that Knox was a “paedophile ring” he was told, “you can’t say that”. ATQ was 16 when he was groomed and abused by a housemaster.

Justice Coate and Commissioner Atkinson at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Respon

Justice Coate and Commissioner Atkinson at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Picture: Jeremy Piper/ Oculi Source: News Corp Australia

Matthew O’Neal, who was abused by music teacher Barrie Stewart, said he was surprised to discover the teacher was still employed there 15 years later.

In a statement read to a royal commission hearing, Mr O’Neal, said when his brother started at the school in 1990, Stewart was still there.

“A gay paedophile in a boys school is like a kid in a candy shop. He should never have been working there,” Mr O’Neal said.

He said he went to the school when his younger brother was starting and he recalled a comment Stewart made to his mother. “I recall Stewart saying ‘Matthew is better looking than (his brother)’,” he said.

Mr O’Neal said he was relieved because it made him think at least he would not be interested in abusing his brother. He said Knox had done absolutely nothing to help him.

“They have not offered counselling, support, compensation, nothing”.

The commission heard that despite several internal inquiries there was no evidence Dr Paterson contacted the police.

Dr Paterson, headmaster at Knox from 1969 to 1998 will give evidence, probably next week.

Geoffrey Watson SC, representing Knox Grammar School, said the school humbly and sincerely apologised for its failings.

“It apologises to all of those students who were damaged by these events. It apologises to the parents of those students and the other members of their families,” he said.

CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS

Counsel for the commission David Lloyd said Knox, which was established in 1924 by the Presbyterian Church, had five boarding houses supervised by resident masters in the 1980s.

During that time there didn’t appear to be any formal process for employing someone who wanted to be a resident master.

“The evidence will disclose that at least one of the resident masters employed in around 1986, a Mr Chris Fotis, had criminal convictions for more than one offence at the time he was employed,” he said. The nature of the offence has no yet been disclosed. Mr Fotis was due to give evidence later in the hearing.

Former teacher, Craig Treloar, who admitted showing pornography to students in the 1980s continued teaching there until he was arrested for sex abuse more than 20 years later.

Mr Treloar thought he’d be sacked but was instead allowed to pick the timing of his six-month suspension. After returning from his suspension at the start of 1989, Treloar remained at the school until his arrest for child abuse in 2009.

He was sentenced to a minimum two years jail in 2010 for abusing boys at the school, but has also denied forcing his victims into sexual acts.

On Wednesday, he told the royal commission that, after admitting to showing porn to students in 1987, he was suspended from teaching for six months.

Treloar asked headmaster Ian Paterson if his suspension could be delayed — a request Treloar said was brought to the school council, which allowed him to start at the beginning of 1988 and to take off the last six months of the year.

The commission has heard Treloar admitted showing boys heterosexual porn, but evidence he also showed them videos depicting bestiality and paedophilia went undiscovered because the school held no investigation.

Five teachers pleaded guilty to indecent acts. Picture: Troy Snook

Five teachers pleaded guilty to indecent acts. Picture: Troy Snook Source: News Corp Australia

During his appearance at the commission, Treloar described his criminal charges of indecent assault as “letting boys touch me”.

“Do you have any self-awareness of how offensive it is to say that the boys wanted to touch you and you let them?” asked Peter Skinner, counsel representing three victims of sexual abuse. “You forced them to touch you. That’s the truth, isn’t it?” he continued.

“No, I didn’t force them to touch me,” Treloar replied.

Treloar, a Knox old boy who left in 1977 before returning to teach in 1982, told the commission he wasn’t asked for references when he applied to work as a resident master at a boarding home for year seven boys.

The former head of the Knox Preparatory School, Michael Jenkinson, told the commission Treloar’s status as an old boy was valued when he was interviewed for the boarding house job.

After he became aware of the porn, he and Dr Paterson concluded Treloar was immature.

“The only explanation we could give is that he’s just being a show off, of the level of his immaturity,” Mr Jenkinson said. After returning from his six-month suspension, Treloar was removed from the boarding house.

FILES DISAPPEARED

The inquiry heard that the files of students who made complaints of sexual abuse against teachers had disappeared.

David Lloyd, counsel assisting the commission, told the hearing Ian Paterson, who was headmaster between 1969 and 1998, will give evidence he kept documents recording the allegations — and the school’s response — in a black folder in his office.

But when the folder was inspected by Mr Paterson’s successor it became apparent a “number of files of students who made complaints of abuse have gone missing, without apparent explanation”.

Mr Lloyd said the commission will consider whether the documents were “deliberately destroyed in order to eliminate evidence which might adversely affect the school”.

The inquiry would also hear detailed reports were prepared after serious allegations were made against staffer Adrian Nisbett. Nisbett pleaded guilty to assaulting three boys in 1976 and 1986 and received a suspended sentence in 2010.

A duty manager at the school, Stuart Pearson, conducted an extensive investigation and found Nisbett had targeted “post-pubescent boys between 13 and 15 who excelled athletically as opposed to academically”. He recommended Nisbett be removed but there was no record of a response to his report.

Mr Nisbett was given a position as assistant to the headmaster, which he held until 1999, during which time he had access to student files.

He was then appointed to the role of Director of Students and aspects of the role included him providing pastoral care to pupils. There were further complaints and in 2003 Knox appointed an investigator, who carried out inquiries under the supervision of the Ombudsman.

The school accepted the investigator’s findings and informed the Commissioner for Children and Young People.

No mention was made of the NSW Police and the Ombudsman’s office did not pursue Knox, Mr Lloyd told the hearing.

Damien Vance, another teacher, was later given a glowing reference.

Vance was asked to leave Knox in 1989 because the parents of a boy he abused were coming to the school. When he left, Dr Paterson gave Vance a letter of service which he used to get a job in a school in Victoria. He continued to teach until a court ordered him to stay away from all schools two decades later.

Damian Vance, former Knox Grammar teacher who was convicted of inciting an act of indecen

Damian Vance, former Knox Grammar teacher who was convicted of inciting an act of indecency. Picture: Bradley Hunter Source: News Corp Australia

When the hearing was announced current headmaster John Weeks wrote to old boys saying the sex abuse incidents had been widely publicised in 2009 and Knox had “always accepted its responsibility in this matter”.

Mr Weeks also said Knox has a most comprehensive child protection policy covering staff selection and training, student awareness and support structures.


26/02/15

Knox Grammar teacher suspected of hiding under boy’s bed with balaclava, sexually assaulting him

A former teacher at the prestigious Knox Grammar School in Sydney was suspected of wearing a balaclava as he hid under a boy’s bed and inappropriately touched him, the royal commission into child sexual abuse has heard.

The commission heard details of the alleged assault, which was said to have occurred in the late 1980s, from Dr Timothy Hawkes, who was a former Knox Grammar boarding house master and is now the current headmaster at Kings School at Parramatta.

Dr Hawkes said he was alerted to what became known as the “balaclava man” incident when he responded to what was believed to be an intruder about 5:00am.

“This was just a bizarre, extraordinary and extremely worrying and even frightening event,” Dr Hawkes told the hearing.

The teenager, known as ARN, had allegedly been assaulted as he slept.

“[ARN] told me that a man in a balaclava had run his hand on the inside of his leg and up towards his genitals,” Dr Hawkes said.

“He had woken with a start, a shout, and that the man had run off.”

Dr Hawkes said he believed the boy when he was told about the incident and immediately alerted the headmaster, Doctor Ian Paterson.

“We needed action to be taken because we had somebody running around the school with or without a balaclava, sexually interfering with boys,” Dr Hawkes said.

Dr Hawkes told the hearing he did not report the matter to the police because the school hierarchy meant that it would have become the responsibility of the headmaster or his assistant, who was a recently retired police officer.

“I didn’t believe it was my place to do that,” Dr Hawkes said.

“I had every confidence that the matter would be dealt with by a very experienced headmaster.

“There was absolutely no question in my mind that I fully expected the police to be notified because it was a serious offence. And I was desperate to make sure that this person was caught because I did not want that happening again to any of my boys.”

Dr Hawkes reacted angrily to a question from counsel assisting that suggested his priority was to protect the school’s reputation.

“I would totally reject that comment and find it offensive,” Dr Hawkes said.

“I had particularly no motivation to have, to in a sense, protect the school. That would never cross my mind and to suggest so I find utterly offensive.”

In the months after the assault, Dr Hawkes said some students suspected two of his colleagues.

“There was increased speculation that the intruder may well have been somebody inside,” Dr Hawkes said.

“There were two that were talked about in equal degrees of likelihood and those were Mr Fotis and Mr Vance.”

A warrant was issued for the arrest of former Knox Grammar teacher Christopher Fotis, who failed to appear at the hearing on Tuesday.

In his opening statement, Counsel Assisting David Lloyd revealed Damien Vance was later convicted of one count of category four sexual assault and released on a good behaviour bond.

Mr Lloyd said on Monday that “although the person’s face was concealed by a balaclava, a number of the boys in the dormitory believed that the offender was Christopher Fotis, one of the resident masters in MacNeil House at the time”.

“The basis of that belief was that the offender had the same build as Mr Fotis and Mr Fotis had, before lights out on the evening before the assault, said to ARN that he had a surprise in store for him that night,” Mr Lloyd said.

Mr Fotis later resigned from the school “after being arrested for masturbating in his car while parked outside a school”, Mr Lloyd said on Monday.

The hearing before Justice Jennifer Coate and Commissioner Bob Atkinson continues.

The inquiry in Sydney continues.

Interior designer Stuart Rattle’s partner, Michael O’Neill sentenced to 18 years in jail for his murder


The lover of Stuart Rattle has been sentenced to a 13-year minimum jail sentence for his

The lover of Stuart Rattle has been sentenced to a 13-year minimum jail sentence for his murder.

THE lover of murdered interior designer Stuart Rattle could serve just 13 years behind bars despite treating him like a prop out of the black comedy A Weekend at Bernie’s.

Michael O’Neill, 48, made cups of tea and watched episodes of Dr Who with his dead lover, who he murdered in their South Yarra home by cracking him over the head with a frying pan and strangling him with a dog lead.

The grim charade went on for five days as O’Neill carried on his day-to-day life pretending Mr Rattle was alive, buying him food and wine.

He eventually burnt down their home and made it loom like an accident.

Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth today sentenced him to a maximum of 18 years in jail, with a 13-year minimum, on charges of murder and arson.

Stuart Rattle's family at the Melbourne Supreme Court including sisters Diane Newlands an

Stuart Rattle’s family at the Melbourne Supreme Court including sisters Diane Newlands and Katrina Lewin and mother Jill Rattle. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Michael O'Neill arriving at the Supreme Court this morning. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Michael O’Neill arriving at the Supreme Court this morning. Picture: Nicole Garmston

A 1998 portrait of Stuart Rattle.

A 1998 portrait of Stuart Rattle.

In handing down her decision, Justice Hollingworth said she accepted O’Neill killed the respected interior decorator in December 2013 in a snap decision and did not plan to profit from his death.

“I accept that you killed Mr Rattle in the heat of the moment, without any forethought, for reasons which are deeper and more complicated than those suggested by the prosecution,’’ she said.

But Mr Rattle’s sister Katrina Lewin said her family was “shattered” over the jail sentence handed down.

“We are very disappointed by the meagre sentence that has been imposed,” Ms Lewin said.

Stuart Rattle's home office displayed his stylish sensibilities.

Stuart Rattle’s home office displayed his stylish sensibilities.

“We miss him everyday. Stuart was a very special person, he was very talented, charming and generous.

“It’s a waste of a beautiful life.”

Justice Hollingworth described O’Neill’s crime as “toward the lower end’’ of her sentencing range.

“Mr Rattle’s behavior in no way justified your killing him. But the circumstances in which you killed Mr Rattle, including the history of the relationship and your fragile psychological state, mean that the sentence imposed for murder must be towards the lower end of the range for that offence,’’ she said.

The court had previously heard O’Neill killed his partner of 16 years after he ridiculed him for refusing sex.

“He was stunned, and I got the dog lead and wrapped it around his neck,’’ he told police during his record of interview.

One of Rattle’s luxurious interiors in Toorak. Picture homesoftherich.net

One of Rattle’s luxurious interiors in Toorak. Picture homesoftherich.net

“I pulled it into a tight knot and he said to me, ‘Michael, don’t do this’. That’s all he said.”

“I made him a cup of tea.’’

O’Neill said he washed Mr Rattle’s bloody face before tidying up and placing him in a bag on the bed.

He continued to live his life as normal, taking the couple’s fox terriers for walks and catching up with friends.

“I did everything – two of everything,’’ he told police.

At one point he even sat by Mr Rattle’s body in bed and watched a Dr Who DVD, adjusting the TV as if to give the dead man a better view.

And he texted a friend from Mr Rattle’s phone, pretending he was still alive.

O’Neill said he sat and talked to Mr Rattle’s corpse.

Justice Hollingworth said the argument that led to Mr Rattle’s death was a repetition of the controlling and belittling behavior that had characterised their relationship.

“This was certainly not the first time he had called you a ‘frigid bitch’ for refusing his sexual advances. But this time you snapped … You finally had enough.’’

Ms Hollingworth said she took into account O’Neill suffered from a personality disorder and depression and was likely to do hard prison time.

She also took into account his early plea of guilty, clean criminal history and genuine remorse.


 

How Michael O’Neill hid the murder of interior designer and lover Stuart Rattle for five days

Designer Stuart Rattle at his beloved Musk Farm in Daylesford.

Designer Stuart Rattle at his beloved Musk Farm in Daylesford.

Guilty plea

THE first Malvern Rd tram of the day had just trundled by when Michael O’Neill rose from his bed, went to the kitchen, selected a saucepan, and clobbered his long-time partner.

Stuart Rattle was barely awake at the moment of the solitary blow: now groggy and bleeding, he asked O’Neill to stop as his lover wrapped a dog lead around his neck and pulled tight.

The scene made little sense, nor did what followed – as described by the murderer, who “loved” the victim as “a good person” who had been “so good to me”.

O’Neill mopped up the blood – Rattle didn’t like mess, he later explained. Unsure of what to do next, O’Neill steered a belated course for civility. He made his victim a cup of tea.

Over the next five days O’Neill would apologise to his deceased partner, who he lay in their bed. He would cry for his loss and pretend that Rattle, 53, wasn’t dead at all.

O’Neill, now 48, prepared meals for Rattle and shifted the TV so they could watch shows together. Yes, it sounded “very strange”, he later admitted.

“There’s something psychopathic about it all,” one of Rattle’s closest friends told the Herald Sun soon after O’Neill’s arrest, “but I’m not sure he’ll ever give a reason why he did it.”

Stuart Rattle's home office after the fire.

Stuart Rattle’s home office after the fire.

When Rattle’s body was discovered after a fire, the friend was instantly suspicious. O’Neill blamed a candle, yet Rattle was terrified of having open flames inside. The friend led a hushed chorus of suspicion. He “knew” then that O’Neill was being untruthful because “he couldn’t even look me in the face”.Slipperiness punctuated a police interview O’Neill gave soon afterwards. For five hours, O’Neill danced around the truth about the suspicious death. Once he finally confessed, he repeatedly said that he had killed Rattle for no good reason at all.

Then, he had lived with his victim and made his excuses. Then, he had botched the cover-up (which he explained as an attempt to offer his decomposing friend some “dignity”). O’Neill’s version of these events stands alone – the only other witnesses were the couple’s three fox terriers.

The police interview of last December was released last week during O’Neill’s committal hearing. It depicted a twitchy subject who lapsed between the past and present tense. O’Neill asked for wine and declined an offer of food because he doubted the police could offer anything he would like.

It was the denouement, if you believe others, after months of emotional struggle for O’Neill. One telling features O’Neill, suffering crying fits and bouts of hysteria, having to be hidden at times from Rattle’s interior design clients.

O’Neill had been a waiter at an upmarket Italian bistro when he and Rattle met in the late 1990s. Rattle’s renown as an interior designer was reaching full bloom. His talent would later shine most publicly at his beloved Musk Farm near Daylesford, yet his gifts extended to painting.

A great source of pride between the couple, it’s said they had confided, was that their initial bond had produced one almost instant tangible effect. O’Neill was in love – and off the anti-depressants.

Late last year, after 16-odd years, O’Neill was back on the prescription medication, according to one story told by friends. The drugs, say observers, were not working. O’Neill was manic, more “flighty” than usual, and always in a rush. He seemed mentally “unwell” and was making mistakes – well, even more mistakes than usual.

The day before Rattle’s death, at a Point Nepean Rd mansion in Portsea, O’Neill apparently botched the deliveries on the final day of a two-year project. The arguments, or “sh–fight”, flared throughout the day. The assumption among Rattle’s friends is that Rattle, finally, wanted O’Neill gone, at least from the business, if not the beds they shared as well.

‘In some ways you can see it all unfolding, when you look back on it’ – a friend of Stuart Rattle

This tallies with the closest O’Neill came to a motive during his police interview, a week after he killed Rattle. In response to the 1565th question put to him in a seven-hour interrogation, he said: “I was frightened and scared I’d lose him. I couldn’t face that.”

During the interview, O’Neill had offered up lies that could never survive scrutiny. That Rattle had died in the fire. That so-and-so had seen Rattle on days after Rattle had died. He later said “there wasn’t any, like … discord” between the pair. Indeed, he said, they had been “very happy”.

It seems, however, there was much heat between the pair when Rattle died. There had been for months. The trappings of their lifestyle projected success from afar. They drove a Range Rover. Rattle avoided champagne that was not French.

Yet the shininess did not paste over the fissures of time. Rattle had been noticeably vocal in his frustration with O’Neill, who was increasingly unable to cope with the pressures of running Rattle’s high-fuss business.

“In some ways you can see it all unfolding, when you look back on it,” says someone who knew Rattle for decades. “But the horrendous result just seems absolutely unimaginable. Michael must have just snapped.”

STUART Rattle was feeling low. One afternoon, a couple of years’ back, he took a bottle of wine to a friend’s, a fabric house owner, and sat down for a chat. He had a simple question. Why aren’t I as big as Thomas Hamel?

Hamel, from Sydney, is considered Australia’s most feted interior designer. Some experts, especially south of the border, felt Rattle was more talented.

Rattle lacked naked ambition: he’d rather perfect a garden than conquer the world, and he had, by then, tired of rich clients and their absurd demands. He’d prefer to stare at shades than study balance sheets. Yet the fabric house owner, it’s said, had a simple answer to the simple question: “Because of Michael.”

A magazine spread featuring Stuart Rattle’s work.

A magazine spread featuring Stuart Rattle’s work.

O’Neill was chatty, whereas Rattle, outside the fields of his expertise, tended to shrink in a crowd. Against this, the world was offered many images of Rattle, the brand name, whereas next to no photos exist of O’Neill. Rattle was said to be “Mumsy”, yet O’Neill was almost entirely off the public stage. For years, it worked. Their private teaming oozed charm and happiness.O’Neill was vague about his past: he had arrived from Ireland, via Terang. Any reticence he showed about broadcasting his origins was not unusual: many in high-end circles are said to thrust forwards without a nod to the past.

O’Neill was comfortable, over a cup of tea, talking classics or history or literature. Observers agree he had a wicked sense of humour that at times belonged in a skit show series. “He was very knowledgeable about a lot of things, which surprised us, because he could be so useless on another level,” says one.

Furniture maker Kim Moir used to speak to O’Neill almost every day. Moir had supplied Rattle for decades: they were so reliant on one another that they had agreed to retire at the same time.

Before his death, Rattle told Moir that he couldn’t afford to retire. He was open about his love of finer things, and the spending that such tastes demanded. “French champagne costs the same in the country as it costs in the city,” Rattle told Moir, who – as Rattle had often joked – would make Rattle’s coffin.

Moir says he didn’t want the every day contact with O’Neill, but that he had learned long ago that O’Neill would otherwise mess up the latest shape, size, order or delivery. He was “incompetent”; worse, he “refused to believe he was incompetent”.

O’Neill’s forgetfulness and “perpetual lying” cost a lot of money. “You can’t go to the customer and say we’ve made a mistake, we’ll have to order another $40,000 worth of fabric,” Moir says. “You just wear it and you have to order it again. It drove us nuts. It drove Stuart nuts.”Rattle had told Moir that he had sacked O’Neill many times. O’Neill had promised not to make the same mistakes and to adhere to new systems and turn up to daily meetings. Nothing worked.

Crises erupted regularly. O’Neill took great pride in solving what he had created. “It was all about trying to get around Michael and trying to get Michael to toe the line,” Moir says.

Plainly, Rattle tolerated such problems for a long time. He was known to describe O’Neill, with affection, as “f—— lazy”. But there had been recent shifts: Moir was frustrated to be with-held payments from Rattle’s business, considering the intimacy of their business relationship over many years.

Armadale antiques dealer Graham Geddes first identified “something wrong in the camp” several years ago. The growing complexities of the business were beyond O’Neill’s abilities, he says, and the pressures buckled Rattle and O’Neill’s personal relationship.

O’Neill had become more disorganised in recent years. Money owed to Geddes, who had first befriended and mentored Rattle more than three decades earlier, was not getting paid.

“I believe that Stuart was trying to pull the pin on the relationship,” he says. “That was definitely the go. Stuart had mentioned to me that he couldn’t cope with Michael and that he was incompetent.”

Another supplier, Hans Unger of Renaissance Parquet, says Rattle’s business faced the universal pressures of being owed money. “Towards the end, Michael was making horrible mistakes daily and I think that’s what put them into a real s—fight that day in Portsea,” Unger says. “I don’t think he was coping with the pressure of everything around him. It was all getting a bit too much.”

O’Neill himself volunteered the subject of mistakes during his police interview. He said Rattle always forgave him. O’Neill also admitted that he tried to cover up his mistakes, “almost like something a five-year-old does”.

He had recently tried a therapist, he said, because it had been a continuing issue. Yet the treatment hadn’t worked. He “couldn’t cope with it”.

“I sometimes create my own little bubble and pretend things don’t happen,” O’Neill said.

What was said on the final night of Rattle’s life? Did Rattle withdraw years of habitual forgiveness and trigger a dreadful choice described by Geddes as a “psychiatric problem”?

According to O’Neill, in his police interview, it had instead been a night of physical intimacy.

Stuart Rattle's office

Stuart Rattle’s office

THE Malvern St shopfront still bears Rattle’s name. Untended, it is an indictment to Rattle’s vibrancy. The blinds are drawn. Spiders have set up home. Dogs no longer trot and growl behind the window.

It’s said shrines to Rattle are better kept in private surrounds, where grief-struck clients know not where to turn. One woman has resorted to endless cups of tea and mournful reminiscences with a passing parade of home improvers who can never substitute for Rattle.

A while back, unable to source Rattle’s materials, she grew desperate. Someone with a black sense of humour suggested two options – a seance, to ask Rattle, or to try writing to Michael in jail.

The woman opted for the letter. Word is she got a helpful reply.

 

‘Thrill killer’ Thomas Hemming sentenced over Melbourne double murder


Judge considers media request for police interview with ‘thrill killer’ Thomas Hemming

Mon 12 Jan 2015, 3:40pm

A taped police interview with a man who stabbed a Melbourne couple to death last year is “not entertainment”, according to a Supreme Court judge considering a media request for access to the vision.

“Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of schoolchildren were traumatised by the murder of teacher Cheryl Adamson and her husband Robert, Justice Betty King said.

Ms Adamson, a librarian at Melbourne Grammar’s primary school, and her accountant husband were killed in their Murrumbeena home in Melbourne’s south-east last year by 21-year-old Thomas Hemming.

The double murder was described as a “thrill kill”, with Hemming telling police he had “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone” for several months.

Hemming lived in the same neighbourhood as the Adamsons, both aged in their 60s, and the court heard he chose the couple on a whim because he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

He was sentenced last year to 32 years in prison with a minimum term of 27 years

While handing down the decision, Justice King described his crimes as “savage, horrific and motiveless”.

“There is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general,” Justice King told Hemming.

She described Hemming’s prospects of rehabilitation as “exceedingly poor”.

Justice King was back in court on Monday to assess a media application from the A Current Affair and Sunday Night television programs for access to vision of Hemming’s police interview.

She questioned the timing of the request and said it was important to consider how many children had been affected by the murders.

“I’ve been approached by people I know, due to the fact they had children at the school where the deceased taught,” Justice King said.

“They say they’re so glad it (the case) is done and finished, because of the ongoing trauma of all those children.

“They were so traumatised… it upset the entire Year 12.

“This is not entertainment… this is really serious.

“It’s a very important and relevant consideration in this case… because the position occupied by the deceased teacher involves hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children.”

Justice King said she did not believe new coverage would be able to shed new light on the case.

“It’s inexplicable… really you can’t explain,” she said.

Hemming’s parents and siblings were in court to hear the application.

Justice King has reserved her decision.


 

Thrill killer‘ Thomas Hemming sentenced over Melbourne double murder

Updated 24 Oct 2014, 7:23pmFri 24 Oct 2014, 7:23pm

A 21-year-old man who stabbed a Melbourne couple for a thrill will spend 32 years in jail, with a minimum term of 27 years.

Thomas Hemming pleaded guilty to stabbing Robert and Cheryl Adamson to death in their home in Murrumbeena in February, in what prosecutors described as a “thrill kill”.

The court had previously heard Hemming “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone”, a fantasy he had for several months leading up to the killings.

The court heard he chose the Adamsons on a whim because he knew an elderly couple lived at the home, and he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

Hemming has admitted knocking on the couple’s door at 6:00am on February 19 after a night of drinking and asking them if he could use their telephone.

When Mr and Mrs Adamson let him in, Hemming set upon them with a knife he had ordered off the internet.

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

There is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general.

Justice Betty King

In sentencing, Justice Betty King said his crimes were “horrific” and “motiveless”.

She called it a “savage attack” on two decent, caring and helpful people that sent a “shudder of fear” throughout the community.

“The Adamsons suspected nothing and were behaving as good, decent caring neighbours,” she said.

“The circumstances of your offending are entirely inexplicable and incomprehensible to anyone involved in this matter and accordingly as a result are totally unnerving to every member of the community in which we live.”

Justice King said Hemming had “exceedingly poor prospects of rehabilitation”.

“You have pleaded guilty to these offences and you know what you did was wrong,” she said.

“But there is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again, as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general.”

During the trial, Hemming’s lawyer Damian Sheales, told the court his client had shown no empathy for his actions nor provided any detail about why he had carried out the killings, calling it “the most fathomless case I’ve come across”.

Hemming has Asperger’s syndrome, which was discussed during the trial as a possible cause for the attack, but his psychiatrist told the court people with Asperger’s were more likely to be vulnerable victims in the community than perpetrators.


 Melbourne couple murdered in ‘thrill kill’, attacker Thomas Hemming wanted to know what killing was like, court hears

Updated 14 Oct 2014, 1:14am

The man who randomly stabbed a Melbourne couple to death wanted to know what it was like to kill someone and had fantasies about it, a court has heard.

Thomas Hemming pleaded guilty to stabbing Robert and Cheryl Adamson to death in their home in Murrumbeena in February, in what prosecutors described as a “thrill kill”.

At Monday’s plea hearing, the court heard Hemming “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone”; a fantasy he had for several months leading up to the killings.

The court heard he chose the Adamsons on a whim because he knew an elderly couple lived at the home, and he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

Hemming has admitted knocking on the couple’s door at 6:00am on February 19 after a night of drinking and asking them if he could use their telephone.

When Mr and Mrs Adamson let him in, Hemming set upon them with a knife he had ordered off the internet.

The knife was found at the scene and Hemming was later found with blood on his clothes.

A terrifying sociopath with no feeling: Justice King

Hemming’s lawyer Damian Sheales, and his treating prison psychiatrist, told the court their client had shown no empathy for his actions, or provided any detail about why he had carried out the killings.

They also acknowledged there was no evidence he would not act similarly again in the event he was released.

“It’s the most fathomless case I’ve come across in all circumstances,” Mr Sheales said.

“As you can imagine, his own family are shattered.”

Justice Betty King described Hemming as “terrifying to us, terrifying to the community”.

“What is going on?” she said.

“He’s a sociopath … there’s no feeling, no empathy, no care … it’s truly terrifying.

“There’s nothing to indicate in any way that he’s not going to remain a danger.”

Hemming has Asperger’s syndrome, which was discussed as a possible cause for the attack, but his psychiatrist told the court people with Asperger’s were more likely to be vulnerable victims in the community than perpetrators.

Hemming showed no emotion as details of the case were read out.

He will be sentenced at a later date.


 

Thomas Hemming killed Robert and Cheryl Adamson in Murrumbeena home for the ‘thrill’, court hears

Date
October 13, 2014

Court Reporter for The Age

View more articles from Mark Russell

Thomas Hemming.
Thomas Hemming. Photo: Jason South

A Supreme Court judge has described as “terrifying” the case of a young man who had been thinking about killing someone for months before stabbing to death a much-loved couple in their Murrumbeena home.

“I have to say what’s going on?” Justice Betty King said on Monday during a pre-sentence hearing for Thomas Hemming, 21, who pleaded guilty to murdering Robert Adamson, 64, and his wife, Cheryl, 60, on February 19.

The judge said the case was the second “thrill kill” murder she had had to deal with in less than a year and looking at Hemming’s behaviour, she had to ask if he was a sociopath.

Hemming had tragically told his mother months earlier how he was preoccupied with killing someone and she had organised for him to see a psychologist but he cancelled the appointment.

The other ‘thrill kill’ case involved loner Gareth Giles who wrote an 18 point step-by-step plan on his computer on how to commit the perfect murder before he tied up and strangled a man near Geelong. Giles was jailed by Justice King for 26 years in April.

Chief Crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert, QC, told the court Hemming did not know the Adamsons, who had two children, Michael and Katie, when he decided to kill them, believing it was better to murder someone older.

Mr Silbert said Hemming,who worked in the Woolworths bottle shop at Carnegie, was living at home with his parents when he had a friend over on the night of February 18.

The pair were drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels whisky and listening to music before Hemming began to feel sick and vomited.

Hemming and his friend then went for a walk around the neighbourhood some time between 1am and 3am.

Mr Silbert said Hemming’s friend drove home at about 4am and Hemming went back to his house before deciding to act out his fantasy of killing someone.

Hemming, who lived only 160 metres from the Adamsons’ house in Omama Road, had ordered a Cold Steel Marauder knife from a Queensland company online in October 2013.

Wearing black leather gloves and a black leather coat, Hemming took the knife and walked to the Adamsons’ home where he knocked on the door at about 6am and asked to use the phone.

Mr Silbert said the Adamsons, who were both wearing pyjamas, invited Hemming inside in the spirit of being good neighbours.

Hemming followed the couple down the hall before attacking Mr Adamson, an accountant, in the living room area, stabbing him repeatedly.

Mrs Adamson, a librarian at Melbourne Grammar School, hit Hemming over the head with a broom trying to save her husband of 33 years.

The prosecutor said Hemming then stabbed Mrs Adamson in the neck, chest and back before walking home and hiding his bloodied clothes under his bed.

Mrs Adamson’s brother, Craig Collier, in a victim impact statement read to the court, said he could not fathom what was going through his sister’s mind as she tried to stop Hemming from attacking her husband.

“Life will never be the same for any of us,” Mr Collier, who lives in Washington, said.

“My sister was more loved than anyone I know.”

Mr Collier asked: would Hemming having the same desire to kill again if he was ever released?

He had been unable to tell his 86-year-old mother that his sister had been murdered, instead telling her that the Adamsons had died in a car accident.

Defence barrister Damian Sheales told the court one of the most troubling aspects of the case was the senseless nature of it.

Mr Sheales said Hemming had the autism spectrum disorder Asperger syndrome but it did not explain his offending.

Psychiatrist Dr Daniel Sullivan said people with Asperger syndrome were usually more likely to be victims of violence and more vulnerable in the community.

Justice King said Hemming killed the Adamsons and took steps to try to avoid being caught which showed he was aware what he had done was wrong.

Hemming will be sentenced at a later date.


Bryson Anderson murder: Family and colleagues confront killers Mitchell and Fiona Barbieri in court


Mongel dog cop killers get eye-balled by colleagues, family and friends of slain police officer Bryson Anderson and ball their eyes out.

By court reporter Karl Hoerr

Mon 24 Nov 2014

Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson, who was killed at a rural property in Oakville.

Photo: Family and colleagues described their grief over the murder of Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson. (Facebook: NSW Police.)

Family and colleagues of a Sydney police officer murdered nearly two years ago have described their continuing grief over his stabbing death during a sentencing hearing for his killers.

One by one, those closest to Bryson Anderson rose to speak at the sentencing hearing for Mitchell and Fiona Barbieri.

The 45-year-old Detective Inspector was fatally stabbed during a siege of a home at Oakville in Sydney’s north-west.

His 13-year-old son told the court he has been denied the rite of passage of having his father teach him to shave.

“I had to learn this skill alone, without him by my side,” he said.

He spoke about his difficulties enjoying cricket, something he used to share with his father.

You should save the tears that you have shed from the dock. You will not be forgiven

Bryson Anderson’s brother, Warwick Anderson

Mitchell Barbieri, who attacked Detective Anderson with a knife and has pleaded guilty to murder, cried in the dock as the victim impact statements were read out.

His mother, Fiona Barbieri, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of mental illness and showed little emotion.

The officer’s brother, Warwick Anderson, addressed Mitchell Barbieri directly.

“You should save the tears that you have shed from the dock. You will not be forgiven,” Mr Anderson said.

Widow Donna Anderson said she had lost her best friend.

“I never contemplated how it would feel to be on the other side of a police investigation,” she said.

Colleagues who witnessed the attack spoke of their guilt and extreme difficulty returning to work.

Sergeant Adam Fitzgibbon said: “At times, I question myself. How did I let this happen to Bryson?”

Senior Constable Neil Constable said Detective Anderson had praised his work just hours before he was murdered.

“He told me to keep it up and keep locking up the crooks,” he said.

Justice Robert Allan Hulme appeared visibly moved by the statements.

“It’s simply astounding that such a senseless act can have so many victims,” he said.

The sentencing hearing continues.


Mother and son to stand trial for stabbing murder of Sydney police officer Bryson Anderson

Wed 11 Dec 2013, 6:39pm

A mother and son have been committed to stand trial for the stabbing murder of Sydney police officer Bryson Anderson.

Fiona Barbieri, 46, and her 20-year-old son Mitchell Barbieri are accused of killing Detective Inspector Anderson when he was called to a neighbourhood dispute at Oakville in Sydney’s north-west in 2012.

They are charged with murder and wounding with intent to resist arrest.

In Central Local Court magistrate Chris O’Brien has ordered them to stand trial in February 2014.

Police say they went to the property in December 2012 after an urgent call from a neighbour.

The officer was one of a large contingent of police called to the Oakfield home to attend a heated dispute between neighbours.

They say the Barbieri’s fired arrows at them from the house.

Officers say when the Detective Inspector tried to negotiate with them he was stabbed in the neck by Mitchell Barbieri and his mother Fiona Barbieri hit the officer with a hammer.

Magistrate O’Brien said after hearing the evidence there is a “reasonable prospect” a jury would “convict the accused”.

The mother and son have not yet entered a plea to the charges but will be required to in February.

Outside court members of his family told reporters they are pleased the Barbieri’s will stand trial.

Police officer in tears

During the committal hearing today police officer Constable Hannah Watson broke down in tears while giving evidence.

She told the hearing she thought her duty officer had been punched, because she could not see a weapon in Mitchell Barbieri’s hand.

When the officer began sobbing the court was adjourned to allow her to compose herself.

One officer described Fiona Barbieri screaming at police to leave, using foul language.

In court two new charges of resisting arrest were laid against the mother and son.


‘He deserves to f****** die’: Court hears how police-killing mother and son shouted as their victim died… before emailing Russian president Vladimir Putin demanding asylum

  • Fiona Barbieri, and her son Mitchell, pleaded guilty to killing Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson in 2012 
  • Following her arrest, Fiona defended their actions as self-defence during a police interview 
  • The Barbieris had also sent emails to Tony Abbott and Mr Putin, saying: ‘We have every right to defend ourselves, our family and our property’
  • Inspector Anderson died after he was stabbed by then 19-year-old Mitchell Barbieri following a siege at their rural Oakville property
  • As he lay dying, the court heard that Fiona was heard yelling, ‘it’s his own f****** fault… he deserves to f****** die’
  • His family remember him as a larrikin with a great sense of humour
  • He also volunteered as a firefighter and in the Special Olympics  

A Sydney mother, who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a police officer in 2012, sent emails to the Prime Minister and the Russian President in which she defended herself and demanded asylum.

Fiona Barbieri, 47, and her 21-year-old son Mitchell, attended their sentencing hearing in Sydney’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, where the full details surrounding the death of Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson were revealed.

Inspector Anderson died after he was fatally stabbed by then 19-year-old Mitchell Barbieri following a siege at a rural Oakville property in Sydney’s north-west on December 6, 2012.

The police interview of Fiona Barbieri after her arrest in 2012, following the death of a policeman at her  property in Sydney's north-west, was shown to Sydney's Supreme Court on Wednesday

The police interview of Fiona Barbieri after her arrest in 2012, following the death of a policeman at her  property in Sydney’s north-west, was shown to Sydney’s Supreme Court on Wednesday

The 41-year-old and her 21-year-old son Mitchell (pictured) pleaded guilty to killing Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson

The 41-year-old and her 21-year-old son Mitchell (pictured) pleaded guilty to killing Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson

During a police interview following the Barbieri’s arrests in 2012, the 47-year-old mother who is believed to have been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, told officers that Inspector Anderson had been killed in self-defence before demanding asylum in Russia.

In the footage of the police interview attained by Channel Nine, Fiona is heard saying: ‘what happened at our house today, where we were ambushed by an army of police officers, was self-defence.’

She is then handed a telephone by the officers who allow her to call the consulate, to whom she says: ‘It is the Barbieris, president Putin, SOS Australia.’

According to Channel Nine, Fiona was advised by the consulate to forward her request via email, after which she refused to answer further questions from the policemen.

DECORATED police officer Bryson Anderson was "struck" by "two quick jabbing moves around a doorway" by a teenager with a "deliberate intention", a court has heard today.

The accounts of Detective Inspector Anderson's colleagues, who witnessed his death at a home in Oakville on December 6 last year, have been revealed during a pre committal hearing.

Mitchell Barbieri, 19, and his mother Fiona Barbieri, 45, have been charged with Inspector Anderson's murder after the seasoned officer was called to the property over a neighbourhood dispute and then fatally stabbed.

Inspector Anderson (pictured) died after he was fatally stabbed by then 19-year-old Mitchell following a siege at his rural Oakville home on December 6, 2012

In the police interview, Fiona is handed a telephone after demanding asylum in Russia. Police allowed her to call the consulate, to whom she says: 'It is the Barbieris, president Putin, SOS Australia'

In the police interview, Fiona is handed a telephone after demanding asylum in Russia. Police allowed her to call the consulate, to whom she says: ‘It is the Barbieris, president Putin, SOS Australia’

Fiona Barbieri arrives at the Supreme Court in Sydney for her sentencing  hearing on Wednesday

‘We are living here in convict Australia, corrupt convict Australia, and we have been doing our best to get out,’ she told officers.

‘The New South Wales police force is corrupt – that is what we have been standing up against and that is why we are in here today.’ 

Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Fiona and her son had been embroiled in a long-running dispute with their neighbour, which had been fuelled by Ms Barbieri’s paranoia.

On December 6, the tension spiralled out of control when the Barbieris spotted that Mr Waters was installing flood lights on his property.

Fiona – swinging a baseball bat – and Mitchell – armed with a crossbow – confronted the electricians working for Mr Waters.

The wife and brother of slain police officer  Anderson, Donna (left) and Warwick (right), leave the Supreme Court after the hearing

The parents of Mr Anderson, Red and Shirley Anderson, were also seen leaving the Supreme Court on Wednesday

Earlier in the month, the Barbieris cried and hugged in the dock as they prepared to plea to their roles in the death of Detective Inspector Anderson

Mitchell fired two arrows, narrowly missing them both, before he and his mother retreated into their home.

As the first police arrived, the court heard the Barbieris sent an email to a number of politicians, including then opposition leader Tony Abbott and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying: ‘We have every right to defend ourselves, our family and our property.’

Just over an hour later, it had become a ‘siege situation’ with Fiona and Mitchell screaming at police to ‘f*** off’.

Det Insp Anderson ordered the door to be kicked in and was stabbed twice by Mitchell – once in the cheek and fatally to the chest, Mr Tedeschi said.

As he lay dying, the court heard that Fiona was heard screaming, ‘it’s his own f****** fault.. he fucking deserved it… let the dog c*** die… he deserves to f****** die’.

The policemand wife Donna, said her husband absolutely adored their three children

The policemans wife Donna, said her husband absolutely adored their three children

Murdered police officer Bryson Anderson honoured by family

Bryson Anderson with his wife Donna and children from left to right - Darcy, Cain and Olivia

Bryson Anderson with his wife Donna and children from left to right – Darcy, Cain and Olivia

On the morning they were due to stand trial last week, Mitchell pleaded guilty to the officer’s murder, while his mother – who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia – pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of substantial impairment.

Under legislation passed before parliament, a person convicted of the murder of a police officer while on duty faces a mandatory life sentence.

But Mr Tedeschi said this was not a situation where life imprisonment should apply as Mitchell was influenced by his mother’s delusions.

‘He (Mitchell) had been under the influence of his mother … and her delusions had to some degree been transferred to him,’ Mr Tedeschi said.

Olivia, Cain and Darcy could not speak highly enough of their deceased father

Olivia, Cain and Darcy could not speak highly enough of their deceased father

At officer Anderson's 2012 funeral, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the decorated officer was greatly admired by his fellow officers

Instead, he said the crown would be seeking a ‘very lengthy’ sentence.

Earlier in the month, Inspector Anderson’s family honoured the man who was a much-loved husband and father of three.

Bryson’s widow Donna Anderson and their three children Olivia, Darcy and Cain could not wipe the smiles off their faces when they told fond stories of how Bryson was always the larrikin of the family.

‘There was the policeman side to him which was incredibly serious – he took his job very seriously -but there was the family side of him where he was just the clown in every family gathering,’ Donna told Channel Nine’s ACA.

‘He just absolutely adored his kids,’ she said. He was a typical dad – he loved dad jokes and if he could embarrass the kids in front of their friends that was even better.’

Police officers and family attend the funeral of the slain officer at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Parramatta in 2012 

Police officers and family attend the funeral of the slain officer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta in 2012 

The family privately continue to struggle with their loss, and it will be some time before they finally come to terms with the tragedy

The family privately continue to struggle with their loss, and it will be some time before they finally come to terms with the tragedy

His three children could not speak highly enough of their father.

‘He would totally just love life – it was awesome,’ his only daughter Olivia said. ‘Yes, he liked to embarrass us.’

His eldest son, Darcy said he was a great dad who was always a joker.

‘He photo bombed a lot – my first cricket game in my photo – he was in the background,’ he said.

‘Cricket is my life – me and dad built the pitch out the front in 2003 I think.’

‘We got tonnes of dirt and just rolled it and got it all padded down and I just keep mowing it in.’

Bryson's only daughter Olivia said her father had a great love for life

Bryson’s only daughter Olivia said her father had a great love for life

Darcy loves cricket so much that his father helped build him a cricket pitch in their front yard

Darcy loves cricket so much that his father helped build him a cricket pitch in their front yard

Youngest son Cain said his father was always a joker who 'photo-bombed a lot'

Youngest son Cain said his father was always a joker who ‘photo-bombed a lot’

‘He would totally just love life – it was awesome,’ his only daughter Olivia (left) said. ‘Yes, he liked to embarrass us’ 

Bryson's family described him as a joker who had a great sense of humour

Bryson’s family described him as a joker who had a great sense of humour

‘He was always a joker – he photo-bombed a lot,’ his youngest son Cain said. 

While being dedicated to his family and career, he also managed to squeeze in volunteering with the Special Olympics, travelling to Vanuatu to give gifts to children and also volunteering as a firefighter.

‘He would come home from the police sometimes he would only be there for an hours or so and then the bells would go off and he would go out to a fire call and he did that for nine years,’ Donna said.

During the committal hearing last year, a number of police officers broke down as they recalled the murder.

At Detective Inspector Anderson’s 2012 funeral, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the decorated officer was admired by his fellow officers for his tenacity and determination, as well as his empathy and compassion.

‘He showed initiative and leadership; intelligence and perseverance; dedication and humility; and, memorably, a ready smile and an engaging way.

‘Bryson drew people to him, without guile and without effort.’

The matter will return to court later this month.

Mother and son Fiona and Mitchell Barbieri plead not guilty to Sydney policeman Bryson Anderson’s murder

Fri 7 Feb 2014, 1:41pm

 A mother and son accused of murdering a Sydney police officer have pleaded not guilty.

Fiona and Mitchell Barbieri formally entered their pleas in the NSW Supreme Court this morning ahead of their trial later this year.

The 46-year-old and her 20-year-old son were charged after the death of Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson at Oakville on Sydney’s north-western outskirts in December 2012.

Inspector Anderson was part of a large contingent of police called to attend a heated neighbourhood dispute.

Police say the Barbieri’s fired arrows at them from their house.

Inspector Anderson then tried to negotiate with the pair for several minutes, when he was allegedly stabbed in the neck by Mitchell Barbieri and hit with a hammer by Fiona Barbieri.

The 45-year-old officer was rushed by paramedics to Windsor Hospital but died soon afterwards.

The Barbieris have also pleaded not guilty to additional charges laid late last year of wounding with intent to resist arrest.

In an earlier hearing a fellow officer who witnessed Inspector Anderson’s death broke down in court as she recalled the events.

Constable Hannah Watson told the court she initially thought her duty officer had been punched, because she could not see a weapon in Mitchell Barbieri’s hand.


Mother, son admit to killing police officer Bryson Anderson

Updated 5 Nov 2014, 3:19pmWed 5 Nov 2014, 3:19pm

A mother and son have pleaded guilty to killing a New South Wales police officer called to their home in Sydney’s north-west.

According to police, Mitchell Barbieri, 21, and his 47-year-old mother, Fiona, barricaded themselves inside their Oakville home when New South Wales police officer Bryson Anderson responded to an urgent call from neighbours in December 2012.

They say the pair fired arrows at the officer and attacked the 45-year-old with a knife and a hammer.

Mitchell Barbieri pleaded guilty to murdering Anderson, while Fiona Barbieri pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Prosecutors accepted her guilty plea to the lesser charge because she had “a substantial impairment brought about by an abnormality of mind” at the time.

The pair made their pleas in the Supreme Court the day their six-week trial was due to start.

They will return to court next week for a sentencing hearing.

Anderson, who held the rank of Detective Inspector, was one of several officers who attended the Barbieris’ home after reports of a feud between neighbours.

Colleagues say that when he tried to negotiate with the family, he was stabbed in the neck by Mitchel Barbieri and hit with a hammer by his mother.

White Ribbon Day Nov 25th 2014. What are you doing to stop the violence?


NOV25

EVENTS CAN BE FOUND HERE http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/events

White Ribbon is Australia’s only national, male led Campaign to end men’s violence against women.

Vision
All women live in safety free from all forms of men’s violence.

Mission
Making women’s safety a man’s issue too.

The campaign works through primary prevention initiatives involving awareness raising and education, and programs with youth, schools, workplaces and across the broader community.

Globally, White Ribbon is the world’s largest male-led movement to end men’s violence against women. Originating in Canada in 1991, White Ribbon is now active in more than 60 countries.

White Ribbon began in Australia in 2003 as part of UNIFEM (now UN Women), formally becoming a Foundation in 2007.

White Ribbon Australia observes the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day, annually on November 25. White Ribbon Day signals the start of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on Human Rights Day (December 10).


Thousands march in Melbourne against family violence amid calls for health officials to do more

Tue 25 Nov 2014, 8:31pm

Walk Against Family Violence

Thousands took to Melbourne’s streets to take part in the Walk Against Family Violence (ABC News)

Related Story: Defence force, military get behind White Ribbon Day

One woman is killed by a violent partner each week in Australia.

Two of the leading figures in the fight against family violence, Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay and Rosie Batty, led more than 1,000 people through the streets of Melbourne today in a march to stop violence against women.

On the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Mr Lay said Australia could not arrest its way out of the situation.

“I think that for far too long family violence and resolving family violence has been left in the hands of police,” he said.

“We cannot simply arrest our way out of this. We need to change attitudes, it’s in the schooling, it’s in families.

“Clearly, fathers and mothers have got a responsibility to teach their children about gender inequity, teach their children to treat each other decently.

“They are partly responsible for this, no doubt.”

There were also calls for doctors and health officials to do much more to stop family violence, with new research published in The Lancet.

Professor Kelsey Hegarty, who co-authored the Lancet paper, is a GP and the head of primary care at the University of Melbourne’s Department of General Practice.

She said the health system needed to be more focussed and streamlined when it came to addressing family violence.

“What we’re really looking for health professionals to do is provide a first line response that listens, validates, acknowledges what women and girls have been through in terms of violence against women and provides them with a pathway to safety and healing,” she said.

“To do that we need to strengthen the role of the health sector.”

Health sector ‘lacks awareness, training’ in family violence

In January 2013 Professor Hegarty called for GPs to be trained to recognise signs of domestic violence.

Since then, she said the health system had been slow to recognise the need for change.

“I think there’s been a large movement in the awareness in community campaigns with the development of Our Watch and other activities through White Ribbon,” she said.

“So I think people are becoming more aware that domestic violence or family violence is a problem in our community.

“What we haven’t found is the health sector responding.

We haven’t got very large awareness as a result of a lack of training among health care providers.

Professor Kelsey Hegarty

“We haven’t got regular training or supervisional mentorship in medical nursing or public health or other curricular on a regular basis.

“We haven’t got very large awareness as a result of a lack of training among health care providers.”

Professor Hegarty said substantial system and behavioural barriers existed in the health system.

“We haven’t got an enabling policy environment,” she said.

The Lancet paper examined five country case studies, including India and Spain, and how they responded and dealt with family violence.

Professor Hegarty said developing low-income countries such as India had made progress in addressing family violence in conjunction with their HIV-AIDs strategy.

“In fact, it’s been interesting to look at people who have done violence interventions attached to health interventions for HIV,” she said.

“That’s been showing some promise in a way we haven’t had those epidemics like that, and therefore I think health has been a little bit behind.”

She said Australia had a large focus on the national plan, which has been excellent to prevent violence against women and children.

“(But) it needs a whole spectrum across the ecological model from the community,” she added.

“(An) ecological model goes from a community to an individual, and often a health practitioner is seeing someone at an individual level. We need everybody to be activated.”


 

White Ribbon Day sparks more than 1,000 events across Australia in campaign against domestic violence

Tue 25 Nov 2014, 12:07pm

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has praised the involvement of Australia’s military in White Ribbon Day, saying it sends a signal that strong men protect others and do not condone domestic violence.

Speaking at a White Ribbon Day function in Canberra, Mr Abbott said shocking statistics associated with domestic violence crimes prompted the Government to allocate $100 million as part of an action plan to combat violence against women.

“It’s really good to see the participation of our armed forces in White Ribbon Day … because the presence of our armed forces, the presence of our police is a sign that tough, strong men protect others, they don’t persecute them. That the toughest and the strongest men are peacemakers, not brutes,” he said.

“Every week a woman dies somewhere in our country in a domestic context. One woman in three will experience violence at some stage of her life.

“One woman in five will experience sexual violence at some stage in her life. It’s just wrong. It must stop,” he said.

“Government has a role to play, that’s why this Government is investing some $100 million in our Second Action Plan to combat violence against women.”

Army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison told a White Ribbon breakfast in Adelaide stories about the ANZAC spirit also needed a greater focus on the women who were involved.

He said many stories about World War I focused on stories about Anglo Saxon men.

“Unless they’re (women) included in the story, I think what we run the risk of is compounding this idea that Australia is a man’s country, a man’s world, where men get ahead,” he said.

“Men are promoted on their potential, women are only ever promoted on their proven performance. I don’t think we’re going to progress as a nation if that’s the case.”

Luke Batty death brought issue home for victims

White Ribbon ambassador John Caldwell told the ABC’s Breakfast program the tragic death of 11-year-old Luke Batty at the hands of his father earlier this year had brought the issue to the forefront of people’s minds.

“When I saw his (Luke’s) photo and I thought, ‘that could have been me,’ and never before have I really thought of myself as one of the lucky ones, but that made me feel like I was one of the lucky ones,” Mr Caldwell said.

Mr Caldwell was nominated as Australian of the Year for Victoria in 2014 and said the nomination of Luke’s mother Rosie Batty for Australian of the Year in 2015 helped to highlight why the issue of domestic violence should be taken seriously.

It is about men leading the action because most of this violence against women is perpetrated by men, and so men need to be speaking to their mates and using their influence to change those attitudes and behaviours.

White Ribbon chief executive Libby Davies.

“I grew up in Melbourne in a house that was plagued by domestic violence,” he said.

“I guess as a kid hiding under the bed I always felt so helpless and now as an adult, I don’t need to. I get to take back the power that I lost as a kid, but also to educate other children that you don’t have to stay silent yourself.

“Even for kids, there are people you can talk to. As a child, hiding under a bed hearing screams outside and not sure what you will find when you eventually walk out – I used to liken it to, as the eye of a cyclone. It would go quiet. Is it safe to go out? And then it erupts again.”

Mr Caldwell said nobody came to help despite people knowing what was happening and White Ribbon Day was about breaking that silence.

“It was known what was going on outside of the house and nobody would do anything, and that’s why White Ribbon Day is so important, because it is a male-led campaign,” he said.

White Ribbon chief executive Libby Davies said more than 1,000 events would be held across Australia to promote White Ribbon Day, including a walk through Melbourne’s CBD by members of both the Melbourne and Richmond Football Clubs as part of the Walk Against Family Violence.

“It is about men leading the action because most of this violence against women is perpetrated by men, and so men need to be speaking to their mates and using their influence to change those attitudes and behaviours,” she said.

NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch said several hundred people, mostly men, had marched from Randwick to Coogee in Sydney’s east in an event co-hosted with Randwick Council this morning.

He said those present, including many police officers, pledged an oath to help reduce violence against women.

“The oath is all about never ever condoning or committing acts of violence against women in any form. It’s about having those conversations with men acting as role models for other men,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner Murdoch said domestic violence cases were the single biggest crime police attended.

Phone app hidden function to protect domestic violence victims

In a bid to help protect victims of domestic violence, a free Australian mobile phone app was been launched in time for White Ribbon Day.

Buzz News looks like a regular news app on a mobile phone, but has a hidden function that allows people to secretly contact friends and call for help.

Developed by the Lisa Harnum Foundation, the app was named after the woman who was murdered by her partner Simon Gittany in Sydney in 2011.

Foundation executive director Aileen Mountifield said the phone app could save lives.

“If a perpetrator is used to checking his partner’s phone all that will come up is news, entertainment news, sports news, local news, national news,” she said.

“So that’s a deterrent hopefully that he won’t go to the help button because under the help button she would have stored her safe contacts, so if in distress all she has to do is open the app and press send.”

Northern Territory to launch online public sex offender register-Please follow suit


Bruce and Denise Morcombe

Photo: Bruce and Denise Morcombe attended the announcement of the NT’s public sex offender register. (ABC News: Ruby Jones)

Convicted sex offenders in the Northern Territory will soon have their name, image, physical description and whereabouts posted on a government website.

Legislation announced today has been named Daniel’s Law after Queensland teenager Daniel Morcombe, who was murdered in 2003 by a convicted sex offender on parole.

Although details have not been finalised, it was believed all of the information published about a sex offender would be publicly accessible.

The NT Criminal Lawyers Association slammed the idea, saying naming and shaming made it harder for offenders to rehabilitate without making anyone safer.

NT Attorney-General John Elferink said it would be the first website of its kind in Australia and it was expected to be launched next year.

Western Australia has an online sex register but access has several tiers of restrictions.

It is not yet clear how approximate the location information for the NT register will be. Mr Elferink said the website would include the “regional whereabouts”.

We truly hope that the introduction of Daniel’s Law will prevent another family going through the pain and grief we experienced following Daniel’s death.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe

“We’ll list them by geographical region reasonably close to where [people] live. It is not a system of exact addresses,” he said.

“They will be able to see who the sexual predators are in the community. They’ll be able to recognise the sexual predators and protect their children.

“We believe that the public’s right to know takes precedence over the privacy concerns for serious sex offenders.

“The initiative will allow individuals and families to familiarise themselves with important details and be more vigilant about named serious sex offenders living in and around the area.”

Daniel’s Law modelled on Megan’s Law in US

The NT chose to pursue its own legislation after a proposed national sex offenders register was knocked back at the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, according to Mr Elferink.

“From our perspective if it’s not done at a Commonwealth level then we’re going to do it in the NT and proudly so,” he said.

“Does a government make this information available or not? The answer from the NT is ‘yes, yes we do’.

“There is no guarantee a website would have protected Daniel. We know we should pull out all stops as a society and as a community to create for parents an environment to protect their children.”

He said the NT system would be modelled on Megan’s Law in the United States – the informal name for sex offender registration and community notification laws, which have been passed at US federal and state levels.

However, unlike Megan’s Law, Daniel’s Law will not list offenders’ exact address.

The Attorney-General said the Government had not yet decided on the definition of “serious sex offender”.

“We’ll create a definition which is appropriate and then have further flexible arrangements to make sure the right people are placed on our serious sex offenders website.”

He said parents were in a better position to protect their child when they were armed with detailed information.

“While the Northern Territory Police will continue to track and monitor around 200 sex offenders in the community, this tool is designed to deliver information to the community about the most serious offenders in an easy, user-friendly way,” he said.

‘You’d hate to be the last state to have a register’

Daniel’s parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe, who have been calling for the introduction of a national child sex offender register, said they hoped the NT register would spread across the country.

“Of course sometimes one can imagine the paedophiles and the predators on the NT sex offenders register may well not want to be in the NT any longer,” Mr Morcombe said.

“They may migrate to other states and territories.

“You’d hate to be the last state to have a sex offenders register up and running. You’re going to get truckloads of people you don’t want in your state.”

The couple, who were in Darwin for the announcement, said they commended the NT’s decision.

“The NT has taken a leadership step,” Mr Morcombe said. “They were the first to do so.

“This is for ordinary Australians. It is to get the good people at arms length from the predators.

“We want protection for our kids.

“Daniel’s Law we are confident will assist in the mission to make sure kids of Australia are safe.

“We think it is breathtakingly simple but at the end of the day will make a massive difference for children right around the country.

“I am sure the feedback from that will migrate to other states and they’ll say, ‘Why not us?'”

Daniel disappeared when he was 13 while waiting for a bus at Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in 2003.

His remains were found in bushland eight years later.

His convicted killer, Brett Peter Cowan, had a long history of sexually abusing children.

He had been arrested and sentenced in 1989 for two years in jail after molesting a boy in a public toilets.

Four years later, while living in a caravan park in Darwin, Cowan attacked a six-year-old boy. He later pleaded guilty to gross indecency, grievous bodily harm and deprivation of liberty.

He was sentenced to seven years’ jail and released on parole four years later.

‘Terrible idea will turn people into vigilantes’

Public online sex registers make it harder for offenders to rehabilitate, increase the chance they will re-offend, and do not make anyone safer, according to NT Criminal Lawyers Association president Russell Goldflam.

He said the NT Government’s proposal was “terrible”.

From our perspective if it’s not done at a Commonwealth level then we’re going to do it in the NT and proudly so. Does a government make this information available or not? The answer from the NT is ‘yes, yes we do’.

John Elferink, NT Attorney-General

“Laws like this have been tried in the US, mainly over the last couple of decades,” he said. “They don’t result in anyone being safer or the level of recidivism being decreased.

“There are some real costs. They are expensive to run but more importantly is they can get in the way of people being rehabilitated.

“This can result in people going underground instead of engaging with those who can assist them to stop reoffending

“In a place like the the NT we expect anyone who is going to be put on the register will leave the NT and go somewhere else. That doesn’t help anybody. It just makes it harder to keep track of them.”

He said the system would further stigmatise, prejudice and stereotype convicted sex offenders.

“A very significant range of laws operate to protect the community from people who may be at risk of reoffending,” he said. “There is already a register, already a provision for for identifying offenders, already laws to detain serious repeat sex offenders.

“Where these laws have been passed in the US – and they have in some places included exact places where people live – vigilantes have murdered people on the list or people they believe are on the list, even if they weren’t child sex offenders.

“The Attorney-General says this will make people be more vigilant.

“Our concern is this will make more people into vigilantes.”

Toni McHugh-Who are You? Go away now


Courtesy of Australian Women’s Weekly…

Toni McHugh: ‘My future with Gerard included his children’

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The mistress of convicted wife-killer Gerard Baden-Clay believed she would eventually build a life with him and his three young daughters.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly, Toni McHugh has opened up about how she and the now convicted murderer had high hopes of setting up house together and getting shared custody of his children.

McHugh, who was engaged in a four year affair with Baden-Clay when he violently killed his wife of 14 years,  Allison Baden-Clay, says she always considered the couple’s children when they discussed a life together.

“The future I was planning with Gerard, it actually included them. It included Allison! I thought we would all get to the point where we all, you know, shared custody, like adults and got on,” she told The Weekly.

Related: Gerard Baden-Clay’s secret life of betrayal revealed

The former real estate salesperson also shared unsettling details about the moment she came close to Allison’s body.

“We drove over that bridge, and she was under there, and later that day, maybe around noon, we heard a woman’s body has been found, and I knew straight away – instantly – that it was Allison,” Ms McHugh said.

When asked whether or not she felt responsible for Allison’s untimely death, McHugh, who describes herself as ‘Australia’s Monica Lewinsky’ – the most famous White House intern in history, said ‘No’.

Related: Gerard Baden-Clay’s colleague tells: ‘I was working with a murderer’

“It is horrible to have it said that you are the motive (for murder),” she said.

“But no, I’m sorry, he wasn’t thinking about me. He was thinking about himself.”

While McHugh admits she’s still trying to come to terms with what’s happened, she is now planning to write a book about the case.

“I’m the only one who can tell this story,” she said.

Gerard Baden-Clay was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 15 years behind bars for killing Allison and dumping her body in Brisbane’s Kholo Creek.

Read more of this story in the August issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly. 

28 Aussies among 298 killed as Malaysia Airlines ‘blown out of sky’ by missile over Ukraine


Please NOTE This Community is too important to let any individual ruin it for others!

From now on, bullying in any form will result in ONE WARNING FROM ME (ROBBO) and 2nd time will result in an instant ban from the site.

We are here to discuss important things, not to make personal attacks. Admin (ROBBO) will be the one who determines whether or not a message is deemed as bullying or inappropriate. Thank you for your cooperation

(Robbo, owner and operator of aussiecriminals)

Make no mistake this, is a terrorist attack on 298 citizens of the world, but sad and importantly for us here, on 28 Australians and their family and friends…

This was originally a page I made yesterday but I can’t stick pages to top of site.

 

MH17: Investigators find large part of plane and more bodies at Malaysia Airlines crash site

25/07/14 2pm

Investigators have found a previously undiscovered part of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 along with more bodies more than a week after the Boeing 777 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

It is understood the location of the bodies has been marked with a white flag, but investigators do not have the facilities available to handle human remains.

The discovery has highlighted an urgent need for the area to be thoroughly searched, but continued fighting in the surrounding region has hampered the efforts of investigators.

A spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Michael Bociurkiw, says the piece of fuselage that was found “appeared out of nowhere”.

“The most significant find today was we went into a heavily wooded area and found a huge piece of fuselage,” Mr Bociurkiw said.

“I think this is the part of the plane that came down which … travellers would say resembles an airline. The windows were still intact and if one wanted to they could even climb inside and be covered.

“It almost appeared out of nowhere because there were no tell-tale signs, no broken branches, nothing to indicate that a piece of fuselage had landed there.”

Mr Bociurkiw said investigators were also closely examining the area of the crash site where the cockpit had landed.

“The other thing the investigators took an interest in was the cockpit area because there are still personal and professional belongings of the crew in there,” he said.

“There is also a lot of sensitivity around human remains … and for the second day in a row we did come across more human remains, not much, but it does indicate that they are there and … that a very detailed sweep of the entire area will probably be needed to make sure nothing is missed.”

The head of the Dutch police mission in Ukraine, Jan Tuinder, says it remains difficult to get access to the crash site.

Pro-Russian rebels have continually caused problems during the investigation, blocking access to the site and harassing recovery workers.

“The process is not over. There are still remains [at the site] and it’s very hard to get there because there are some – and I would say it’s not politically correct – but there are still some lunatics there,” Mr Tuinder said.

“It’s very hard for us to get to the remains.”

However, the OSCE says there were no incidents overnight, as they were joined by experts from Australia and Malaysia.

Australian specialists join teams working to identify remains

Meanwhile Australian specialists have joined teams in the Netherlands working on the identification of remains from the MH17 crash.

Three Australian officials, including a forensic specialist, have also visited the crash site for the first time, which is now officially the responsibility of Dutch investigators.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this morning signed an agreement with her Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, allowing Australian investigators to work at the site.

The Government says it will help Australian officials move around and give them legal cover in Ukraine.

“I feel confident that with the legal and operational matters underway that we’ll be in a position to start work on the site without much further delay,” Ms Bishop said.

Asked whether families should prepare themselves for a delay of weeks or even longer before the bodies of the 298 victims are sent home, Ms Bishop said: “We’re not talking about weeks, we’re talking about days.

“I am very optimistic after today’s meetings that we will have had in place the legal and operational framework that will enable our mission to be carried out as soon as possible,” she said.

The Government has sent 50 Australian Federal Police officers to London, with a view to possibly joining an international force, but no decision has yet been made.

Another 74 bodies have been flown into the city of Eindhoven, where they will be examined by forensics experts for identification.

An RAAF C17 and a Dutch military plane were used to transport the second group of bodies to Eindhoven.

A formal reception was once again staged on the tarmac and crowds gathered at the air base’s gates to pay their respects as the procession of hearses passed.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian people face fresh elections in October after their prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned.

Both parties have now pulled out of the government, causing it to collapse. However, in 30 days the president will be able to call fresh elections with the aim to get rid of the old administration.

ABC/wires

MH17: Devastation as human face of tragedy becomes clearer

The attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has claimed the lives of 28 Australians, who were among the 298 passengers and crew on board.

A Catholic nun, an estate agent, a teacher, a husband-and-wife pair of doctors, a businessman and his three grandchildren are just some of those Australian lives lost.

They were returning home but never made it. For their families and friends, life will never be the same.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke for many when he said the tragedy was “a grim day for our country and a grim day for the world”.

“We bleed for them, we grieve for them and we will do everything we can.”

Here are the Australians so far feared to have lost their lives

Malaysia Airlines MH17: Devastation as the list of Australian victims is revealed

A Catholic nun, an estate agent, a teacher, a husband-and-wife pair of doctors, a businessman and his three pre-teen grandchildren. Just some of the Australian lives cut short by the attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Twenty-eight Australians were returning home with Malaysia Airlines, but never made it. For their families and friends, life will never be the same.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke for many when he said the tragedy was “a grim day for our country and a grim day for the world.” He said: “We bleed for them, we grieve for them and we will do everything we can.”

Here are the Australians so far feared to have lost their lives.

Sister Philomene Tiernan, New South Wales

Sister Philomene Tiernan, who was killed in the MH17 plane crash on July 18, 2014

Photo: Sister Philomene Tiernan, who was killed in the MH17 plane crash on July 18, 2014 (Supplied: Kincoppal-Rose Bay School)

A Catholic nun from Sydney, Sister Philomene worked at a private Catholic school in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

In a letter to students, principal Hilary Johnston-Croke said the school was devastated by the loss of Sister Philomene who had been attending a retreat in Joigny in France.

“Phil was a very much-loved staff member and friend,” she said.

“We are devastated by the loss of such a wonderfully kind, wise and compassionate woman who was greatly loved by us all.”

Father Tony Doherty, who had known Sister Philomene for 30 years, has told the ABC’s AM the school community is in mourning.

“I think the first thing that you were struck with was her gentleness and her courtesy,” he said.

“Her character was quite an immediate sensitivity to people and who they were, so there’s been a wave of grieve that’s met this tragic news in the last day.”

Michael and Carol Clancy, New South Wales

NSW retirees Michael and Carol Clancy, who were on board flight MH17 on a European trip, are being remembered as outstanding local teachers.

The couple aged 57 and 64 were from Kanahooka, south of Wollongong.

Mr Clancy, the former deputy principal of Albion Park Public School, had a passion for teaching disabled children.

His longtime friend and former principal, Jim Cooper, says he suffered chronic arthritis and would teach while enduring extraordinary pain.

“The sad part for us as well is we were all planning to get together with a group of friends tomorrow actually for a birthday party so it’s going to be a very sombre affair,” he said.

Mrs Clancy was also teacher and is being remembered for her community work.

Albert and Marie Rizk, Victoria

Albert and Marie Rizk, who were aboard MH17, with their children Vanessa and James.

Photo: Albert (L) and Marie Rizk (3rd from L), who were aboard MH17, with their children Vanessa and James. (Supplied: Raine and Horne)

Albert, a real estate agent, and his wife Marie were on the final stretch of a European holiday.

The Sunbury pair, and parents of two, were heavily involved in the local Sunbury Football Club over the past decade.

The couple have been described by friend Ken Grech as “beautiful” people.

He said the Rizks had called their son James the night before the flight to notify them of a change to their travel plans.

“[They tried to] move it forward because the interconnecting flight was a nine-hour stay so they thought if they could change their flight they would do so, but unfortunately that didn’t occur,” Mr Grech said.

“It hasn’t really sunk it yet that their parents aren’t going to walk in the front door at home,” he said.

Nick Norris, Mo Maslin, Evie Maslin and Otis Maslin, WA

MH17 victims Mo, Otis and Evie Maslin from Perth

Photo: MH17 victims Mo, Otis and Evie Maslin from Perth (Supplied)

The 68-year-old Perth native and three of his grandchildren were on the flight’s manifest and were understood to be travelling to Western Australia from Amsterdam.

Perth businessman Nick Norris

Photo: Perth businessman Nick Norris and three of his grandchildren died in the MH17 crash. (ABC: Supplied)

Mr Norris was a long-time member of the South of Perth Yacht club and had worked in remote Aboriginal communities in education.

Mr Norris’s 24-year-old son Brack said his father had been accompanying the children: Mo (12) , Evie (10) and Otis (8) Maslin home to Australia.

Their parents had remained in Amsterdam for a few more days but Mr Norris, a father of four, was bringing them home to return to school.

Son Brack described the situation as “surreal” and thought it was “ridiculous” when a sister called from Sydney to tell him about the crashed plane.

“I couldn’t believe it … I love my dad extraordinarily and they were amazing kids,” he said.

The parents of the three children are receiving consular assistance in Amsterdam and are believed to be making their way back to Perth.

Roger and Jill Guard, Queensland

Retired Toowoomba pathologist Dr Roger Guard was killed on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Fri July 18, 2014

Photo: Dr Roger Guard and his wife Dr Jill Guard were among those killed on MH17. (Kevin Farmer / APN)

Pathologist Roger Guard and his wife, GP Dr Jill Guard, were returning from a holiday and medical conference.

Toowoomba Hospital Foundation chief executive Peter Rookas said the pair were well respected in the community.

“Roger and Jill went off on a holiday and then attended a medical conference and were actually returning with doctors from that conference on MH17, so we have lost some absolutely brilliant people,” he said.

Howard and Susan Horder, Queensland

MH17 passengers Howard and Susan Horder

Photo: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 passengers Howard and Susan Horder from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. (Supplied)

Howard and Susan Horder were retirees from the state’s Sunshine Coast.

The couple’s sons released a statement saying they are devastated by the loss of their parents.

“Howard and Susan touched the hearts of many and will be missed,” the statement read.

“They lived a happy life and provided much love and care for all those around them.”

Liliane Derden, ACT

A mother of two daughters, Ms Derden from Hall in Canberra’s north, has been identified as being on board flight MH17.

Liliane Derden Canberra victim of MH17 plane crash

Photo: Liliane Derden Canberra victim of MH17 plane crash

Ms Derden was a public servant who worked with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Canberra.

The NHMRC issued a statement honouring Ms Derden.

“The CEO and staff of the NHMRC are deeply saddened by the loss of our valued colleague and friend,” the statement read.

“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”

ACT Acting Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was devastating news a Canberra resident was on the flight.

“It’s devastating news for the family and friends of that ACT resident and indeed our sympathies go to not only to the families here in the ACT who are impacted, but across Australia and indeed around the world.

“It’s a great tragedy and it’s certainly hitting home here locally.”

Helena Sidelik, Queensland

Ms Sidelik, 56, was returning home to the Gold Coast after a holidaying in Europe before she died in what colleagues have described as an “incomprehensible plane disaster”.

Her brother Hans Sidelik says she had been to a wedding in Amsterdam and had spent three weeks holidaying in Greece.

He says his only sister will be greatly missed.

“Very very funny person, loved life, not afraid to speak up and just enjoyed life,” he said.

A statement from colleagues at Vision Personal Training said: “We will truly miss your smiling and infectious personality that we have all become super fond of.”

“May your spirit and soul live on within every one of us that you touched, may you be blessed to soar high above the clouds and smile down on us with double scotch and water and may you rest in peace for eternity,” it added.

Frankie and Liam Davison, Victoria

Francesca “Frankie” and her husband Liam Davison, who were onboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Photo: Francesca “Frankie” and her husband Liam Davison were onboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. (Supplied: Toorak College)

Toorak College, at Mount Eliza, has confirmed that teacher Frankie Davison and her husband Liam were travelling on the flight.

Principal Helen Carmody described Mrs Davidson as a much-loved teacher, colleague and friend.

“Frankie was an inspirational teacher and the most amazing person,” she said.

“She was kind, generous, and truly warm and giving to everybody – she was a very, very popular teacher and was well-loved by all the students, parents and staff.”

Mary and Gerry Menke, Victoria

Business owners Mary and Gerry Menke from the small coastal community of Mallacoota in far eastern Victoria were among the passengers on flight MH17.

The couple were involved in the abalone industry and were producing pearl jewellery.

Jeanette Seignior from Business and Tourism East Gippsland says it is shocking news.

“They work in a unique part of the world – a very beautiful part of the world,” she said.

“You know, abalone’s out in the ocean and Mary owns the local beauty and hairdressing shop in Mallacoota.

“Mallacoota’s not a very big place so it’ll be a great loss for that community.”

Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler, Victoria

Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler

Photo: Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler in happier times. (ABC: Supplied)

Victorian-based finance workers Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler have been remembered as “beloved” staff at IG Australia.

As foreign nationals, Ms Teoh – who was Malaysian – and Mr Mahler – who was Dutch, have not been counted on the official toll of Australians killed in the disaster.

In a statement, IG Australia sent its condolences to the families of the pair.

“IG Australia wishes to send its deepest sympathies … to the families of our colleague and former colleague Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler,” it said.

Ms Teoh graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2008.

On social media, David Teoh Qi-en said he had confirmation from Malaysia Airlines that his sister was on board the flight.

“While I understand public opinions and comments on MH17, I urge my friends to remain wise and calm when talking about it and also [to] keep my family and I in prayer as we are going through these tough times,” he wrote on Facebook.

Emma Bell, Northern Territory

Emma Bell, a teacher at the Maningrida College in Arnhem Land, was among three Territorians killed in the incident.

Ms Bell’s friend Bernard Price says her students will be upset at the news.

“She sort of had an infectious nature that rubbed off on everyone,” he said.

“Especially out here, from an education point of view – I’d sort of describe her as one of the very few who actually get it when it comes to Indigenous education.”

Ms Bell had been teaching in the Maningrida community for nearly 18 months.

Wayne and Theresa Baker, Northern Territory

Married former public servants Wayne and Theresa Baker from Darwin were returning home after holidaying in Europe.

The couple have two adult sons still living in the Top End.

Mrs Baker’s mother Angela Turnbull remembers her daughter as a loving and devoted person.

“She loved her job – she only just retired from her job in March in Darwin and their plan was to do a lot of travelling,” she said.

“She was a very devoted mother .

Ms Turnbull says the couple lived in the Darwin region for most of their adult lives.

“Before they got married, they moved up there and then they came home and got married and moved back up there because [the] work situation was better than down here,” she said.

Arjen and Yvonne Ryder, WA

Married couple Arjen and Yvonne Ryder from Albany in the state’s south were on board flight MH17.

Mr Ryder worked for the Department of Agriculture while his wife was a teacher.

Ruhi Furdowsian, who worked with Mr Ryder for many years, has paid tribute to his friend and colleague.

“The memory I have of him is his lovely smile and approachable attitude that he had,” he said.

“He was a very hard-working person, always on time, always dedicating his life and time to his work.”

Edel Mahady, WA

Edel Mahady who was on board flight MH17 was an administrator at a West Australian Catholic school.


Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 ‘shot down’ on Ukraine-Russia border

  • Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over eastern Ukraine
  • Surface-to-air missile used
  • 27 Australians were among the 298 on board
  • Pro-Russian separatists blamed, but have denied attack
  • The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur

Russian MH17 response ‘unsatisfactory’

http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/external?url=http://content6.video.news.com.au/E5dWEybzreDiDNaDXsF5yLlaPU9ZwEDw/promo229939880&width=650&api_key=kq7wnrk4eun47vz9c5xuj3mc

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has told of the difficulty of investigations into the downed MH17 flight, saying it will be weeks before there are answers for the victims’ families.

He said Australian officials have been deployed to the region.

“Yesterday we saw the smouldering wreckage on our screens, today we have seen some of the faces of the dead,” he said.

“As a nation we need to prepare ourselves for difficult and painful weeks ahead as we strive to find out precisely what has happened and who is responsible.

“My aim is to get justice for Australia, in particular to get justice for the dead and the living. The only way to get justice is if there is a thorough investigation and that means getting access to the site as swiftly as possible … it’s imperative that the site is made available to investigators without molestation and hindrance as fast as possible.”

Abbott said the area is controlled by rebels and “bodies remain strewn over the fields of Eastern Ukraine”.

He emphasised just how dangerous the situation is.

“Overnight, a monitoring mission from the organisation for the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe did gain temporary access but it was driven off by gunfire presumably from the Russian-backed rebels.

“This does highlight though the difficulty and danger of this mission.”

Attempts to contact the Russian government have been unsuccessful so far.

The Ukraine government had said it would give Australia all the support it needed to access the site to retrieve bodies and protect evidence.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will be heading to the US to champion Australia’s campaign at the UN Security Council for an independent comprehensive international investigation with access to the site, debris, black box and any possible witnesses.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have deployed six officers to Kiev and more are on their way, including a five-member emergency response team. Australian Federal Police investigators are also on their way, and more are ready to be deployed as the situation develops.

Contingency arrangements have been put in place to repatriate the bodies, he added.

“Although I must caution this is likely to be weeks, rather than days ahead.”

Ms Bishop noted that for the investigation to proceed, a cease fire around the crash site would be required.

Qantas and Virgin have offered their support for any Australians travelling to the site.

 

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Source: Getty Images

 

Meanwhile, the Government doesn’t want the MH17 disaster to distract from its G20 agenda despite growing pressure for Australia to bar Russia from attending the forum later this year.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has overshadowed the opening of the G20 trade ministers meeting in Sydney on Saturday, where top officials from the world’s 20 richest nations including Russia have gathered to discuss economic growth.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said there was a “steely determination” to find out who was responsible for the disaster but also not to allow it to distract from the task facing G20 ministers.

“There’s no doubt the events are tragic, just tragic,” Mr Hockey said in Sydney ahead of the G20 meeting.

“But we have to move on with the world, bring those people to justice that were responsible for that horrendous act, but also not allow it to distract us from the challenge of creating a world that has greater prosperity and freedom.”

Nearly 300 people — including 28 Australians — were killed when MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. Suspicion has fallen on Russian-backed rebels, prompting calls for Moscow to be punished with trade sanctions.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who met with his Russian counterpart Alexey Ulyukaev ahead of chairing the G20 meeting, didn’t rule out the prospect of trade sanctions if Russia didn’t play ball.

“These are things we need to consider in the goodness of time,” Mr Robb said.

“It is a matter of how Russia responds, co-operates and is proactive in seeking answers.”

Malaysian prime minister’s grief

The step-grandmother of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was on board MH17, the country’s defence minister confirmed.

Hishammuddin Hussein, a cousin of Najib’s, said 83-year-old Siti Amirah was “on the flight”. Siti Amirah was also Hishammuddin’s step-grandmother.

“Pls pray 4 her,” he wrote on his Twitter feed above a photo of her in an Islamic headscarf.

 

 

 

The defence minister’s tweet today confirmed an earlier report in the Star newspaper that said Siti Amirah had embarked alone in Amsterdam on board flight MH17 en route to the Indonesian city of Jogjakarta.

She was scheduled to transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Bizarre account

A top pro-Russia rebel commander in eastern Ukraine has given a bizarre version of events surrounding the Malaysian jetliner crash – suggesting many of the victims may have died days before the plane took off.

The pro-rebel website Russkaya Vesna quoted Igor Girkin as saying he was told by people at the crash site that “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh,” adding that he was told they were drained of blood and reeked of decomposition.

Air travel warning

Pilots and aircraft operators are being warned by the Australian aviation regulator to avoid flying over eastern Ukraine, following similar advice from US and European air safety agencies.

No Australian planes are presently scheduled to fly above eastern Ukraine where MH17 was shot down by a suspected surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people on board.

“Australian air operators and pilots considering operations in eastern European airspace (should) take into account all available safety notices and bulletins regarding flights in the Ukraine region,” the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said.

“Particular attention should be given to notices issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.” US aircraft have been prohibited by the country’s Federal Aviation Administration from flying above parts of eastern Ukraine. “The restricted area includes the entire Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk … regions,” the FAA said.

“This action expands a prohibition of US flight operations issued by the FAA in April, over the Crimean region of Ukraine and adjacent areas of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.”

First photo of pilot

Details of the pilots of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have been revealed.

The plane with 298 people on board, including at least 28 Australians, was downed about 12.15am Sydney time yesterday.

The flight MH17, a Boeing 777-200, was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur but was shot down in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.

The two captains on the plane were Eugene Choo Jin Leong, 45, and Wan Amran Wan Hussin, 50, according to a list.

A photograph of Leong shows him alongside a motorbike. A family member of Leong’s, who did not want to be named, confirmed that he was on board the plane. Meanwhile, Captain Wan Amran Wan Hussin’s wife reportedly told the New Straits Times that he had contacted her minutes before he boarded the flight.

The mother-of-two was shocked to learn what had happened when she randomly checked her phone.

“I had just finished my prayers and decided to checked my handphone as the battery had earlier gone flat.

“I was shocked to see a message from my children’s ustaz (religious teacher) informing me that a Malaysia Airlines plane had crashed.

“I was taken aback and immediately switched on the television to see what was going on.”

 

First photo of MH17 pilot

Pilot: Eugene Choo Jin Leong was flying Malaysia airlines MH17 when it was shot down Source: Supplied

 

Nationalities of victims

Malaysia Airlines has released a new list of the nationalities of passengers who lost their lives on MH17. It lists 27 Australian lives lost — while the number according to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is 28, including a dual-citizen.

• Netherlands: 189

• Malaysia: 44

• Australia: 27

• Indonesia: 12

• UK: 9

• Belgium: 4

• Germany: 4

• Philippines: 3

• Canada: 1

• New Zealand: 1

Four passengers’ nationalities have not yet been verified.

The full list of names have been released in the flight manifesto.

Flight MH17 Passenger Manifest

Day of mourning

Several hundred members of an exclusive Sydney school community have gathered at a church in the city’s east to hold a special mass for a much-loved teacher killed in the MH17 attack.

Sydney nun Sister Philomene Tiernan was on board the Malaysia Airlines flight

Sister Philomene worked for more than 30 years as a teacher and director of boarding at Catholic school Kincoppal-Rose Bay and was remembered fondly by students yesterday.

“The impact of this is just unbelievable in the whole community,” a year 12 student who did not want to be named said. On a cold Saturday morning several nuns, students and their parents and associates of the school arrived at Saint Mary Magdalene church in Rose Bay for a special mass.

Parish Priest Monsignor Tony Doherty said the special prayer service, which began at 9am, would “focus our grief and loss of such an extraordinary woman.”

Sister Philomene Tiernan, aged 77, was a passenger on Malaysian Airline Flight MH17.

Sister Philomene Tiernan, aged 77, was a passenger on Malaysian Airline Flight MH17. Source: Supplied

People leave the church after Sister Philomene Tiernan’s memorial. Picture: Damian Shaw

People leave the church after Sister Philomene Tiernan’s memorial. Picture: Damian Shaw Source: News Corp Australia

The world has been rocked by the tragedy, with people attending a range of memorial sites.

Floral tributes are seen for Sunbury (Victoria) couple Albert Rizk and his wife Marie Riz

Floral tributes are seen for Sunbury (Victoria) couple Albert Rizk and his wife Marie Rizk. Source: Getty Images

Melburnians begin to leave floral tributes to those lost aboard MH17.

Melburnians begin to leave floral tributes to those lost aboard MH17. Source: News Corp Australia

A visitor places flowers at a temporary memorial for the victims in Berlin.

A visitor places flowers at a temporary memorial for the victims in Berlin. Source: Getty Images

A candle burns nex to flowers at the entrance to Schiphol Airport.

A candle burns next to flowers at the entrance to Schiphol Airport. Source: Getty Images

‘Ban Putin from G20’

Australia should consider uninviting Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Brisbane G20 meeting over his government’s “reckless and stupid” actions leading up to the MH17 disaster, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.

Mr Shorten said he was fully supportive of the Australian government’s strong stance over the apparent downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“For an outside nation to have supplied these Ukrainian rebels with this weaponry of war and murder is a very, very reckless and stupid act,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

“It is in the interests of resolving what has happened that all of the great powers, including the Russian Federation, support what was said at the United Nations Security Council last night.” The council called for a thorough investigation of the crash. Mr Shorten said the Australian government should consider barring Mr Putin from the upcoming G20 meeting in Brisbane if the country did not support the investigation.

“If the Russian Federation will not co-operate to help resolve and get to the heart of what has happened here, I don’t think Australians would welcome them coming to the G20,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Source: News Corp Australia

Royal condolences

Prince William has expressed his sympathy for all those affected by the disaster, noting in particular the impact on Australians.

Speaking at Australia House in London, the Duke of Cambridge spoke of his great sadness.

“For all of us who have lost fellow countrymen and women in the tragedy, words cannot do justice to our sense of loss,” he said. “For Australians, for our Malaysian brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth, the crash is a particularly cruel tragedy, coming so soon after the loss of MH370.” He said his family’s thoughts and prayers were with everyone affected.

The Duke was at Australia House to unveil a statue of Matthew Flinders, the first explorer to circumnavigate Australia.

Australian High Commissioner to London Alexander Downer also spoke about the tragedy, asking for a moment’s silence for those killed.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and his brother Prince Harry stand on the

Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his brother Prince Harry. Source: AFP

Obama speaks out

US President Barack Obama has sent his condolences to the families of victims. He has also paid tribute to AIDS researchers and activists who were bound for an international conference in Melbourne.

The president phoned Prime Minister Tony Abbott to discuss the tragedy.

“The president expressed condolences on behalf of the American people to the Australian families who lost loved ones on board the flight,” a statement from the White House said today.

US President Barack Obama addresses the plane crash of flight MH17.

US President Barack Obama addresses the plane crash of flight MH17. Source: AFP

Death toll

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned the Australian death toll may still rise as investigators work to uncover the identities of 41 victims of the MH17 disaster who are not yet accounted for.

Speaking on Sky News last night, Ms Bishop also confirmed a 28th Australian death is that of a dual citizen.

The Foreign Minister has issued a stark warning to Russia as it becomes increasingly clear that pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine are responsible for bringing down the jet.

Using language that is more direct than is custom in international relations, Ms Bishop made it clear Australia would use its position on the United Nations Security Council to push for an international investigation and warned Russia not to stand in the way.

“Russia has a crucial role to play in all of this. If, as Russia claims, Ukraine is responsible for this, I expect Russia to support a thorough investigation”, she said.

Ms Bishop’s words were backed by the UN Security Council, which passed a unanimous motion calling for a full and thorough investigation.

“The members of the Security Council called for a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability,” the council said in a unanimous declaration.

The UN statement expressed the council’s “deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims, and to the people and governments of all those killed in the crash.”

Council members stood in a moment of silent tribute to the 298 victims at the start of an emergency council meeting. The council called for an investigation “in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability.”

It stressed the need for “immediate access by investigators to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident.”

Ms Bishop also said she had been unable to get in touch with her Russian counterpart, who is on holidays, and was told by the Russians she could not speak to a more junior representative.

The comments came after Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier condemned the initial response of the Russian Ambassador to the MH17 disaster.

Julie Bishop following her meeting with the Russian Ambassador Vladimir Morozov.

Julie Bishop following her meeting with the Russian Ambassador Vladimir Morozov. Source: AFP

Mr Abbott said it was “highly probable” MH17 was “shot down” by what appeared to be a Russian-backed rebel missile.

Yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister revealed the first response from the Russian Ambassador was to blame Ukraine forces for the tragedy — a response he called “deeply, deeply unsatisfactory”.

The ambassador had been summoned to speak in Sydney with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who was seeking assurances Russia would co-operate with investigators and Australia would get access to the crash site.

Mr Abbott repeated his statement made in Parliament that the disaster was a crime and not an accident.

Rescue crews walk through the crash site.

Rescue crews walk through the crash site. Source: AP

Australia was working for a binding UN Security Council resolution to secure an independent international investigation, he said.

“It’s very important that we don’t allow Russia to prevent an absolutely comprehensive investigation.”

Mr Abbott said Australia was eager to take a leading role in the investigation, given the high number of Australians killed.

“These people were innocent people going about their lives … And they have been killed by Russian-backed rebels … Possibly with Russian supplied missiles.”

He had strong words for those that supplied the rebels with the missile.

“Anyone who gave such a weapon to people who were absolutely incapable of using it … Should feel a sense of shame.”

He said Russia’s involvement would be a test for that country. “There can be no excuses, no buck passing.”

Mr Abbott said there would be a national day of mourning and ordered flags at government buildings to be flown at half-mast tomorrow.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said anyone with concerns for friends or family can call the hotline on 1300 555 135.

People search for bodies near the wreckage of Flight MH17

People search for bodies near the wreckage of Flight MH17 Source: AFP

THE VICTIMS

Malaysia Airlines says there were 298 people on board, not 295 as originally stated. At least 28 of the victims are Australian.

Among the dead are Victorian couple Albert and Marie Rizk, who are believed to have missed an earlier flight and ended up on MH17.

Mr Rizk, a local real estate agent, and his wife, who have two children, were due to return home from Europe today after spending a month abroad on holidays.

Other victims are 27-year-old Melbourne student Elaine Teoh, Sister Philomene Tiernan — a teacher at eastern Sydney’s Catholic girls’ school — and Perth management consultant Nick Norris, who was travelling with his grandchildren.

Denis Napthine, the Premier of Victoria, said it was likely there were permanent residents of Australia travelling on other passports who were also killed in the crash.

Albert Rizk (on left) and wife Marie (third from left) the couple believed to be on fligh

Albert Rizk (on left) and wife Marie (third from left) the couple believed to be on flight MH-17. Source: Supplied

The airline confirmed that those on board included 28 Australians, as well as 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysians, 12 Indonesian (including one infant), nine from the UK, four German, four Beligum, three Filipinos, one Canadian. The nationalities of 41 others on the plane were still unknown.

RELATED: The lives lost on MH17

RELATED: Passenger’s tragic last words

RELATED: The families that should have been on MH17

Malaysia Airlines plane shot down

Debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shown smouldering in a field July 17, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine near the Russian border. Source: Getty Images

REACTION

Government minister Ian MacFarlane has played down the possibility that Vladimir Putin could be excluded from the G20 summit in Brisbane in November.

“It’s not a security forum and therefore while we need to be mindful that an investigation does have to take place and we do have to obviously see exactly what’s happened here, in terms of the G20, it is an economic forum not a security forum.”

In the US, Hillary Clinton, the former US secretary of state, and possible presidential candidate, said in a television interview that indications pointed to Russian-backed side and action was needed to “put [Vladimir] Putin on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by”.

“The questions I’d be asking is, number one, who could have shot it down? Who had the equipment? It’s obviously an anti-aircraft missile. Who could have had the expertise to do that? Because commercial airlines are big targets, but by the time they got over that part of Ukraine they should have been high, so it takes some planning [to target such a plane].

“And the Ukrainian government has been quick to blame it on terrorists, which is their name for the Russian insurgents. And there does seem to be some growing awareness that it probably had to be Russian insurgents.”

A firefighter stands among the wreckage. DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

A firefighter stands among the wreckage. DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

AIDS CONFERENCE

One of those on board was HIV researcher Joep Lange, who was on his way to Melbourne from the Netherlands to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference, AIDS2014.

As many as 100 of the passengers were thought to be headed to Melbourne for the conference. Organisers have confirmed it will go ahead as planned

“The International AIDS Society (IAS) today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today,” a statement from the International AIDS Society said.

“At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.”

The event is to be held in Melbourne from July 20-25.

People stand next to the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FA

People stand next to the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

Australian passport found at Malaysia Airlines wreckage site. Photo: Live Leak

Australian passport found at Malaysia Airlines wreckage site. Photo: Live Leak Source: Supplied

Earlier, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko was quoted as saying the plane had been shot down by a ground-to-air missile.

According to CNN senior US officials have concluded the plane was shot down but were divided over the origin.

“One radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane went down Thursday,” CNN is reporting.

A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit.

RELATED: Russian rebels ‘likely responsible’

RELATED: Warnings ignored on Ukraine’s airspace

INTERCEPTED PHONE CALLS

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has reportedly released recordings of intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and members of terrorist groups that took place about 20 minutes after the crash.

One call was apparently made by Igor Bezler, who the SBU says is a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Igor Bezler: “We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).”

Vasili Geranin, a colonel in the main intelligence department Russian Federation armed forces then asks: “Pilots. Where are the pilots?”

Bezler replies: “Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.”

“We have just shot down a plane” (translated)

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A second call was between militants nicknamed “Major” and “Greek” about 40 minutes later.

“It’s 100 per cent a passenger (civilian) aircraft,” Major is recorded as admitting that he had seen no weapons on site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”

Australian Federal MP Christopher Pyne said there was no doubt that the plane was shot out of the sky. But Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that at this stage it had been unable to verify the cause of the tragedy.

Earlier Mr Gerashchenko told the Wall Street Journal pro-Russia rebels had set up a ground-to-missile battery near the Russian border by the town of Snizhne.

“They clearly thought that it was a military transport plane that they were shooting at,” he said. “They were the ones who did this.”

Wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lump

Wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

WHAT HAPPENED?

The plane appeared to have broken up before hitting the ground, and the burning wreckage — which included body parts and the belongings of passengers — was scattered over a wide area.

It came down near the town of Shaktarsk, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, and shocking photos of bodies among the wreckage have been posted on Twitter.

http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/external?url=http://content6.video.news.com.au/xzcGQxbzqWKQW6VqrZX4PzLKRv_cnPXa/promo229894102&width=650&api_key=kq7wnrk4eun47vz9c5xuj3mc

“Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border,” the carrier said in a statement on Facebook.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the downing an act of terrorism and called for an international investigation into the crash.

Some are blaming Russia for allegedly supporting the separatists but a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said allegations that Russia had been involved in the incident was “stupidity”.

Ukrainian woman lies down in front of Dutch embassy holding a poster reading “Putin is a

Ukrainian woman lies down in front of Dutch embassy holding a poster reading “Putin is a killer”. AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov Source: AP

Mr Putin has blamed Ukraine for the crash, “Undoubtedly, the government in whose air space this happened bears responsibility for this terrible tragedy,” a Kremlin statement says.

Putin reportedly opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash.

“This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy,” he said, according to the statement.

The village of Grabovo is currently under the control of the separatists and the area has seen severe fighting between the two sides in recent days.

A man stands next to the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines plane. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FA

A man stands next to the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines plane. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

SEPARATIST MOVEMENT

Ukraine is a country in crisis. The region where MH17 went down has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists in recent days. Ukraine has been in crisis ever since pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was driven from office in February by a protest movement among citizens wanting closer ties with the European Union. Russia later annexed the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine, and pro-Russians separatists in the country’s eastern regions began occupying government buildings and pressing for independence. Moscow denies Western charges it is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest.

Wreckage near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGE

Wreckage near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

Luggage on the site of the crash of the crash. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET

Luggage on the site of the crash of the crash. Picture: AFP /DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

Flames among the wreckage. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET

Flames among the wreckage. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

SEPARATISTS BLAMED

In a statement, Mr Poroshenko said the plane “disappeared from radar screens”.

“In recent days, this is the third tragic accident after the Russian territory were downed aircraft AN-26 and SU-25 Armed Forces of Ukraine. We do not exclude that this aircraft was also shot down, and stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not commit any action to defeat the purposes of the air,” Mr Poroshenko added.

A defence expert told the BBC that shooting down a plane at that height would have required a long-range surface-to-air missile — possibly guided by radar.

Oleg Tsarev, one of the leaders of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, told Time that the rebels did not shoot down the plane.

“We don’t have weapons that can take down a plane from that altitude,” he said, minutes after news of the crash broke.

But there are reports that rebels did have an anti-aircraft military station and the Russian state media even congratulated the rebels on their new Russian-made Buk missile launchers seized from a Ukrainian air force base.

“The Donetsk resistance fighters have captured an anti-aircraft military station,” the Kremlin’s main television network Vesti announced three weeks ago.

Since then there have been regular downings of Ukrainian aircraft including an AN-26 military transport plane, which was shot down on Monday. Its four crew members were taken hostage after they ejected from the aircraft, rebels later confirmed.

According to The Telegraph, the DPR also posted a Twitter picture of a missile system that it captured when it overran a Ukrainian army garrison on June 29.

A spokesman told Voice of Russia radio at the time: “The forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic assumed control of A-1402 (regiment’s) military base” and boasted of capturing the Buk launcher.

Ukrainian government forces manoeuvre a Buk anti-aircraft missile launcher. AP Photo/Dmit

Ukrainian government forces manoeuvre a Buk anti-aircraft missile launcher. Picture: AP / Dmitry Lovetsky Source: AP

 

A similar weapon was reportedly seen by an Associated Press journalist on Thursday in Snizhne.

As news spread of the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight, the separatists deleted the Twitter photo of the captured missile system.

A raft of global airlines, including Air France, Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, swiftly responded to the disaster by saying they had been avoiding airspace over eastern Ukraine due to safety concerns.

Qantas has confirmed that it has not flown the route across the Ukraine in recent months because it recognised the risks presented by the separatist conflict, during which the aircraft were being shot down.

They were further advised on Thursday to avoid Ukraine’s airspace

In France, a statement by junior transport minister Frederic Cuvillier said he had advised “French airlines to avoid Ukraine’s air space as long as the reasons behind this catastrophe are not known.”

FLIGHT PATH

Flight MH17 departed Amsterdam at 12:15pm (Amsterdam local time, 8:15pm AEDT) on Thursday and was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6:10am (Malaysia local time, 8:10am AEDT) the next day.

A Malaysian official tonight told a news conference the flight path was approved by the International Civilian Aviation Organisation and was in unrestricted airspace.

The plane disappeared from radar when flying at 10,000 metres cruising altitude, Interfa-Ukraine reports.

The Daily Beast reported the plane’s “black box” was on its way to Moscow for “investigation”.

But the head of Ukrainian Emergency Situations has since reportedly claimed that search efforts at the scene are being hampered by “armed terrorists”.

In response to the disaster Thai Airways said its flights to Europe have been rerouted to avoid Ukrainian airspace.

The company didn’t say when the route changes were made effective or how many flights were affected.

America’s FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has also banned US flights from entering the airspace of eastern Ukraine. Via Mashable.

“The FAA has made official what most airlines were already doing: American flights are barred from entering the airspace of eastern Ukraine “until further notice,” the agency says. Flights were already officially barred from Crimea and surrounding areas.”

The crash comes just four months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which remains missing

Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak said he was “shocked” by the reports. “We are launching an immediate investigation,” he said.

The Kremlin said US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had discussed the crash over the phone.

He said US would offer any assistance it could to determine what happened.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.”

A statement from the White House said there needed to be a “full, credible and unimpeded” investigation and urged all concerned — Russia, pro-Russians separatists and the Ukraine — to agree to an immediate ceasefire so investigators could gain access to the crash site.

Malaysia Airlines shot down on Ukraine-Russia border.

Malaysia Airlines shot down on Ukraine-Russia border. In this Press Association graphic the earlier figure of 295 was given before the airline revised the figure to 298. Source: Supplied

Malaysian airlines flight MH17: Tony Abbott says ‘Russian-backed rebels’ likely to blame on ‘grim day’ for Australia

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the deaths of 300 people on board a downed Malaysia Airlines passenger jet is a grim day for the nation and a grim day for the world.

At least 27 Australians are among the dead after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

The plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, where many of the passengers were due to catch connecting flights to Australia.

Today Mr Abbott said the plane seemed to have been shot down “by Russian-backed rebels”.

He indicated he believed that Russia or Russian arms played a part in the disaster.

“This look less like an accident than a crime,” he told Parliament.

“The bullying of small countries by big ones, the trampling of justice and decency in the pursuit of national aggrandisement, and reckless indifference to human life should have no place in our world.”

“Our hearts go out to the families of all the dead.”

Mr Abbott said Russian ambassador to Australia Vladimir Morozov was being summoned by Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop to seek assurances that the Russian government would fully cooperate with the investigation.

Australian officials are seeking to get access to the crash site and a DFAT team is being sent to Ukraine’s capital Kiev.

“Australia will be working at the United Nations Security Council for a binding resolution calling for a full and impartial investigation with full access to the site, with full access to the debris, with full access to the black box and with full access to all individuals who might be in a position to shed light on this terrible event,” he added.

‘Tyrannical, wild act’, says Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the shooting down of MH17 was shocking and bewildering.

“Travelling at six miles’ height, this is unimaginable. This is a violation of the rules of civilisation. This is a tyrannical, wild act,” he said.

Mr Shorten said the Government had Labor’s full support.

“The missile that brought down MH17 and the missiles that have claimed numerous other Ukrainian aircraft could not possibly be made by the people who’ve possibly fired them,” he said.

“These separatist terrorists are obtaining these instruments of murder from elsewhere.”

Mr Shorten said it was time for national unity.

“It is a time for temperate responses, for cool heads and measured action,” he said.

“That is indeed the strongest possible response that Australians expect from us.

“This horrific situation can seem far removed from our daily lives but there is no question that the conflict in this disputed part of the Ukraine has now reached Australia.”

Many passengers heading to Melbourne HIV/AIDS conference

It is believed that a number of people on board the crashed flight were on their way to a Melbourne HIV/AIDS conference.

The 20th International AIDS conference is due to start in Melbourne on Sunday and run until July 25.

The International AIDS Society has confirmed its former Dutch president Joep Lange was killed in the crash.

Speaker Bronwyn Bishop is due to address the HIV/AIDS conference on Monday.

“I know there will be many empty spots,” she said.

“I think that what we’re doing is mourning with all the world and all that have been lost. We want to see justice but in a measured way.”

The shooting down of MH17 comes while the search goes on for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which vanished mysteriously on March 8.

18/07/14 Updated 35 minutes ago

Up to 27 Australians were among 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet which was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of all on board.

Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was apparently blown out of the sky by a missile near Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Dutch authorities have confirmed 27 Australians were on board the plane. DFAT says it is working to confirm that figure.

US vice president Joe Biden says the aircraft was “blown out of the sky” and it was “not an accident”.

Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists it is currently fighting in the east of the country have both denied shooting the plane down.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said it would be an “unspeakable crime” if the aircraft was proven to have been shot down.

“If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, there is no doubt this would be – under those circumstances – an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice,” he said.

However, he emphasised that there are no hard facts at the moment.

The Prime Minister said the Government was making arrangements to deploy consular staff to Kiev to provide whatever assistance they could.

Passengers on board MH17

  • Netherlands: 154
  • Australia: 27
  • Malaysia: 23
  • Indonesia: 11
  • UK: 6
  • Germany: 4
  • Belgium: 4
  • Philippines: 3
  • Canada: 1

Source: Dutch officials

Earlier Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said the downing of the airliner was an act of terrorism.

Media reports suggest the aircraft was downed by a Buk ground-to-air missile.

Russia’s Interfax news agency says pro-Russian separatists have claimed to have found the plane’s black box.

Malaysia Airlines said flight tracking data indicated the plane was at its cruising altitude of 33,000 feet (10,000 metres) when it disappeared.

The BBC is quoting one farm worker in the area as saying, “I was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane, then a bang and shots”.

Another said: “There was thick black smoke from a nearby factory. From my balcony I saw a plane begin to descend from a great height and then heard two explosions.”

The disaster comes just four months after Malaysia Airlines lost contact with flight MH370, another Boeing 777 carrying more than 200 people. The fate of that aircraft remains a mystery.

On Twitter, Mr Poroshenko described the incident as an attack by terrorists.

“We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky,” Mr Poroshenko said in a statement posted on the president’s website.

Malaysian president Najib Razak said he was “shocked”.

“I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed,” he said on his Twitter account. “We are launching an immediate investigation.”

The White House says US president Barack Obama has ordered senior US officials to remain in close touch with Ukrainian officials about the downed plane.

Mr Obama has spoken to Russian president Vladimir Putin about the crash.

“The Russian leader informed the US president about an air-traffic controllers’ report that came just before their phone conversation that a Malaysian plane crashed in Ukraine,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Other airlines are now avoiding east Ukrainian air space, including Germany’s biggest airline Lufthansa.

“Lufthansa has decided to avoid the east Ukrainian air space by a wide margin with immediate effect,” a company spokesperson said.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17: Official statements

Updated 1 hour 20 minutes ago

Malaysia Airlines MH17: Phone tap reveals pro-Russian separatists claiming responsibility for passenger plane downed over Ukraine

Updated 30 minutes ago

Igor Bezler

Photo: “We have just shot down a plane”: Pro-Russian separatist Igor Bezler.

Ukrainian wire taps appear to have captured pro-Russian separatists claiming responsibility for shooting down a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 289 people on board, including at least 27 Australians.

Ukraine’s Kyiv Post newspaper has posted what it says is a conversation between a separatist commander and Russian intelligence officer Vasili Geranin.

In the transcript, released by Ukraine’s security service, the separatist, identified as Igor Bezler, says: “We have just shot down a plane. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).”

The paper also has a transcript of what it says is a conversation between two separatists identified as “Major” and “Greek”.

“The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first 200. We have found the first 200 – a civilian,” Major says, referring to the codeword for a dead person.

“In short, it was 100 per cent a passenger aircraft.

“These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.””

The paper also posted part of a third conversation between Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin and an unidentified militant.

“Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snizhne-Torez. It’s a civilian one – fell down near Grabove. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this,” the militant says.

“They say on TV it’s AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s written Malaysia Airlines on the plane. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?”

Kozitsin replies: “That means they were carrying spies. They shouldn’t be f***ing flying. There is a war going on.”

Military analysts have speculated that militants mistook the passenger jet for a military aircraft.

Earlier Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said the downing of the airliner was an act of terrorism.

“MH-17 is not an incident or catastrophe, it is a terrorist attack,” he tweeted.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said it would be an “unspeakable crime” if the aircraft was proven to have been shot down.

“If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, there is no doubt this would be – under those circumstances – an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice,” he said.

US vice-president Joe Biden earlier said the aircraft was “blown out of the sky” and it was “not an accident”.

Reuben Johnson from defence publication Jane’s Military says all the missile systems in the area of Ukraine where the plane was downed had been seized by separatists.

“We have some telephone recordings that were intercepted by the Ukrainian security service … that has the separatists talking to each other, saying ‘We shot down a plane’,” he said.

“So there’s not too much that’s left to the imagination.”

The conversation between Major and Greek, as posted by the Kyiv Post:

Major: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.

Greek: Yes, Major.

Major: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first 200. We have found the first 200 – a civilian.

Greek: Well, what do you have there?

Major: In short, it was 100 per cent a passenger aircraft.

Greek: Are many people there?

Major: Holy sh**t! The debris fell right into the yards [of homes].

Greek: What kind of aircraft?

Major: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.

Greek: Is there anything left of the weapon?

Major: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.

Greek: Are there documents?

Major: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.


 

This is what Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia Airlines and others are saying about the MH17 crash. There are claims the passenger jet, with nearly 300 people on board, may have been shot down by a missile. All the passengers and crew are dead.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day.

The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew onboard.

Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko

This is not an incident or catastrophe, it is a terrorist attack.

We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak

I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

On reports MH17 was shot down:

Look, we just have all sorts of reports and claims flying around. That’s all we have at the moment – reports and claims. I’m very conscious of the fact that the Ukrainian president has made that statement (on the plane being shot down).

I believe they’ve been other statements from people in authority in Ukraine, but we just can’t say.

If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, there is no doubt this would be – under those circumstances – an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice.

On what the Government can do for families:

We can assure families that at the highest levels of government we feel for them. We grieve with them, we pray for them. That’s the first thing we do, and the second thing we do is to try to provide whatever practical assistance we can in terms of counsel, in terms of repatriation of remains and so on.

This is just a very, very sad time made worse by reports that it might be a crime rather than an accident.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs

The loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine is a tragedy.

Initial reports indicate there were 295 people on board and there are no survivors of the crash. We have grave concerns that a number of Australians may have been on board the flight. Officials are urgently working to seek confirmation with relevant authorities.

If you have any concerns for the welfare of Australian family or friends, you should attempt to directly contact them.

If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare, you should call DFAT’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or within Australia on 1300 555 135.

Spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin

The president of Russia asked the prime minister of Malaysia to convey his deepest sympathy and support to the victims’ families.

US president Barack Obama

The world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia/Ukraine border, and it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.

I have directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.

And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.

Boeing

Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board the Malaysia Airlines airplane lost over Ukrainian airspace, as well as their families and loved ones.

Boeing stands ready to provide whatever assistance is requested by authorities.

 

4 thoughts on “28 Aussies among 298 killed as Malaysia Airlines ‘blown out of sky’ by missile over Ukraine”

  1. What is happening to this world we live in? My thoughts are with the family and friends of not just the 27 Australians but all the innocent people killed in this despicable act who were just going about there business.I don’t think I will ever fly overseas again.

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  2. Gee up to 108 delegates may of been on board that plane on their way to Australia for a world conference on HIV…Tragic

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  3. Spend your life saving folks (and yourself even) and researching the terrible disease that is HIV/aids to be killed on a flight to share knowledge with other experts from around the world. A sad moment in history.

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