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

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

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


January 1 2017 – 9:06PM

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Her husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack.

 

 

 

Her husband was not in serious condition despite his wounds.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


abc.net.au

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

 Sun 1 Jan 2017, 9:15pm

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

Key points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DFAT determining if any Australians involved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC/wires

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

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

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Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul

A former NRL player and a Bondi businessman have been linked to a drug ring after New South Wales Police recorded the biggest cocaine haul in Australia’s history.
The joint strike force between Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police drug squad arrested 15 men and seized about $360 million worth of cocaine.

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

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

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

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

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

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


abc.net.au

Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul

By Siobhan Fogarty

Updated 18 minutes ago

Thu 29 Dec 2016, 12:17pm

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

Key points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip-off from community led to bust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


smh.com.au

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

By Rachel Olding, Latika Bourke, Rachel Browne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie Obeid: The rise, reign and fall of NSW’s most notorious political powerbroker

Eddie Obeid was renowned as a fearsome Labor kingmaker
His business and political empires became entwined
An ICAC finding of corruption lead to his prosecution

Obeid has been sentenced to five years’ jail, with a minimum of three years, for misconduct in a public office in relation to his family’s secret business dealings at Circular Quay.


Update 1.28pm 15/12/16

‘Bail is refused’

“I direct Mr Obeid be taken down [into the cells],” Justice Beech-Jones says.

After loosening his tie and handing his watch to his lawyers, Obeid was led from the dock in court five in the historic Darlinghurst Supreme Court by corrective services officers.

Justice Beech-Jones says Obeid’s lawyers have not established “exceptional circumstances” exist to warrant a grant of bail pending his appeal against conviction and sentence.

“I do not accept Mr Obeid’s appeal rises any higher than being reasonably arguable,” he says of the merits of the foreshadowed appeal.


Eddie Obeid to be stripped of parliamentary pension as Baird government reacts to his sentencing

  • Sean Nicholls

Former Labor minister Eddie Obeid is set to be stripped of his annual $120,000 parliamentary pension following his sentencing for wilful misconduct in public office.

On Thursday, Obeid was sentenced to a maximum 5 years in jail with a non parole period of three years.

Shortly afterwards, Premier Mike Baird announced MPs convicted of a serious offence during their time in office will lose their parliamentary pension, even if they quit before charges are laid.

The announcement means Obeid is set to be stripped of his lifetime annual pension worth more than $120,000 a year.

Presently MPs convicted of a serious offence – punishable by at least five years imprisonment – can keep their pensions if they are not charged while in office.

“The crimes of Eddie Obeid and his cronies are the most serious instance of official corruption we have seen in our lifetimes,” Mr Baird said.

“Regardless of political affiliation, any MP who commits a serious offence while in office should face the consequences, and should not be shielded simply because they resign before being charged.

“We will work cooperatively with the Opposition and cross-bench MPs over the summer recess to bring forward amendments that repair this glaring anomaly, and we will make sure they capture Obeid and any others who find themselves in his situation.”

The change will require an amendment to legislation to be put to parliament early next year.

The Baird government has also indicated it will claw back the estimated $280,000 legal assistance he was given for this particular ICAC inquiry.

MORE TO COME

Click here to read full sentencing judgement


Eddie Obeid sentenced for Circular Quay corruption

Michaela Whitbourn

‘Sanctity of jury verdict’

Justice Beech-Jones says the “public interest upholding the sanctity of the jury’s verdict” is a factor weighing against granting bail.

The corrupt former Labor kingpin’s lawyers have also suggested he should be granted bail because he is facing a committal hearing on other corruption charges next year.

The Supreme Court judge says it can be accepted it will be harder for Obeid to prepare for that case while in jail.

The judge decides

Justice Robert Beech-Jones is now delivering his decision on whether Obeid should be granted bail. It’s a busy morning for the Supreme Court judge.

Justice Robert Beech-Jones delivers his decision in the Eddie Obeid sentencing.
Justice Robert Beech-Jones delivers his decision in the Eddie Obeid sentencing.  

The final, final point

It feels like Obeid’s barrister is holding out the promise of a “final” point but there is always another one to be made.

Guy Reynolds, SC, says Obeid will appeal not only his conviction but his sentence.

And yes, he still wants “a release order or bail” pending that appeal. If he doesn’t get it from Justice Beech-Jones he is likely to ask the Court of Criminal Appeal to decide on that point too.

‘Unreasonable verdict’

Obeid’s barrister Guy Reynolds, SC, says he is moving onto his “final” point.

Not only does Reynolds say the jury was misdirected by Justice Beech-Jones, he says the jury’s verdict was “unreasonable and cannot be supported by the evidence”.

It’s good to cover all one’s bases.

Reynolds says he is “grateful” to the court for allowing him to set out the grounds of appeal, as “aggravating” as it may be.

He reiterates he is seeking bail for his 73-year-old client pending an appeal.

Eddie Obeid outside court this morning.
Eddie Obeid outside court this morning. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Still here

Oh yes, we’re still here in court. Obeid’s barrister Guy Reynolds, SC, is fleshing out his submission there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Obeid has no intention of going to jail and his legal team wants Justice Beech-Jones to grant bail today.

Get comfortable. This could be a while.

Back to top

Obeid to be stripped of pension

The Herald‘s state political editor Sean Nicholls has the exclusive: the Baird government will strip Obeid of his annual $120,000 parliamentary pension following his jail sentence for misconduct in public office.

Read the full story here.

Someone's having a good day, and it ain't Eddie.
Someone’s having a good day, and it ain’t Eddie. Photo: James Alcock

No love lost

Former Labor premier Kristina Keneally is out of the blocks early to offer her views on Obeid’s jail sentence. She’s not mincing her words.

It ain’t over

Usually when a person is sent to prison, they are taken away from the courtroom almost immediately by corrective services.

Not so in the Obeid case. His lawyer, Guy Reynolds, SC, is in full flight about the alleged miscarriage of justice suffered by his client. He wants bail.

An impassive Obeid remains in the dock as Reynolds and Justice Beech-Jones engage in a robust discussion about the latter’s summing up to the jury.

What next

An appeal is already in the offing but for the time being Obeid is going to jail for a maximum of five years, with no possibility of release for three years.

What next? Glad you asked. Obeid and his entrepreneurial middle son, Moses, have been charged over a separate deal exposed at ICAC, relating to the very fortuitous creation of a coal mining tenement over their rural property in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee.

The deal netted the Obeid family $30 million, ICAC heard.The men will face a three-week committal hearing starting on May 29 to test the strength of the prosecution’s case and determine if they should stand trial.

Moses Obeid outside the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Moses Obeid outside the Supreme Court earlier this year. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Appeal, anyone?

Obeid’s barrister, Guy Reynolds, SC, has leapt to his feet and, as foreshadowed, is already flagging an appeal.

He says there has been a “miscarriage of justice” and they will need to trot off to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

“The prospects of Mr Obeid succeeding … on appeal are extremely high,” Reynolds says.

Back to top

Jail only appropriate penalty

Obeid will go to jail, Justice Beech-Jones says.

“Given the nature of the offending and notwithstanding Mr Obeid’s personal circumstances, I am satisfied that, having considered all possible alternatives, no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate,” he says.

“Mr Obeid, will you please stand up.”

Five years

Justice Beech-Jones has sentenced Obeid to a maximum of 5 years in jail, with a three-year non parole period.

‘Not an opinion poll’

This is it. “Conclusion,” Justice Beech-Jones says clearly.

He says sentencing is not conducted via “opinion polls”.

“If Mr Obeid had not willfully abused his position as a parliamentarian, then his life and career would be a testament to the values of hard work, family and public service. Instead, his time in public life has produced a very different legacy.”

Life expectancy

And we are inching closer. Justice Beech-Jones says a jail sentence should not be reduced because it would consume “most of an offender’s remaining life expectancy”.

Medical conditions

The court hears Obeid suffers from a litany of medical conditions. He had a stroke earlier this year, has had type two diabetes “for years”, has high blood pressure and colonic polyps.

He also tripped on a coffee table earlier this year and was taken to hospital.

However, the conditions are “stable and controlled”, according to medical evidence.

But expert evidence tendered by Obeid’s legal team says it is “unlikely that … Obeid would receive appropriate medical treatment in custody if he was incarcerated”.

Justice Beech-Jones says he accepts Obeid would receive “a superior level of care in the community” but he is satisfied “he would receive an adequate level of care” in jail.

Eddie Obeid outside court this morning.
Eddie Obeid outside court this morning. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Back to top

All in the family

Justice Beech-Jones says the evidence suggests the Obeid family is “exceptionally close” and would be hit hard by the jailing of the patriarch.

But he notes it was Obeid’s decision to prioritise the interest of his family above his duty to the public that led to his offending.

A parliamentarian cannot use their position to “afford generosity” to their family or associates, he says.

‘Mitigating factor’

Obeid enlisted 55 character witnesses in his fight to avoid jail. Justice Beech-Jones says they are evidence of “prior good character”, which is a “mitigating factor” in sentencing.

However, he says in cases of corruption the “need for deterrence is particularly strong” and the references will be “afforded less weight”.

‘Deliberate breach of trust’

Justice Beech-Jones is getting closer to delivering those final words: to jail or not to jail.

He says the essence of the offence of misconduct in public office is a “deliberate breach of trust”.

The seniority of the public official is relevant, along with the nature of the breach.

The Supreme Court judge is surveying relevant cases, and says they demonstrate the “onerous duty” imposed upon parliamentarians and ministers.

Eddie Obeid outside court this morning.
Eddie Obeid outside court this morning. Photo: Daniel Munoz

The penalty

Now we’re getting down to it. Justice Beech-Jones is setting out the principles for sentencing Eddie Obeid.

In NSW the offence of misconduct in public office is not codified in an act of Parliament – it is simply part of the common law (law made by judges).

That means the maximum penalty has not been set out in legislation and is technically “at large”, meaning life.

But in other states, where the offence has been codified, the maximum penalty is about seven years. This is relevant but the court is not “limited” by that, Justice Beech-Jones says.

He says there is “no difference in substance” between a politician receiving a bribe to advance someone else’s interest and using their position to line their own pockets.

‘Makes no difference’

It makes no difference to Obeid’s criminality whether he was acting to advance his own financial interests or those of his family, Justice Beech-Jones said


Eddie Obeid: The rise, reign and recession of NSW’s most notorious political powerbroker

Analysis

12.20pm 15/12/2016

The sentencing of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid is a day of reckoning for a man who once wielded his influence to build and destroy the careers of premiers and MPs in New South Wales.

Key points:

  • Eddie Obeid was renowned as a fearsome Labor kingmaker
  • His business and political empires became entwined
  • An ICAC finding of corruption lead to his prosecution

Obeid has been sentenced to five years’ jail, with a minimum of three years, for misconduct in a public office in relation to his family’s secret business dealings at Circular Quay.

Edward Moses Obeid was born in a village in northern Lebanon in 1943, and after moving to Australia as a child, worked as a cab driver and at local Arabic-language newspaper El Telegraph.

Within a few years he was running that newspaper, and was recruited by Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson to join the party in 1972.

ABC investigative journalist Marion Wilkinson’s book The Fixer describes how Obeid was soon providing invaluable advice to Richardson on how to politically organise ethnic communities.

It was Mr Richardson who gave Obeid the necessary backing to see him elected to the NSW Upper House in 1991, and he rose through the ranks to become the minister for fisheries and mineral resources from 1999 to 2003.

But it was his creation and control of the so-called Terrigals sub-faction of the Labor Right that would go on to dominate NSW Labor for the better part of two decades.

One king to rule them all

The sub-faction was formed, with Obeid its undisputed king, at a now infamous meeting at his beach house in Terrigal in 1992.

It went on to use its numbers relentlessly to fundraise, control pre-selections, guide policy and elevate chosen MPs to the frontbench.

At the height of its powers, the Terrigals sub-faction was instrumental in installing and removing a series of premiers — namely Morris Iemma, Nathan Rees and Kristina Keneally.

Mr Iemma has said his premiership became “untenable” because he could not convince the Terrigals to approve his preferred ministerial reshuffle.

Mr Rees was rolled after standing up to the sub-faction by sacking Ian Macdonald and Joe Tripodi from the ministry.

Just before he was knifed, Mr Rees famously said: “should I not be Premier by the end of the day, let there be no doubt in the community’s mind, no doubt, that any challenger will be a puppet of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi.”

How the empire unravelled

But Obeid’s influence was broader than the parliamentary caucus.

His diary entries from 2007 to 2009, tendered to Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearings, show a revolving door of developers, union bosses and business figures queuing up to seek appointments with him.

With a string of business and property interests in both Australia and Lebanon, Obeid was already wealthy when he entered Parliament and he continued to build both his financial and political empires while an MP.

And it was the mixing of his political and business ties which eventually led to him being convicted on June 28 this year of misconduct in a public office.

Obeid was found to have lobbied the then-deputy chief executive of the State Maritime Authority, Steve Dunn, over Circular Quay leases — without revealing that his family secretly owned a series of harbourside cafes in the Quay.

The Crown said Obeid knew Mr Dunn from when he had been fisheries minister, and argued that he misused his position as an Upper House MP to “dupe” Mr Dunn into believing he was acting on behalf of constituents.

The court found he was in fact trying to stop a competitive tender process for the leases to financially benefit his own family.

Prosecution not to be scoffed at

The prosecution stemmed from a corrupt conduct finding by the ICAC.

In his findings in the ICAC inquiry into the Circular Quay leases, assistant commissioner Anthony Whealy described the former MP’s actions as demonstrating “the moral vacuum at the core of his political being”.

When the ICAC first handed down its finding, Obeid scoffed that he believed there was “less than a one per cent chance” that he would be prosecuted as a result.

Even when charged, he still said he had “no concerns whatsoever” and was “very confident” he would not be convicted because he was innocent.

The court found otherwise.

Labor has done its best to exorcise itself of Obeid, ending his influence and calling for the courts to throw the full force of the law at him.

But no matter how hard it may try, Obeid’s fingerprints will forever remain all over a chapter of its political history in NSW.

R v Obeid Judgement Dec 15 2016


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R v Obeid (No 12) [2016] NSWSC 1815 (15 December 2016)

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Last Updated: 15 December 2016

Supreme Court

New South Wales

JUDGMENT

  1. HIS HONOUR: In Australian Communist Party v The Commonwealth,[1] Dixon J warned that democratic “[f]orms of government may need protection from dangers likely to arise from within the institutions to be protected”.[2] This case provides an illustration of such a danger.
  2. On 6 June 2016 the offender, Edward Moses Obeid, was arraigned in this Court on an indictment that charged him with one count of the common law offence of wilful misconduct in public office. He pleaded not guilty. A jury was empanelled and the trial proceeded.
  3. On Tuesday 28 June 2016 the jury returned a verdict of guilty. I recorded a conviction. The proceedings were adjourned until 12 August 2016 for submissions on sentence. The sentence proceedings were later adjourned to 6 October 2016 on Mr Obeid’s application due to his ill health. They were further adjourned to 1 December 2016 on the application of the Crown.
  4. In DPP v Marks [2005] VSCA 277 at [35], Nettle JA (as his Honour then was) identified the object of the offence of wilful misconduct in public office as ensuring a public official does not “abuse intentionally the trust reposed in him” or her. In this case, the essence of the criminality alleged against Mr Obeid was that he intentionally abused the public trust reposed in him as a Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales by using his position to make representations to a senior officer of the Maritime Authority of NSW, Mr Stephen Dunn, to advance the financial interests of himself or at least his family
  5. Now that Mr Obeid has been convicted, the Crown contends that no sentence other than full time imprisonment should be imposed. On behalf of Mr Obeid it is contended that the Court can and should impose a sentence that falls short of that sanction, especially when regard is had to his personal circumstances including his age, ill health and prior good conduct.
  6. To address these submissions and determine the appropriate sentence it is first necessary to set out the background to the commission of the offence by Mr Obeid, describe the conduct he engaged in, determine what the jury necessarily found by its verdict, identify the relevant principles that apply to the sentencing exercise and outline the subjective case put forward on Mr Obeid’s behalf.

Background

  1. To the extent that the following description of the background to the offence refers to established facts, they were either agreed at the trial or at least not in issue.
  2. Mr Obeid was elected to the Legislative Council in 1991.[3] He retired from Parliament in 2011.[4] From April 1999 to April 2003 he was the Minister for Fisheries.[5]
  3. In the period leading up to the Sydney Olympics, the public body responsible for wharves 1 to 5 at Circular Quay, being the Waterways Authority, entered into new leases for the businesses situated on those wharves. The term of each lease was approximately five years and they were all due to expire on or about 31 August 2005. They did not include options for renewal.[6]
  4. During 2005, the Waterways Authority was renamed the “NSW Maritime Authority” (the “Maritime Authority”).[7] At all relevant times, Ministerial responsibility for the Waterways Authority, and then the Maritime Authority, rested with the Minister for Ports and Waterways. Until August 2005, Michael Costa was the responsible Minister. From August 2005 to February 2006, Eric Roozendaal was the Minister. From February 2006 until November 2009, Joseph Tripodi was the Minister for Ports and Waterways.[8]
  5. In or about late 2002, Circular Quay Restaurants Pty Ltd (“CQR”) purchased two businesses operating under leases at the Circular Quay wharves, namely the Café Sorrentino on Wharf 4 and the Quay Eatery on Wharf 5, for $1 million each.[9] It also purchased another business in the vicinity of the wharves known as the Arc Cafe[10] for $400,000.00,[11] however it need not be mentioned further.
  6. CQR took assignments of the leases for Café Sorrentino and Quay Eatery on the same terms and conditions as the existing tenants, including the expiry date in August 2005.[12] Mr Obeid’s brotherinlaw, Mr John Abood, was the sole Director and shareholder of CQR. It was an agreed fact that “via a series of trusts 90% of the interest in the business[es] flowed to the Obeid Family Trust No. 2”.[13] This was a discretionary trust, the potential beneficiaries of which were members of the Obeid family, including Mr Obeid and his wife, Judith.[14] Further, there was evidence at the trial that $1.398 million of the funds for the purchase of the businesses came from a mortgage of the home that Mr Obeid and his wife resided in and which his wife owned. A ledger entry from the family business records that, six days prior to the purchase of the businesses, $3.4 million was received from that mortgage of which $1.398 million was distributed to CQR and just over $1.557 million was distributed to, or at least on behalf of, Mr Obeid.[15]
  7. Although Mr Abood was the Director and shareholder of CQR, the acquisition of the businesses and its financing was arranged by Mr Obeid’s sons, principally Damien Obeid.[16] Mr Abood managed the businesses on a daytoday basis.[17] For that he was paid a salary and provided with a motor vehicle.[18] Damien Obeid was responsible for the collection of the cash takings of the businesses and payment of its invoices.[19] Damien Obeid arranged for the cash takings to be delivered to Sam Achie, the financial controller, and Paul Maroon, a bookkeeper. They both worked at the offices of Obeid Corporation at Birkenhead Point.[20]
  8. In his evidence, Damien Obeid denied that from the time his father entered Parliament he played any role in the family businesses or that he discussed the family businesses with his father.[21] He specifically denied discussing with his father “anything at all about how the businesses [at Circular Quay] were going, what the lease problems were, or anything like that”.[22] However, Damien Obeid understood that his father was aware that he and his brothers had invested in the businesses at Circular Quay.[23]
  9. Damien Obeid said that, shortly after the businesses were acquired, he requested that Paul Maroon set aside approximately $1000 to $1200 per week from the cash takings of CQR for delivery to Judith Obeid.[24] Damien Obeid stated that this was merely a continuation of an arrangement for the provision of cash to her from one family business or another which was always accounted for as a payment by Obeid Corporation.[25]
  10. There was also evidence capable of suggesting that Mr Obeid received his own cash payments from CQR’s takings from sometime in 2007. Tendered at the trial were a series of spreadsheets prepared by Mr Maroon.[26] The spreadsheets each had a file name referable to a particular date or week in the period August 2007 to October 2011. The spreadsheets included entries referable to the distribution of CQR’s cash takings. The entries in the spreadsheets juxtaposed amounts of cash with references to Judith Obeid, Mr Obeid or both of them. On their face, those spreadsheets suggested that regular cash payments were made to Mr Obeid over and above the amounts paid to Judith Obeid. In addition, there were other electronic documents prepared by Mr Maroon which contained references to payments to “mum and dad”[27] or “EO and JO”.[28]
  11. Mr Maroon’s oral evidence had its difficulties in that his memory has been significantly affected by medication he takes for epilepsy.[29] As a consequence, the jury was instructed that it should exercise caution in determining whether to accept his evidence and attach weight to it.[30] Mr Maroon said that the entries in the spreadsheets reflected instructions he received that were recorded on approximately the same day they were given to him, “usually” by Damien Obeid.[31] He said the spreadsheet entries recorded instructions to prepare envelopes with an amount of cash in them which he provided to Damien Obeid or one of his brothers.[32] Sometimes the envelope was marked up to reflect the instruction.[33] However, Mr Maroon agreed that he did not remember the circumstances of any particular entry,[34] that he never saw what happened to the envelopes of cash he gave to Damien Obeid,[35] and that he never saw Mr Obeid Senior receive any cash from CQR’s businesses.[36] Mr Maroon accepted that it was “possible” that the references to “mum and dad” in his spreadsheets could have been a reference “to the household expenses of the Obeid family”.[37]
  12. Mr Damien Obeid repeatedly denied asking Mr Maroon to set aside money for his father out of CQR’s takings or ever instructing Mr Maroon to write “Dad” on any envelope or that ever he provided any money to his father.[38] He stated that, while he and his family were living with his parents from 2006 to the “end of 2008 or perhaps even early 2009”,[39] there was an increase in the amount of cash payments of “up to $2000” per week.[40] This appears to roughly correspond with the total of the amounts referred to in the spreadsheets listed against Mr Obeid and his wife in that period.
  13. For each of the lessees of the businesses at the wharves, the insecurity of their tenure was a cause of considerable concern. This was particularly the case for CQR in that, if the leases were not renewed, then it was likely that the funds outlayed to purchase the businesses would not be recovered.
  14. In August 2004, five representatives of the lessees at the wharves wrote to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (“SHFA”) which was managing the properties for the Maritime Authority, expressing their concern about the security of their tenure and seeking a response to their request to renew their leases.[41] Mr Abood was one of the signatories to the letter. On 2 September 2004, SHFA responded stating that all lease agreements would be offered for competitive tender upon their expiry and that the tendering process would commence “early in the new year.”[42]
  15. Mr Abood said that around this time he had meetings with other tenants about the issue. Damien Obeid recommended they speak to his cousin, Dennis Jabour, who had experience in property management. Mr Jabour in turn suggested they retain Mr Paul Scanlan, a professional negotiator with legal qualifications and experience in retail tenancies. Ultimately, Mr Scanlan was retained to act on behalf of three separate tenants, including CQR.[43] Mr Scanlan was instructed to lobby the Maritime Authority on their behalf[44] in order to achieve either a renewal of their leases or at least agreement to direct negotiations over lease renewals.[45]
  16. From late 2004 to early 2008, Mr Scanlan did as he was instructed. He wrote a number of letters on behalf of the lessees to SHFA and the Maritime Authority. He made numerous telephone calls and attended many meetings with Maritime Authority staff. In July 2006 he secured a meeting with Minister Tripodi. Throughout this time Mr Scanlan emphasised the unfairness to the lessees in requiring them to compete in an open tender and that doing so was detrimental for the Maritime Authority in that it meant that the tenants were reluctant to invest in the upkeep of their premises.
  17. Despite his efforts, until the middle of 2007 Mr Scanlan was unsuccessful in obtaining any change in the Maritime Authority’s position. However, even though by early 2005 preparations for an open tender process were well advanced, the Maritime Authority did not proceed to competitive tender for the leases. Instead the leases were extended for six months from August 2005 and thereafter they became monthtomonth tenancies.[46] A ten per cent increase in rent was applied during the holding over period.[47]
  18. The former Chief Executive Officer of the Maritime Authority, Christopher Oxenbould, explained that this delay was the result of internal government disagreements concerning the Maritime Authority’s commercial leasing policy (the “CLP”) and its approach to the Circular Quay precinct. There were differing views within the Maritime Authority and between the differing Ministers from time to time as to whether the CLP should provide that, upon the expiry of a lease of Maritime Authority property, a new lease should be the subject of a market based tender on the one hand or existing tenants should be allowed the opportunity to first negotiate a renewed lease on the other. In relation to Circular Quay, Mr Oxenbould stated that within the Maritime Property division of the Maritime Authority there was a “very strong belief” that the process of renewal for the Circular Quay leases was a special case compared with those addressed in the proposed CLP and should only be renewed by a process of competitive tender.[48]
  19. Mr Oxenbould stated that around mid-2007, the fate of the proposed CLP and the Circular Quay leases became linked.[49] It was around this time that Mr Obeid made the “representations” the subject of the charge against him which I will now describe.

The Representations

  1. Mr Patrick Low was appointed to a senior policy position within the Maritime Authority in November 2006.[50] He assumed responsibility for the finalisation of the CLP. In his evidence, Mr Low said that he did not draw any distinction between retail leases at Circular Quay and other retail leases of Maritime Authority property.[51] On 7 August 2007, Mr Low circulated Version 9 of the draft CLP.[52] It contemplated retail leases of Maritime Authority property being offered on a competitive basis, including on their expiry.[53]
  2. On 15 August 2007, Mr Stephen Dunn took up an appointment as Deputy Chief Executive of the Maritime Authority.[54] On 21 August 2007, he was appointed to the additional position of General Manager of the Maritime Property Division.[55] Mr Dunn was the Director General of Fisheries from late 1999 to 2004, which included the period when Mr Obeid was the Minister for Fisheries.[56] Mr Dunn said that he and Mr Obeid came to know each other well during this period but they did not socialise although Mr Dunn regarded Mr Obeid as a mentor.[57] After he ceased work at the Department of Fisheries, Mr Dunn worked overseas for two years. When he returned he and Mr Obeid met infrequently for coffee.[58] Mr Dunn said that, in the period immediately before he was appointed, Mr Obeid contacted him and that Mr Obeid either was or became aware that Mr Dunn was about to commence in a senior position with the Maritime Authority.[59]
  3. During the morning of 17 August 2007, Mr Obeid telephoned Mr Dunn. Mr Dunn returned his call. Mr Dunn said that to his recollection Mr Obeid said that “he was unhappy about the way the group of tenants at Circular Quay had been treated by the Maritime Authority” and asked Mr Dunn to “meet with a barrister that represented them, Mr Paul Scanlan”. Mr Dunn also recalled that Mr Obeid “made some very disparaging remarks” about the Maritime Authority and the way they treated the tenants.[60] He recalled that Mr Obeid said that the leaseholders at Circular Quay “were bullied by Maritime Authority staff and that they were not treated fairly in their dealing with Maritime Authority staff”.[61] Mr Dunn recalled that Mr Obeid was “agitated” and used “quite strong language” to convey his feelings about the “behaviour of the Maritime Property staff about the way they treated stakeholders”.[62] In cross examination, Mr Dunn agreed that Mr Obeid did not advocate any outcome other than him meeting with Mr Scanlan and did not expand upon the tenants’ grievances.[63]
  4. At no time during that or any other conversation did Mr Obeid indicate to Mr Dunn that he or his family had any direct or indirect financial interest in the Circular Quay leases.[64] Instead, Mr Dunn said that he knew Mr Obeid was a Member of the Legislative Council and believed “very much that [Mr Obeid] was calling on behalf of constituents”.[65]
  5. The telephone records indicate that there were five further telephone conversations between Mr Dunn and Mr Obeid after the call on 17 August 2007, being calls on 21 August 2007, 27 August 2007, the evening of 28 August 2007, 3 September 2007[66] and 11 September 2007.[67] Mr Dunn had no specific recollection of those conversations but he accepted that with the conversation on 21 August 2007 there was nothing to discuss other than the Circular Quay leases[68] and that with the telephone call on 28 August 2007 it was likely they had discussed Mr Dunn’s meeting with Mr Scanlan earlier that day.[69] He recalled that in the telephone calls on 5 and 11 September 2007, Mr Obeid was seeking “updates”.[70]
  6. As noted, on or about 28 August 2007, Mr Dunn met Mr Scanlan.[71] Mr Low said he also attended[72] but neither Mr Dunn nor Mr Scanlan could recall him being present at the meeting.[73] Around this time, Mr Dunn and Mr Low met to discuss Version 9 of the draft CLP. Mr Low recalled Mr Dunn directing that it be changed from requiring open tenders of leases to instead having a “benchmark of lease renewals on commercial terms”.[74] Mr Dunn did not accept that he directed such changes but instead said he was “encouraging Mr Low [that] this was a suitable policy response”.[75] Both recalled that Mr Low obtained the approval of the Minister and Mr Oxenbould for the changes.[76]
  7. On or about 4 September 2007, Version 10 of the draft CLP was produced.[77] This version now provided that retail leases would be “offered via direct negotiations” with existing tenants in the first instance.[78] On the same date Mr Dunn wrote to Mr Scanlan advising that the Maritime Authority was reviewing its lease policy and that no further increases in rent would be sought during the holdover period.[79]
  8. Two further versions of the draft CLP were produced but the approach to renewals of existing retail leases did not change from Version 10.[80] The final CLP was approved by cabinet on 26 November 2007.[81] Negotiations over a new lease commenced with Mr Scanlan on 29 November 2007.[82] A new lease for CQR’s businesses was signed in 2008. However, the businesses ultimately failed sometime around 2012[83] and the leases were terminated.

The Jury’s Verdict

  1. To properly characterise Mr Obeid’s offending, it is necessary to explain the elements of the offence of wilful misconduct in public office and the directions given to the jury in order to determine what the jury necessarily found in returning a guilty verdict. In addition, it is the sentencing judge’s function to make such further findings of fact as may be necessary for sentencing provided that they are consistent with the jury’s verdict. If any such findings are adverse to the offender, they must be proven beyond reasonable doubt but otherwise they are to be made on the balance of probabilities (see R v Olbrich [1999] HCA 54; 199 CLR 270 (“Olbrich”) at [27] per Gleeson CJ, Gaudron, Hayne and Callinan JJ).
  2. In Obeid v R [2015] NSWCCA 309 at [133] to [142], Bathurst CJ, Beazley P and Leeming JA accepted the formulation of the five elements of the offence of wilful misconduct in public office enunciated in R v Quach [2010] VSCA 106; 201 A Crim R 522 (“Quach”) at [46]. In Mr Obeid’s case it was accepted that one of those elements, namely, that the relevant misconduct was undertaken “without reasonable excuse or justification”, did not arise as no evidence or submissions put forward were capable of raising any such excuse or justification that was not necessarily excluded by a finding that he wilfully misconducted himself.[84] Accordingly, the jury was instructed that it had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the remaining four elements stated in Quach adapted to the case against Mr Obeid,[85] being first that he was a public officer, second that in making representations to Mr Dunn Mr Obeid acted “in the course of or connected to his public office”, third that in so acting he wilfully misconducted himself and fourth that his conduct in making representations was misconduct that was serious and merited criminal punishment. I will deal with each element in turn.
  3. In relation to the first element, the jury was instructed that as a matter of law a Member of the Legislative Council is a public officer: Obeid v R [2015] NSWCCA 309 at [119] to [123].[86]
  4. In relation to the second element, the jury was instructed that the functions and responsibilities of a Member of the Legislative Council include “scrutinising the actions of the executive government” and “communicat[ing] with the executive government about matters affecting the State by, for example, making representations, suggestions or even protesting to a Minister or departments about their policies and practices”[87] (see Horne v Barber [1920] HCA 33; 27 CLR 494 at 500 to 501 per Isaacs J; R v Boston [1923] HCA 59; 33 CLR 386; “Boston” at 402 to 403 per Isaacs and Rich JJ; R v Obeid (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 1380 at [105]). In this case, the nature and circumstances of the conversation between Mr Dunn and Mr Obeid and the absence of any disclosure by Mr Obeid that he or his family had any interest in the leases clearly suggested that, objectively considered, Mr Obeid’s conduct was undertaken in the course of or connected to his public office. The jury so concluded.
  5. In relation to the third element, namely, that Mr Obeid wilfully misconducted himself, the jury was instructed that it had to be satisfied of three matters beyond reasonable doubt, namely, that: Mr Obeid engaged in the conduct identified in the indictment, that such conduct was misconduct that is a breach of the duties and obligations attached to his office as a Member of the Legislative Council and that the misconduct was “wilful”.[88]
  6. The relevant conduct alleged against Mr Obeid in the indictment was that while he held office as a Member of the Legislative Council he made representations to Mr Dunn, “with the intention of securing an outcome from the … Maritime Authority favourable to [CQR] in respect of its tenancies of properties at Circular Quay, knowing at the time he made the representations that he had a commercial and/or beneficial and/or family and/or personal interest in the said tenancies which he did not disclose to Stephen Paul Dunn.”[89]
  7. The jury was instructed that this aspect of the indictment raised four matters of fact, each of which it had to be satisfied of beyond reasonable doubt, namely, that Mr Obeid had an interest in the tenancies, that he knew that such an interest existed, that he did not disclose any such interest to Mr Dunn and that he made representations to Mr Dunn with the “intention of securing an outcome” favourable to CQR.[90]
  8. In relation to Mr Obeid and his family’s interest in the tenancies I have already referred to the agreed fact that Mr Obeid and his family had an interest via the trust arrangement ([12]). I have also referred to the evidence concerning the mortgage of his residence that was owned by his wife which was used to finance part of the acquisition of the businesses ([12]), the evidence of weekly cash payments made to Mr Obeid’s wife ([15]) and the evidence of the further cash payments that the Crown contended were made to Mr Obeid directly ([16] to [18]). It follows from the jury’s verdict that it was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Obeid had an “interest” of the kind referred to in the indictment. The indirect interest via a trust was agreed and the evidence of the mortgage and cash payments to Judith Obeid was undisputed. I consider it follows that the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of those three matters. To the extent that there may be some uncertainty in this respect I record that I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of those matters.
  9. However, it does not necessarily follow from its verdict that the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Obeid personally received the cash payments described as payments to “EO” or “Dad” or the like in Mr Maroon’s spreadsheets. Given that Mr Maroon never stated that he provided them to Mr Obeid Senior personally, and his concession that the reference to “Mum or Dad” in his spreadsheet could have been a reference to payments to the household expenses of the Obeid family, I am not satisfied of that matter beyond reasonable doubt. However, it was not disputed that the payments described as being for “EO” or “Dad” or the like in Mr Maroon’s spreadsheets represented actual cash amounts that were delivered to Mr Obeid’s household and, if not given to him, then they were at least given to his wife Judith. Damien Obeid agreed that the amount of cash payments increased from around 2006. Accordingly, I consider it follows that the jury was satisfied of at least that fact. To the extent that there may be some uncertainty in this respect I am also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of that fact.
  10. As for Mr Obeid’s knowledge of his and his family’s interest, it follows from the verdict that the jury was satisfied of that as well. In particular, it is overwhelmingly likely that Mr Obeid was aware of the substantial financial outlay his family made to purchase the businesses, especially when he received part of the proceeds of the same mortgage that was used to finance the purchase (see [12]). It is also overwhelmingly likely that Mr Obeid was aware of which business was being used to provide cash to his household. Further, while Damien Obeid gave evidence that he did not discuss the family’s businesses with his father, I am satisfied the jury rejected that aspect of his evidence and was satisfied of the contrary beyond reasonable doubt. To the extent there may be any uncertainty in this respect, I am also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of that matter. The exquisite timing of Mr Obeid’s telephone contact with Mr Dunn demonstrates that he was very familiar with the position of his family businesses and the threat they faced.
  11. In relation to the absence of disclosure by Mr Obeid to Mr Dunn of his interest in the tenancies, Mr Dunn’s uncontested evidence was that Mr Obeid made no such disclosure in any way (see [29]).91[91]t follows from its verdict that the jury was satisfied of that matter.
  12. In relation to that part of the indictment that alleged that Mr Obeid made representations to Mr Dunn with the “intention of securing an outcome” favourable to CQR I have already described Mr Dunn’s uncontested evidence of his discussions with Mr Obeid. The jury clearly accepted that evidence. At the trial, there was no real contest that Mr Obeid made “representations” to Mr Dunn. However, there was a contest about the content and effect of those representations and then in turn, Mr Obeid’s motives, intentions and state of mind in making them.
  13. At the trial it was contended on behalf of Mr Obeid that the request he made of Mr Dunn was relatively innocuous in that he did not urge any outcome on Mr Dunn and did not expand upon the tenants’ grievances. In contrast, in his final address, the Crown Prosecutor effectively submitted that Mr Obeid’s intervention was a careful and nuanced act designed to prime Mr Dunn to be receptive to Mr Scanlan’s arguments. The Crown submitted that Mr Obeid chose Mr Dunn because he was someone with whom he had an existing relationship and he knew was influential. The Crown submitted that Mr Obeid did more than simply ring Mr Dunn and ask him to meet Mr Scanlan. The Crown submitted that Mr Obeid conveyed to Mr Dunn in clear terms his strong disapproval with the way the Maritime Authority was treating the tenants at Circular Quay. The Crown submitted that by not mentioning his interest in the tenancies Mr Obeid duped Mr Dunn into believing that he was asking him to meet with Mr Scanlan on behalf of arm’s length constituents who had a genuine grievance with the Maritime Authority. I consider that it follows from the jury’s verdict that the jury accepted what the Crown submitted was Mr Obeid’s motives and intentions in contacting Mr Dunn. To the extent that there may be some uncertainty in this respect I am satisfied of those matters beyond reasonable doubt.
  14. At this point, it is important to note a specific direction given to the jury about this part of the indictment; ie that part that refers to Mr Obeid having an “intention of securing an outcome” favourable to CQR. At the trial, Mr Tripodi, gave evidence that he had served on a parliamentary committee with Mr Obeid from 1996 to 1998.[92] Mr Tripodi said that he recalled that Mr Obeid had instanced the Circular Quay lessees as examples of government tenants who had been mistreated and referred to other government departments “where they did have a right of renewal and he felt that was good policy”.[93] There was also an agreed fact that Mr Obeid and Mr Tripodi had discussions on that topic after Mr Tripodi became Minister for Ports and Waterways.[94]
  15. Thus, on behalf of Mr Obeid it was submitted to the jury that he had a long held view about unfair government treatment of tenants, including those at Circular Quay. It was also submitted that that matter, and the supposedly innocuous nature of his intervention, negated any suggestion that Mr Obeid intervened to promote his or his family’s financial interests and instead suggested he intervened because he believed the Maritime Authority was mistreating the Circular Quay tenants.[95] A submission to similar effect was made on behalf of Mr Obeid at the sentencing hearing.[96]
  16. This aspect of Mr Obeid’s case raised a possibility that the jury might conclude that, or be left with a doubt about whether, Mr Obeid made representations to Mr Dunn having both an intention to secure a favourable outcome for CQR and a belief that it was part of his duty to his constituents to point out unfair treatment by the Maritime Authority. Over the objection of the Crown,[97] I directed the jury that it had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct of Mr Obeid “in making the representations to Mr Dunn was undertaken with the intention of benefitting [CQR], that is for the purpose of promoting Mr Obeid’s pecuniary interests or those of his family or those close to him and that it was not undertaken because he in any way genuinely believed it was in the public interest or the interests of the electorate or even part of the electorate”.[98] I directed the jury that if it were not so satisfied then Mr Obeid had to be acquitted.[99]
  17. It follows from its verdict that the jury rejected the reasonable possibility that Mr Obeid was even partly motivated to speak to Mr Dunn by a genuine belief that doing so was in the public interest, the interests of the electorate or even the interests of part of the electorate. Instead, the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Obeid was solely motivated to benefit CQR and through it himself or his family. That aspect of the jury’s finding is especially significant to an assessment of Mr Obeid’s criminality.
  18. The next matter the jury was required to consider in relation to the third element was whether the Crown had proven beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct that Mr Obeid engaged in was misconduct, that is, a breach of the duties and obligations of his office as a Member of the Legislative Council.[100] In that respect, the jury was instructed that parliamentarians are required to “act with fidelity and single mindedness for the welfare of the community” (Boston at 400 per Isaacs and Rich JJ)[101] and, in particular, that parliamentarians “must act only according to what they believe to be in the public interest and the interests of the electorate and must not use their position for the purpose of promoting their own pecuniary interests or those of their family or entities close to them”.[102] Clearly, the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of that matter. It follows inexorably from the finding that Mr Obeid’s intervention was solely motivated to benefit CQR and through it himself or at least his family.
  19. The final aspect of the third element that the jury was satisfied of beyond reasonable doubt was that Mr Obeid’s misconduct was “wilful”. In this respect, the jury was instructed that, for the misconduct to be wilful, Mr Obeid must either have known that he was obliged not to use his position in that way, or he knew that it was possible that he was obliged not to use his position in that way but chose to do so anyway (R v Obeid (No 11) [2016] NSWSC 974).[103] The jury’s verdict does not resolve whether the misconduct was intentional or reckless. I record that I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was intentional. As at 2007, Mr Obeid had been a Member of Parliament for 16 years and had previously been a Minister for three years. In those circumstances, I consider it inconceivable that he would not have known that he could not use his position as a parliamentarian to further his or his family’s financial interests.
  20. The fourth element of the offence was that Mr Obeid’s misconduct was serious and merited criminal punishment having regard to the responsibilities of the office and the officeholder, the importance of the public objects which they serve and the nature and extent of the departure from those objects.[104] In relation to this issue the jury was instructed that this crime is not established by an error or a mistake but instead the misconduct “must be worthy of condemnation and punishment.”[105] This element of the crime posed what is often described as a “classic jury question”, namely, a question the answer to which requires a normative assessment undertaken by reference to community standards. The fact that a jury determined that Mr Obeid’s conduct was worthy of condemnation and punishment does not foreclose the adoption of any particular sentencing option. However, as I will explain, it is a significant matter to consider in sentencing Mr Obeid (see [69]).
  21. Before concluding this analysis of the jury’s verdict, it is necessary to note four matters that arise out of the written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid.
  22. First, it was not part of the Crown case that Mr Dunn acted improperly and there was no evidence adduced to suggest that he did. Mr Dunn’s undisputed evidence was that he would have met with Mr Scanlan irrespective of Mr Obeid’s intervention[106] and that the position he took in relation to the CLP was based on his own assessment.[107] In particular, he concluded that the level of stakeholder opposition to a competitive process was very strong[108] and that a change in the culture of the Maritime Property Division and its approach to Circular Quay tenants was necessary.[109]
  23. The written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid contended that his representations to Mr Dunn ultimately had no effect on the decision reached by the Maritime Authority to offer new leases to CQR.[110] The Crown did not contend to the contrary and I accept that. However, that matter cannot be taken too far. There is no evidence from which it can be concluded that Mr Obeid was aware of Mr Dunn’s attitude to the Circular Quay leases prior to making his telephone call. On the evidence adduced at the trial it was only sheer chance that, in speaking to Mr Dunn, Mr Obeid was pushing on an open door.
  24. Second, the written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid contend that he did not receive any financial benefit as a result of his offending conduct because he had only a potential interest in CQR’s businesses[111] and because the businesses ultimately went broke and the leases were terminated.[112] The finding that I have just made means that ultimately Mr Obeid’s representations to Mr Dunn did not confer any financial advantage on him or any member of his family. However, as I have explained, the effect of the jury’s verdict is that it found that he was solely motivated to lobby Mr Dunn to benefit either himself or his family. Given the closeness of the various family interests it makes no difference to any assessment of Mr Obeid’s criminality whether he sought to profit personally, benefit his wife, protect his sons’ investment or pursue all three.
  25. Third, the written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid incorrectly contend that the essence of Mr Obeid’s criminality was his failure to disclose his interest in the leases to Mr Dunn.[113] Mr Obeid’s offence was not some omission to tell Mr Dunn of his or his family’s interest in CQR. The proper performance of his duty as a parliamentarian required that he not communicate with Mr Dunn for the purpose of advancing his or his family’s pecuniary interests. Nothing in this judgment should be taken as accepting that it was permissible for a parliamentarian such as Mr Obeid to lobby Mr Dunn to advance his or his family’s financial interests provided he disclose his or their interest. Whether parliamentarians can act in that manner without misconducting themselves was not an issue requiring resolution in this proceeding. In addition, I note that in this case Mr Dunn stated that, if Mr Obeid had disclosed his or his family’s interests in the Circular Quay leases, it would have affected the process of decision making[114] in that there would have been “a very high level of transparency” in respect of the decision making process and “[m]ore records or full records would have needed to be maintained about that potential conflict of interest.”[115]
  26. Fourth, Mr Obeid did not give evidence at his trial or at the sentence hearing. Instead, a report from a psychologist, Dr Christopher Lennings, was tendered which included his explanation for the offence.[116] This means of adducing such evidence is problematic in that the offender’s version cannot be tested (R v Qutami [2001] NSWCCA 353 at [58] to [59] per Smart AJ with whom Spigelman CJ agreed). Dr Lennings’ report recounts Mr Obeid stating that for a long period he had an interest in what he regarded as the mistreatment of traders at Circular Quay which prompted him to contact Mr Dunn and that his sons’ interest in the businesses at the Quay was only “coincidental”.[117] It follows from what I have stated that I must reject this explanation as it is completely inconsistent with the jury’s verdict.

Approach to Sentencing

  1. In R v Obeid (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 1380 at [1] I observed that, even though the Parliament of New South Wales has enacted detailed statutory regimes for the detection, investigation and prevention of corrupt conduct by public officials,[118] for reasons best known to itself, the Parliament has not enacted legislation specifying whether and, if so, what improper or corrupt conduct by its own members constitutes a crime. Instead, Parliament left that topic to the vagaries and uncertainties of the common law.
  2. Since that statement, some of the uncertainties surrounding the application of the common law offence of wilful misconduct in public office to a parliamentarian have been resolved by the Court of Criminal Appeal’s judgment in Obeid v R [2015] NSWCCA 309. Further, in relation to sentencing, the provisions of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) (“Sentencing Act”) apply to common law offences as well as statutory offences. Five aspects of that legislation are of particular relevance to the sentencing of Mr Obied, namely:
    • the identification of the purposes of sentencing (s 3A);
    • the prohibition on a Court sentencing an offender to imprisonment unless, having considered the alternatives, it is satisfied that no other form of punishment is appropriate (s 5(1));
    • the power, in some circumstances, to impose home detention or an intensive correction order on a person sentenced to a term of imprisonment (ss 6 and 7);
    • the specification of aggravating, mitigating and other factors in sentencing (s 21A); and
    • the power of the Court to alter the minimum ratio between a non-parole period and the balance of a sentence if “special circumstances” are found (s 44(2)).
  3. Nevertheless, the absence of a statutory regime governing the conduct of parliamentarians means that resort must be had, at least in part, to the common law to ascertain the relevant principles to be applied in sentencing a parliamentarian who has been convicted of wilful misconduct in public office. In particular, as wilful misconduct in public office is a common law offence there is no specified maximum penalty. This is a significant omission because, in sentencing for offences created by statute, the maximum penalty is a crucial component of the sentencing process because “[t]he maximum penalty for a statutory offence serves as an indication of the relative seriousness of the offence” and “[a]n increase in the maximum penalty for an offence is an indication that sentences for that offence should be increased” (Muldrock v The Queen [2011] HCA 39; 244 CLR 120 at [31]).
  4. Instead, in sentencing for common law offences, the Courts adopt an analogous or corresponding statutory offence as a “reference point” for the imposition of a penalty (R v Hokin, Burton and Peisely [1922] NSWStRp 19; (1922) 22 SR (NSW) 280 at 291; Jaturawong v Regina [2011] NSWCCA 168; “Jaturawong; at [5]; Blackstock v Regina [2013] NSWCCA 172; “Blackstock”; at [8]). However, the adoption of the maximum penalty for a corresponding statutory provision as a reference point does not “fetter the discretion” to impose a sentence “which remains at large” and can be greater than that maximum (Blackstock at [11]).
  5. In Jaturawong at [6], Beazley JA (as her Honour then was and with whom Hall and Harrison JJ agreed) identified the relevant statutory analogue to the charge of misconduct in public office in that case as the offences of corruptly receiving commissions and other corrupt practices provided for in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The maximum penalty for those offences was seven years imprisonment. In Jaturawong the principal offender was the manager of a Motor Registry who received regular payments to improperly allow applicants to obtain learner permits or drivers licences (at [14] to [18]). In Blackstock, the Court of Criminal Appeal also relied on the maximum of seven years imprisonment for the offences in Part 4A of the Crimes Act as a reference point (at [9]). The offender in Blackstock was a project officer employed by RailCorp who included a business in which he secretly held an interest on a list of possible contractors for consideration by his superiors (at [26]) and then “played a part in the allocation of work” to the business (at [28]).
  6. Neither of Jaturawong nor Blackstock hold that in all cases of misconduct in public office the relevant statutory analogue are those offences set out in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act. Instead, it was only found to be the appropriate analogue in those cases. As the decisions in R v Pieper [2014] NSWDC 242 and R v Purcell [2010] NSWDC 98 discussed below illustrate, the breadth of circumstances that could constitute the offence of misconduct in public office mean that other statutory analogues may be appropriate in a given case.
  7. In this case I am satisfied that the offences found in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act are the relevant analogue. Section 249B(1) of the Crimes Act effectively criminalises most forms of bribery by making it an offence for an agent to receive or solicit a benefit as an inducement or reward for doing something or not doing something in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal. This provision is directed at an agent who receives or solicits a corrupt reward to breach their duty to their principal. Mr Obeid’s offending is broadly analogous to this because his conduct involved him breaching his duty to the public by using his position to further his or his family’s financial interests. There is no difference in substance between a parliamentarian receiving a bribe to advance the private interests of a third party and a parliamentarian using their position to advance their own pecuniary interests.
  8. Nevertheless, accepting that the offences found in Pt 4A, especially s 249B, are the relevant analogue, a comparison of the elements of the crime of wilful misconduct in public office with the offence of corruptly receiving a commission or reward in s 249B(1) reveals two differences of significance.
  9. The first is that the class of persons caught by the offence of wilful misconduct in public office generally occupy a more senior position than those caught by s 249B(1). With the latter, the persons subject to the offence are those who satisfy the definition of “agent” in s 249A, which includes “any person employed by, or acting for or on behalf of, any other person” (sub-s (a)). With wilful misconduct in public office the concept of “public office” is broad but it does not extend to all persons employed by or acting on behalf of the State (Ex parte Kearney [1917] NSW St Rp 68; 17 SR (NSW) 578).
  10. The second is that, as already noted, it is an element of wilful misconduct in public office that the relevant misconduct was serious and merited criminal punishment. There is no equivalent element for any of the offences found in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act.
  11. Each of these differences bear out the justification for the Court not being limited by the maximum penalty for the relevant statutory analogue, in this case seven years imprisonment.
  12. Another matter of significance to the sentencing exercise is the consideration of sentences in other cases both in terms of comparing sentencing outcomes and discerning what are the “unifying principles which those sentences both reveal and reflect” (see Barbaro v The Queen; Zirilli v The Queen [2014] HCA 2; (2014) 253 CLR 58 at [41]). The difficulty is that there is not a significant cohort of sentences for the offence of wiful misconduct in public office and none concern a parliamentarian. Thus, in Jansen v Regina [2013] NSWCCA 301 (“Jansen”) at [64] to [65] Campbell J noted the breadth of circumstances that could give rise to the offence of wilful misconduct in public office and that the available cohort of such cases was so small that they “are not capable of providing useful material that may establish a [sentencing pattern]”. This is borne out by the sentencing statistics compiled by the Judicial Commission of New South Wales which only disclose ten sentences imposed for the offence since 2009, seven of which involved full time custody and the balance of which involved the imposition of an Intensive Corrections Order.
  13. Nevertheless, the parties placed before the Court the results of their research concerning sentences for wilful misconduct in public office and for other offences committed by or concerning parliamentarians. Out of deference to the parties’ efforts I will briefly describe some of the cases referred to.
  14. I have already outlined some of the facts of Jaturawong and Blackstock. In Jaturawong the principal offender had pleaded guilty to wilful misconduct in public office and a number of charges under s 249B of the Crimes Act which yielded a 20 per cent discount (at [9]). He was sentenced to two years six months imprisonment with a nonparole period of 12 months for the misconduct charge (at [11]). The principal offender did not appeal. Instead, the appeal in Jaturawong concerned the sentence imposed on an accessory before the fact, which was upheld on parity grounds. In Blackstock the applicant received a discount of 25 per cent on account of their plea of guilty (at [47]). He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with a nonparole period of three years (at [3]). His appeal was dismissed. Campbell J observed that the sentence was “within the range available” to the sentencing judge (at [68]).
  15. In Jansen a police officer who pleaded guilty to accessing police intelligence and other sensitive information and disseminating it was sentenced to a nonparole period of two years and additional terms of two and half years (at [4]). A number of other charges were included on a Form 1 under s 33 of the Sentencing Act and he was sentenced for various summary offences pursuant to s 166 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) (at [3]).
  16. In Hughes v R [2014] NSWCCA 15, the unsuccessful applicant for leave to appeal against sentence was a police officer who accessed a police database and created false intelligence reports. She pleaded guilty to two counts of wilful misconduct in public office, and two offences of giving false evidence to the Police Integrity Commission. For the first of the misconduct offences she received a fixed term of seven months imprisonment and for the second she received a total sentence of 18 months imprisonment with a nonparole period of nine months (at [5]).
  17. In R v Pieper [2014] NSWDC 242, the offender pleaded guilty to six counts of misconduct in public office and received a number of individual sentences totalling four years and nine months with an effective non-parole period of three years. The offender was the general manager of a County Council (at [9]) who orchestrated various frauds that resulted in his misappropriating over $350,000 (at [35]). Letherbarrow DCJ identified the relevant statutory analogue as larceny by a servant, the maximum penalty for which was ten years imprisonment (at [4]).
  18. In R v Purcell [2010] NSWDC 98, the offender was a police superintendent who persistently and deliberately disobeyed a direction from a superior officer concerning what the offender could say to members of the press about certain sexual assaults committed in the local area under his command (at [7]). Berman DCJ identified the relevant statutory analogue as an offence under s 201 of the Police Act 1990 (NSW) which carries a maximum penalty of a fine (at [17]). The offender was fined $2000 (at [38]).
  19. The written submissions filed on behalf Mr Obeid also referred to various sentencing decisions of interstate courts for wilful misconduct in public office. I have considered those authorities. None of them concern a parliamentarian, nor do they reveal any materially different outcome to the decisions of the courts of this State. The small number of them only confirms the infrequency with which sentences are imposed for this offence.
  20. These cases illustrate the variety of public officials who can commit the offence of wilful misconduct in public office and the variety of circumstances that can constitute the crime. These cases also illustrate that matters such as the period of the offending, the planning involved, its motivation and the direct loss occasioned or profit derived are all matters that bear upon an assessment of the level of criminality involved. However, the essence of the offence concerns a breach of trust in the form of a deliberate or reckless breach of a duty owed by a public official to the public (see DPP v Marks supra at [4]; HKSAR v Wong Kwong Shun Paul [2009] 4 HKLRD 840 at [44] per Yeung JA; Question of Law Reserved (No 2 of 1996) [1996] SASC 5674; 1996 67 SASR 63 at 66 per Doyle CJ). It must follow that a very significant matter to any assessment of the level of criminality involved is the nature of the duty that is owed and the extent of the breach. The more senior the public official the greater the level of public trust in their position and the more onerous the duty that is imposed. Under this State’s constitutional arrangements, and leaving aside the third arm of government, only Ministers occupy a more senior position than that occupied by parliamentarians.
  21. In its written submissions the Crown identified five cases involving offences either committed by or concerning parliamentarians, including Ministers. In this State the most notorious is Jackson & Hakim v R (1988) 33 A Crim R 413 (“Jackson”) in which the then Minister for Corrective Services was convicted of conspiracy for receiving bribes to effect the early release of prisoners on parole. Following a successful Crown appeal Jackson was resentenced to imprisonment for 10 years with a nonparole period of five years. In R v Rouse (Court of Criminal Appeal (Tas), 19 October 1990, unreported), (“Rouse”) a Crown appeal against the sentence of three years imprisonment imposed on a prominent businessman was dismissed. The offender had pleaded guilty to offering a bribe to a member of the Tasmanian Parliament to cross the floor. In R v Nuttall; ex parte Attorney-General (Qld) [2011] QCA 120; 209 A Crim R 538 (“Nuttall”) a Crown appeal against the sentence imposed upon a Queensland Cabinet Minister convicted of receiving secret commissions to plan and promote projects of his associates, was upheld. The offender was resentenced to imprisonment for a term of seven years, which ran concurrently with terms of imprisonment imposed for perjury offences.
  22. In R v Phillip Hans Field HC Auckland CRI-2007-092-18132, 6 October 2009 (“Field”) a member of the New Zealand Parliament was sentenced to concurrent sentences of four years imprisonment on each of eleven counts of bribery and corruption (at [89]). In his capacity as a parliamentarian, the offender had proffered advice and assistance to various trades people while accepting benefits from them in the form of work done on his properties (at [5]). In R v Bruneau, 1963 CarswellOnt 22; [1964] 1CCC 97; [1964] 1 OR 263, 42 CR 93 (“Bruneau”) a member of the Canadian Parliament who receive a corrupt payment to use his influence to have the Federal Government purchase the payer of the bribe’s property was resentenced to imprisonment for five years following a successful Crown appeal against the imposition of a suspended sentence.
  23. None of these cases concerning parliamentarians (including Ministers) establish some form of range of sentences relevant to this case. They involve different offences with different maximum penalties and, with one exception, concern different jurisdictions. Nevertheless, despite their differences a number of common propositions emerge.
  24. First, with the exception of Rouse, all these cases emphasise the onerous duty imposed on either parliamentarians or Ministers and the strictness which departures from that duty will be dealt with (Jackson at 436 per Lee J with whom Finlay J agreed; Nuttall at [49] per Muir JA with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Bruneau at [25] per McLennan JA).
  25. Second, while in some of the cases issues such as whether loss or damage was occasioned by the offending or a profit was made were relevant, in all the cases the Courts emphasised that the real damage caused by the offending conduct was to the institutions of government and public confidence in them (Jackson at 435 per Lee J with whom Finlay J agreed; Nuttall at [52] per Muir JA with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Rouse BC900030 at 8 per Cox J with whom Underwood and Wright JJ agreed; Field at [44] per Hansen J; Bruneau at [25] per McLennan JA).
  26. Third, in each case the necessity for the sentence to reflect considerations of general deterrence and denunciation predominated over other sentencing considerations (Jackson at 436 per Lee J with whom Finlay J agreed; Nuttall at [73] with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Rouse BC900030 at 9 per Cox J with whom Underwood and Wright JJ agreed; Field at [45] per Hansen J; Bruneau at [26] per McLennan JA).
  27. Fourth, in each case the prior good character of the offender was afforded less weight in the sentencing process than it would for other offences (Jackson at 436 per Lee J with whom Finlay JA agree; Nuttall at [58] per Muir JA with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Rouse BC900030 at 9 per Cox J with whom Underwood and Wright JJ agreed; Field at [85] per Hansen J; Bruneau at [25] per McLennan JA).
  28. All of these propositions are apposite to Mr Obeid’s case.
  29. At this point it is appropriate to address the competing submissions concerning the relative seriousness of Mr Obeid’s offending. I have already described Mr Obeid’s conduct and the state of mind that accompanied it. It is to be remembered that his offending conduct comprised a single phone call to Mr Dunn, although it was accompanied by follow up calls. As was submitted on behalf of Mr Obeid, he did not expressly advocate any outcome to Mr Dunn although the effect of his intervention was that the position Mr Scanlan was advocating should be strongly considered. Further, in the end result Mr Obeid’s intervention did not cause a change in the CLP. Relying on these and other matters it was submitted on behalf of Mr Obeid that his offending was “at the very bottom of the scale of objective seriousness for an offence of its kind.”[119] I disagree. For the reasons I have just explained, what must be at the forefront of any consideration of seriousness is the nature of the duty owed by Mr Obeid as a parliamentarian and the extent of the departure from that duty. The onerous nature of the former has been addressed. The relatively limited nature of Mr Obeid’s intervention in the process of renewing CQR’s leases bears on the latter but so does the finding of the jury that Mr Obeid intervened solely to benefit CQR, and through it, himself or his family.
  30. It can be accepted that Mr Obeid’s conduct was in the middle to lower end of the range of corrupt conduct by a parliamentarian that may amount to the crime of wilful misconduct in public office. However, that is not the proper inquiry. Instead, the relevant assessment is that, in the range of misconduct that might be engaged in by public officials which can constitute the offence of wilful misconduct in public office, Mr Obeid’s conduct was a very serious example of the offence because of the onerous nature of the duty owed by him as a parliamentarian compared to other such officials and the extent of his departure from it.

Mr Obeid’s Subjective Case

  1. The report of Dr Lennings referred to earlier also recounted aspects of Mr Obeid’s personal history. Unlike his account of the offence this was not controversial and was generally consistent with the other material that was tendered. Dr Lennings’ report reveals the following. Mr Obeid was born in Lebanon in 1943. He migrated to Australia with his family when he was six years old. His father was a clothes salesman but tragically died when Mr Obeid was nine years old.[120] After experiencing financial hardship, Mr Obeid and other members of his family returned to Lebanon in 1956 where he completed his schooling.[121] He returned to Australia six years later. He married his wife Judith in 1965. He and his wife had ten children over the next decade. One has since passed away. Mr Obeid studied commerce part time while working in a glass factory. He worked in an accounting firm and then with a building company.[122] Mr Obeid achieved financial success from a printing and newspaper business which he sold in 1986, as well from property development.[123] As already noted, in 1991 he was elected to Parliament as a Member of the Legislative Council and he retired in 2011 having been a Minister for four years from 1999.
  2. Prior to his election to Parliament Mr Obeid achieved a prominent position in the Lebanese and wider community. During the 1980s he served on the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was a part time Commissioner of the Ethnic Affairs Commission, served on the Board of Governors of the Law Foundation of New South Wales and was Vice President of the Ethnic Press Association of Australia.[124] In 1990 he led a delegation to Iraq which secured the release of some hostages held by the Iraqi regime just prior to the first Gulf War.[125]
  3. There was tendered at the sentence hearing a number of testimonial statements concerning the significant support that Mr Obeid has provided to his Church and the work it performs, [126] including from his parish priest[127] and Archbishop.[128] A similar letter of support was provided by the President of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council of Australia.[129]
  4. A number of other testimonials referred to his work for other community organisations as well as various acts of kindness he has performed for persons and organisations in need over the years. This included his support for various charities in Australian and Lebanon,[130] support for sporting clubs,[131] his funding of the rebuilding of a church in Lebanon,[132] assisting a neighbour who was the subject of a home invasion,[133] providing support for Lebanese community organisations[134] and his efforts to assist Lebanese refugees seeking to resettle in Australia.[135] Numerous friends and acquaintances of Mr Obeid testify to his generous nature and the position of leadership in the community that he occupied.[136]
  5. This material, and the absence of any prior convictions, means that Mr Obeid is to be considered of prior good character and that is a mitigating factor in sentencing (Sentencing Act; s 21A(3)(f)). However, consistent with what I have already observed (at [82]), in cases of corruption including wilful misconduct in public office where the need for general deterrence is especially strong, prior good character is to be afforded less weight than it otherwise would (R v Rivkin (2004) 59 NSWLR 284; [2004] NSWCCA 7 at [410] and R v Williams [2005] NSWSC 315; (2005) 152 A Crim R 548, at [60] per Wood CJ at CL; Blackstock at [67] per Campbell J with whom Macfarlan JA and Barr AJ agreed).

Family

  1. Mr Obeid has been married for over 50 years. He has nine children and 33 grandchildren. Many members of his family provided testamentary material in support of Mr Obeid, including three of his grandchildren,[137] various nieces and nephews,[138] some of his sons and daughters in law,[139] and some of his children.[140] They all referred to Mr Obeid’s devotion to his family and his support for them. While this material undoubtedly arouses sympathy, it is of no real assistance to Mr Obeid. There is no doubt that the members of Mr Obeid’s family are exceptionally close. However, it was Mr Obeid’s actions in prioritising the interests of his family over his obligation to the public that led to his offending in the first place. A parliamentarian cannot use their position to afford generosity to their family or associates in any form.
  2. A number of the testimonials from family members also referred to the effect on them of the adverse publicity that Mr Obeid has received over the years and their distress at the prospect that he may be incarcerated. For example, one of Mr Obeid’s grandsons recounted having to defend his grandfather in the schoolyard and the classroom.[141] Dr Lennings also interviewed Judith Obeid and his report confirms the severe distress that she has suffered from the adverse publicity her husband has attracted and the prospect that he may be incarcerated.[142] At the sentencing hearing a statement from Judith Obeid was tendered. In that statement Mrs Obeid describes her long and successful marriage. She states how hard her husband has worked for their family and how supportive he has been towards her.
  3. Clearly, Mrs Obeid’s family is her life. I accept that any decision to incarcerate Mr Obeid will cause significant distress to Judith Obeid. Dr Lennings opines that in turn Mr Obeid will be distressed by his wife’s suffering.[143] This too can be accepted. I address below the relevance of the impact of adverse publicity. Leaving that aside, the occasioning of hardship to the family of an offender from their imprisonment is only taken into account, at least in a substantial way, in “exceptional circumstances” (see Hay v R [2013] NSWCCA 22 at [49]). The hardship that would be occasioned to Mr Obeid’s family, including Judith Obeid, if he was imprisoned does not meet that description. Otherwise, it can be accepted that Mr Obeid’s reaction to the harm that his own conduct has caused to his family can be considered in the synthesis of the various factors affecting the determination of the appropriate sentence.

Media Reporting

  1. The written submissions lodged on behalf of Mr Obeid contend that he has suffered a form of extra curial punishment from extensive media coverage which, it was submitted, had humiliated him and, as noted, affected members of his family. [144] In support of that submission there was tendered at the sentence hearing two volumes of press clippings concerning Mr Obeid’s trial, which included online reports.[145] All the reports published prior to the jury’s verdict reported on the trial in a manner consistent with the media’s obligations. The reports published after the verdict concern such matters as Mr Obeid’s career, commentary on the verdict, coverage of civil proceedings initiated by Mr Obeid, the adjournments of the sentence hearing, a proposal floated by senior politicians to seek legislative change to remove Mr Obeid’s right to a parliamentary pension[146] and some unsolicited advice to the Court on the appropriate sentence. Some of the reporting on the jury’s verdict and its aftermath was somewhat unrestrained (eg “Obeid a disgrace”,[147] “…Fast Eddie, the Labor godfather”[148] and “The Cancer that ate Labor”)[149]. However, generally all the reports were concerned with the subject matter of corruption and politics, which is selfevidently a topic of legitimate public debate.
  2. A recent example whereby a sentence was mitigated on account of extensive publicity was R v Wran [2016] NSWSC 1015 (“Wran”), where articles were published that made allegations about the offender’s “criminality, sexual conduct and reputation that [had] no basis in fact but from which she [had] no ability to defend herself” (at [76]). It was also found in Wran that material that was published represented a gross invasion of the offender’s privacy in that her “private correspondence [had] been extracted for prurient consumption” and transcripts of her telephone conversations with her mother were made available to the public (Wran at [76]). In those circumstances, Harrison J concluded that the sentence imposed should take account of these publications as they increased “the risk of custodial retribution”, damaged the offender’s reputation and impeded her “recovery from her ongoing mental health and drug related problems” (Wran at [79]).
  3. Wran is an example of a case where extra curial punishment was occasioned by the publication of humiliating material obtained as a result of criminal charges being laid that was either unrelated to the offending in question or where the level of publicity for the material was disproportionate to any relevance it had to the offence in question. The offender in Wran was not a public figure and her offending did not involve the abuse of any public position.
  4. In this case the offender is a public figure, the offending did involve the abuse of a public position and the media reports that have been tendered do not sensationalise facts that are either irrelevant or trivial to the offending conduct. Instead, they are concerned with an issue of public importance, namely, political corruption. In those circumstances it seems incongruous that the consequential public humiliation should mitigate the sentence. Nevertheless, there is a body of authority to suggest that it can. In Ryan v The Queen [2001] HCA 21; (2001) 206 CLR 267 (“Ryan”) at [177], Callinan J observed that “the crime of a person occupying an office of some prominence will often attract much greater vilification, adverse publicity, public humiliation, and personal, social and family stress than a crime by a person not so circumstanced” and that those consequences “should not be ignored by the sentencing court”. Kirby J stated a similar view (at [123]) but McHugh J was of the contrary opinion (at [53]).
  5. This difference of opinion was adverted to by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Kenny v R [2010] NSWCCA 6 (“Kenny”) at [18] to [22] per Basten JA and Einfeld v R [2010] NSWCCA 87 (“Einfeld”) at [99] per Basten JA. In the end result, the principle binding this Court at first instance appears to be that such publicity will only be considered where “it reaches such proportion as to have a physical or psychological effect on the offender” (Duncan v R [2012] NSWCCA 78 at [28] per Basten JA citing Kenny at [49] per Howie J; see also Nuttall at [65]). At first instance, in Einfeld the relevant publicity was found to have that effect (R v Einfeld [2009] NSWSC 119 at [161] per James J).
  6. Dr Lennings’ report describes Mr Obeid as stating that his reputation has been destroyed,[150] but neither it nor the testimonial material describes the adverse publicity that Mr Obeid has received, much less that which relates to this case, as having had any direct physical or psychological effect on him. Instead, it has had an effect on his family. It follows that it is only in the relatively limited sense that Mr Obeid is affected by their suffering from the consequences of his offending that this can be considered.
  7. It was also submitted that the potential loss of Mr Obeid’s parliamentary pension can be taken into account. The loss of financial benefits such as superannuation can be considered in determining sentence (Ryan at [54] per McHugh J). Accordingly, I can and will afford this some weight but not much given that the only evidence suggesting this may occur are the press reports to which I have referred.

Medical Conditions

  1. A number of medical reports concerning Mr Obeid were tendered at the sentencing hearing. Those reports reveal that Mr Obeid underwent bypass surgery in 1995 and 2005 and had arterial stenting procedures in 1999 and again in 2015 following an episode of chest pain and breathlessness.[151] Mr Obeid has suffered from type 2 diabetes for years. He must ingest insulin with his meals and receives a longacting insulin injection daily.[152] According to his treating endocrinologist, Dr Kean, he “self manage[s] his diabetes currently without difficulty”.[153] Otherwise, Mr Obeid suffers from raised cholesterol, high blood pressure and colonic polyps that require periodic colonoscopies.[154] He has previously suffered from GuillainBarre Syndrome, which is a rapid-onset of muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system. It is presently stable.[155] Further, a thoracic physician reports that scans show that Mr Obeid has “asbestos related pulmonary disease” and bronchiectasis.[156]
  2. On 3 August 2016, Mr Obeid tripped at home and fell onto a coffee table which collapsed under him. He was taken to a hospital on the North shore of Sydney but discharged. The next day he attended his general practitioner, Dr Lahood, who commissioned an MRI scan and had him admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital.[157] He came under the care of Dr John O’Neill who concluded that he had suffered a mild stroke caused by an embolism and prescribed blood thinning medication.[158]
  3. Mr Obeid was referred to Dr David Rosen a consultant neurologist who examined him and reviewed his condition in light of the totality of the available material concerning all of his various medical conditions. He concluded that Mr Obeid has “ongoing post stroke symptoms and impairments that affect mainly his gait and balance”. He considered that there was some “permanent albeit relatively mild damage … to the right side of the brain” as seen on an MRI scan.[159] Dr Rosen estimated that Mr Obeid had a risk of a recurrent stroke from any cause “in the region of 5% per year.”[160]
  4. The Crown arranged for Mr Obeid to be reviewed by a consultant geriatrician and physician, Dr Tuly Rosenfeld. Dr Rosenfeld’s assessment of Mr Obeid’s neurological status was not relevantly different to that of Dr Rosen.[161] Dr Rosenfeld detected “[m]ild cognitive impairment”.[162]
  5. Overall, Dr Rosenfeld concluded that the various medical conditions from which Mr Obeid suffers are “stable and controlled” and there “is no clearly foreseeable expectation in the short to midterm that specific interventions will be required”. However, he accepts that there is a “need for regular monitoring and review, adjustment of specific therapies from time to time, blood investigations, diabetic dietary measures, physical therapy and exercise”.[163] Dr Rosen’s description of the type of care required by Mr Obeid is not relevantly different in that he considers that Mr Obeid “ideally” requires a “well coordinated management plan” that “takes into consideration each of Mr Obeid’s medical conditions” and medicinal requirements.[164]
  6. Two interrelated issues of fact were raised by the material concerning Mr Obeid’s medical condition, namely, the likely standard of care that he can expect to receive if he is incarcerated and his likely life expectancy if he is incarcerated compared with his life expectancy if he serves a sentence in the community.
  7. The Crown tendered a number of reports from “Justice Health”[165] being a statutory health corporation the functions of which include the provision of health services to offenders and persons in custody (Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW); s 236A). These reports address the various conditions affecting Mr Obeid and describe the medical services that will be available to him to address them if he is incarcerated. The reports state that Justice Health’s services include 24hour nursing in some metropolitan centres, regular medical officer and nursing clinics, a physiotherapy service at the major metropolitan correctional centres, a medical subacute unit within the Long Bay hospital, an aged care rehabilitation unit at Long Bay hospital and access to specialists at the Prince of Wales Hospital. [166] The reports indicate that, if Mr Obeid is incarcerated, Justice Health will request that he be accommodated in the metropolitan area at a facility that has full time nursing care and nearby access to specialists and emergency departments.[167]
  8. Dr Rosen considered it was unlikely that Mr Obeid would receive appropriate medical treatment in custody if he was incarcerated. He considered that there were “difficulties” with “managing chronic diseases with access to appropriate and timely care in the prison system”.[168] Dr Rosenfeld disagreed. He was formerly the Director of Geriatric Medicine and Senior Specialist in Geriatric Medicine at Prince of Wales Hospital which, as noted, interacts with Justice Health. Based on his knowledge of Justice Health, which he accepts has limitations, Dr Rosenfeld considers it “likely that Mr Obeid would be able to access appropriate and effective care within the Justice Health system”.[169]
  9. In his oral submissions, the Crown Prosecutor did not accept that Mr Obeid would receive a superior level of care if he remained in the community compared with what he would receive if he is incarcerated.[170] While that may be the case for some members of the population I do not accept that it is correct for Mr Obeid. As the events of August 2016 illustrate, Mr Obeid has an existing support network that includes an experienced general practitioner, a strongly supportive family and specialists familiar with his circumstances. The Crown Prosecutor’s written submissions contend that Mr Obeid’s present treatment regime is “wholly medication based”.[171] However, the nature of Mr Obeid’s ailments are such that he needs to be monitored. While there is obviously a form of supervision in custody, that is not the same as the level of family and medical support that Mr Obeid has in the community. Nevertheless, while I accept that Mr Obeid would receive a superior level of care in the community, the material tendered by the Crown on this issue at least satisfied me that he would receive an adequate level of care if he is incarcerated. As noted by Dr Rosenfeld, Mr Obeid’s present condition is “stable and controlled”.
  10. Leaving aside the possibility that he may be incarcerated, Dr Rosen and Dr Rosenfeld were in broad agreement as to Mr Obeid’s life expectancy in light of his various medical conditions. Dr Rosen estimated that it was between 76.6 years and 77.7 years[172] and Dr Rosenfeld estimated that it was 80.3 years.[173] However, Dr Rosen estimated that Mr Obeid’s life expectancy would reduce much further if he was incarcerated, specifically, by two years for every year he was in custody.[174] Dr Rosenfeld noted that this conclusion was based on a study of a cohort of New York prisoners who were released from prison after most of them committed violent or drug related crimes.[175] I do not accept that that study has any relevance to Mr Obeid’s circumstances and I do not accept Dr Rosen’s estimate of Mr Obeid’s life expectancy should he be incarcerated. Instead, I consider that it is within the range of 77 to 80 years that I have mentioned.
  11. On behalf of Mr Obeid it was submitted that his limited life expectancy was a matter that warranted grounds for leniency. It was otherwise submitted that custody would be onerous for someone of his age and with his ailments and that he would receive a far superior level of care in the community.
  12. The principles relevant to a submission that a penalty should be mitigated on account of health concerns and the relevance of the length of a sentence to a person’s life expectancy can be briefly stated as follows.
  13. First, in circumstances where illness is relevant to the determination of a sentence, its weight must be assessed in light of “all the circumstances of the case, and an appropriate balance has to be maintained between the criminality of the offender and any damage to health or shortening of life” (R v Achurch [2011] NSWCCA 186; 216 A Crim R 152, “Achurch” at [117] per Johnson J citing: R v Sopher (1993) 70 A Crim R 570 at 573; R v BJW [2000] NSWCCA 60; 112 A Crim R 1 at 6-8 [23][31]).
  14. Second, although the health of an offender is relevant to the type and length of any sanction imposed, generally it will only be a mitigating factor “when there is evidence to show that there is a serious risk that imprisonment will be a greater burden on an offender, by reason of ill health, or where there is a serious risk that imprisonment will have a grave adverse effect on the offender’s health” (R v Badanjak [2004] NSWCCA 395 at [9] per Wood CJ at CL with McClellan AJA and Smart AJ agreeing; R v Smith (1987) 44 SASR 587 at 589; Achurch at [118]).
  15. Third, the relative strictness that is applied to a consideration of whether some matter affecting the health of an offender operates as a substantial mitigating factor does not necessarily apply when such matters are considered in combination with other factors such as age in determining whether “special circumstances” are established for the purposes of s 44(2) of the Sentencing Act (see Griffiths v The Queen [1989] HCA 39; (1989) 167 CLR 372 at 379 per Brennan and Dawson JJ; R v Simpson [2001] NSWCCA 534; 53 NSWLR 704). However, double counting of matters affecting the length of the head sentence and matters that might constitute special circumstances must be avoided (R v Fidow [2004] NSWCCA 172 at [18] per Spigelman CJ (“Fidow”)).
  16. Fourth, an otherwise appropriate sentence of imprisonment should not be reduced on the basis that it is likely to extend to most of the offender’s remaining life expectancy (Goebel-McGregor v R [2006] NSWCCA 390 at [128] per James J, with whom Hidden and Hislop JJ agreed; Barton v R [2009] NSWCCA 164 at [22]).
  17. I have described the ailments affecting Mr Obeid and his treatment regime. They are not unusual for a person of his age. I accept that they may make any time he serves in custody more difficult and that it is unlikely that he would receive the same standard of care that he would receive in the community, although it will nevertheless be an adequate standard. However, I do not accept that the combination of his age, health and reduced life expectancy is a matter of any real significance to a determination of whether he should be incarcerated or not. If he is to be incarcerated those matters can be taken into account in the mix of factors relevant to a determination of the appropriate length of the sentence but not to any significant degree. I also accept that his age and health might, with other factors, constitute special circumstances, however as just stated they cannot be taken into account as both mitigating any head sentence and determining the existence of special circumstances (Fidow).

Delay

  1. On behalf of Mr Obeid, it was submitted that there was a significant delay on the part of the prosecuting authorities in commencing the prosecution in that the offence was committed in 2007, when Mr Obeid was 63, yet proceedings were only commenced against him in November 2014. It is an agreed fact that the relevant hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“ICAC”) into this matter commenced in October 2013, that the ICAC report was published in June 2014 and a brief of material was provided to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions during September and October 2014.
  2. This history does not indicate any undue delay between the commencement of the ICAC hearing and the commencement of the proceedings. In relation to the period between the commission of the offence in 2007 and the commencement of the ICAC hearing, there is nothing to indicate that any relevant investigative or prosecutorial body was on notice of the commission of an offence during that period. Corrupt conduct is notoriously difficult to detect, much less prosecute.
  3. The delay between the commission of an offence and the imposition of a sentence is potentially relevant in three respects. The first is that the “uncertain suspense in which a person may be left” for an extended period can be taken into account (Blanco v R [1999] NSWCCA 121 (“Blanco”) at [16]). In circumstances where it has not been shown that any relevant investigative or prosecutorial body was on notice of Mr Obeid’s conduct and delayed taking action, I do not accept that this aspect of delay has any relevance to his sentencing (cf Coles v R [2016] NSWCCA 32 at [17]). The second is that an offender may demonstrate progress towards rehabilitation in the intervening period (Blanco at [16]). Mr Obeid will be sentenced on the basis that there is no prospect of him offending again. The third is that a “sentence for a stale crime does call for a measure of understanding and flexibility of approach” (Blanco id). I do not accept that Mr Obeid’s offence is a “stale crime”.

Other Sentencing Factors

  1. Section 21A(2) of the Sentencing Act lists a series of aggravating factors the Court is to take into account in determining the appropriate sentence. These factors cannot be considered as aggravating the offence if they are elements of the offence. Section 21A(3) lists a series of mitigating factors.
  2. The only specific aggravating factor pointed to by the Crown is that the “the offence was committed for financial gain” (Sentencing Act, s 21A(2)(o)).[176] I have already explained the effect of the jury’s verdict in that respect and this has formed part of the assessment of the level of criminality involved in the commission of the offence. It cannot be considered as a further aggravating factor at this point.
  3. On behalf of Mr Obeid it was submitted that eight mitigating factors were established.[177] The first was that “the injury, emotional harm, loss or damage caused by the offence was not substantial” (s 21A(3)(a)). I have accepted that Mr Obeid’s representations to Mr Dunn had no effect on the ultimate decision to offer CQR new leases. In that respect, no loss or damage was occasioned. However, as I have explained, the crime of wilful misconduct in public office necessarily involves a violation of a public trust. When that involves a parliamentarian, damage is caused to the institutions of government, specifically Parliament.
  4. The second mitigating factor submitted on behalf of Mr Obeid was that the offence was not part of a planned or organised criminal activity (s 21A(3)(b)). I do not accept that this mitigating factor has been established. While the Crown did not prove that Mr Obeid had been planning to intervene in the lease renewal process for some time, it was not positively established that his actions were spontaneous.
  5. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth mitigating factors suggested on behalf of Mr Obeid were that the offender does not have any record (or any significant record) of previous convictions (s 21A(3)(e)), that the offender was a person of good character (s 21A(3)(f)), that the offender is unlikely to re-offend (s 21A(2)(g)) and that the offender has good prospects of rehabilitation, whether by reason of the offender’s age or otherwise (s 21A(3)(h). All these factors are established.
  6. The seventh mitigating factor is that remorse has been shown by the offender for the offence. Section 21A(3)(i) of the Sentencing Act provides that the remorse of an offender is a mitigating factor, but only if the offender has provided “evidence that he or she has accepted responsibility for his or her actions” (sub-s(i)) and “has acknowledged any injury, loss or damage caused by his or her actions or made reparation for such injury, loss or damage” (subs (ii)). Mr Obeid has done neither.
  7. The eighth and last mitigating factor relied on by Mr Obeid, was that he provided assistance to law enforcement authorities (s 21A(3)(m)). The written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid referred to the cooperative and efficient manner in which the trial was conducted and contended that this amounted to “assistance provided to law enforcement authorities …. in proceedings relating to, the offence concerned” as referred to in s 23 of the Sentencing Act. This aspect of s 23 is directed to persons who give evidence or assistance to the prosecution or volunteer additional information concerning their own conduct and not to the cooperation by an accused in the conduct of their own trial as occurred here. However, the conduct of the trial by an accused can still be considered. Section 21A(3)(l) provides that the degree of pre-trial disclosure by the defence is a mitigating factor in sentencing. Section 22A(1) expands upon this by enabling a court to impose a lesser penalty than would otherwise be the case having regard to the degree to which the administration of justice has been facilitated by an offender’s defence, including by disclosures made prior to or during the trial. Any such lesser penalty must not be disproportionate to the nature and circumstances of the offence (s 22A(2)).
  8. I accept that the manner in which the trial was conducted by and on behalf of Mr Obeid warrants some leniency on this account. The cross examination of the Crown witnesses was concise. There were a number of admissions made and agreements reached over the contents of exhibits which shortened the length of the trial and made the identification of the real issues that the jury had to determine that much easier.

Conclusion

  1. Courts do not determine sentences by consulting opinion polls or surveying the views of the political commentariat. Instead, they undertake an objective assessment of the nature of the offending, determine the personal circumstances of the offender and then apply principles derived from statute and case law.
  2. To that end, I have described the conduct of Mr Obeid that constituted the crime of wilful misconduct in public office. As noted, even though it was effectively constituted by a single telephone call, his conduct was a very serious example of that offence given the nature of the duty owed by him as a parliamentarian and the extent of his departure from that duty. I have also canvassed the other considerations relevant to sentencing and in doing so described Mr Obeid’s career and personal circumstances. If Mr Obeid had not wilfully abused his position as a parliamentarian then his life and career would be a testament to the values of hard work, family and public service. Instead, his time in public life has produced a very different legacy.
  3. Section 3A of the Sentencing Act specifies the purposes of sentencing. These include specifically deterring the offender from committing similar offences (s 3A(b)), protecting the community from the offender (s 3A(c)) and promoting the rehabilitation of the offender (s 3A(d)). In Mr Obeid’s case there is no prospect of him committing any further offence and the community does not now need any protection from him.
  4. Section 3A also specifies that the purposes of sentencing include ensuring the offender is adequately punished for the offence (s 3A(a)), making the offender accountable for their actions (s 3A(e)), denouncing the conduct of the offender (s 3A(f)), recognising the harm done to the community by the offence (s 3A(g)) and deterring others from committing similar offences (s 3A(b)).
  5. The overwhelming majority of parliamentarians are not motivated by an intention to enrich themselves or their families. Instead, they act in what they believe to be the best interests of the electorate, cognisant that the most likely reward for their service is persistent criticism and ultimately electoral rejection. The continuity and relative strength of our parliamentary democracy is a product of their efforts and the maintenance of public confidence in their honesty. All the work of parliamentarians can be destroyed by the wilful misconduct of only some of their members. Corruption by elected representatives consumes democracies. It destroys public confidence in democratic institutions. It opens up consideration of alternative modes of government, especially those that offer an illusion of security and order.
  6. It follows that the need for general deterrence, denunciation and recognition of the harm done to the community are the dominant considerations in determining the appropriate sentence for a parliamentarian convicted of wilful misconduct in public office in these circumstances. Given the nature of the offending and notwithstanding Mr Obeid’s personal circumstances, I am satisfied that, having considered all possible alternatives, no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate (Sentencing Act; s 5(1). I have also determined that such a sentence must be one that is served by full time imprisonment for a period that exceeds the length of the sentence that would otherwise enable consideration of the possibility of home detention or the imposition of an intensive correction order (Sentencing Act; s 6(1) and 7(1)). However, as adverted to (at [119]), the combination of Mr Obeid’s health and age justifies a finding of special circumstances and a variation of the maximum ratio between the balance of term and the nonparole period referred to in s 44(2) of the Sentencing Act.
  7. Edward Moses Obeid, I note that you have already been convicted of wilful misconduct in public office. You are now sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 5 years.
  8. Pursuant to s 44(1) and s 44(2) of the Sentencing Act and in light of the finding of special circumstances, I set a non-parole period of 3 years commencing on 15 December 2016, and an additional term of 2 years commencing on 15 December 2019 and ending on 14 December 2021.
  9. The sentence will be taken to have commenced on 15 December 2016. The offender will be eligible for release on parole on 15 December 2019 and the sentence will expire on 14 December 2021.

**********


[1] [1951] HCA 5; 83 CLR 1 (the “Communist Party Case”)
[2] At p 187
[3] Ex A, p 7 at [1]
[4] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [20]
[5] Ex A, p 7 at [1]
[6] Ex A, p 7 at [3] to [5]
[7] Ex A, p 127
[8] Ex A, pp 1 to 3
[9] Ex A, pp 37 to 38
[10] T 07/06/16 at 57.5
[11] T 07/07/16 at 101.45
[12] Ex A, pp 85 and 92
[13] Ex A, p 7 at [6]
[14] Ex A, p 7 at [6]
[15] Ex A, pp 24 and 35
[16] T 07/06/2016 at 102.41, 104.29, 109.4 and 110
[17] T 07/06/16 at 108.32
[18] T 07/06/2016 at 108
[19] T 08/06/2016 at 133.42
[20] T 07/06/16 at 100; T 08/06/16 at 133.11
[21] T 07/06/16 at 111
[22] T 08/06/16 at 139.21
[23] T 07/06/16 at 114.44
[24] T 08/06/16 at 134 to 135, esp 135.15
[25] T 08/06/16 at 134.40
[26] Ex C
[27] Ex A, pp 46a and 46c; Ex D
[28] Ex A, pp 48a and 48d
[29] T 14/06/16 at 360
[30] Summing up (“SU”), p 14
[31] T 15/06/16 at 432.49
[32] T 14/06/16 at 368.31 and 372
[33] T 14/06/16 at 373.15
[34] T 15/06/16 at 428.7
[35] T 14/06/16 at 372.47
[36] T 15/06/16 at 426.1
[37] T 15/06/16 at 427.40
[38] T 08/06/16 at 136.6 to 137
[39] T 08/06/16 at 139.37
[40] T 08/06/16 at 152:21
[41] Ex A, p 99
[42] Ex A, p 100
[43] T 15/06/16 at 439
[44] Ex A, p 104
[45] Ex A, pp 206 to 207
[46] T 15/06/16 at 449.20
[47] T 15/06/16 at 449.41
[48] T 09/6/2016 at 202.47 and 249.30
[49] T 09/06/16 at 254.38
[50] T 16/06/16 at 524.21
[51] T 16/06/16 at 529.37
[52] Ex A, p 223 and 249
[53] Ex A, p 240, clause 4.5
[54] Ex A, p 250
[55] Ex A, p 251
[56] T 17/06/16 at 574.13 and 574.39
[57] T 17/06/16 at 575.31
[58] T 17/06/16 at 575.20
[59] T 17/06/16 at 582
[60] T 17/06/16 at 583.25
[61] T 17/06/16 at 583.34
[62] T 20/06/16 at 627.15
[63] T 20/06/16 at 631 to 632
[64] T 17/06/16 at 583
[65] T 17/06/16 at 583.50
[66] Ex A, pp 15 to 17
[67] Ex A, p 10 at [40]; T 17/06/16 at 618.1
[68] T 17/06/16 at 594.13
[69] T 17/06/16 at 601.36
[70] T 17/06/16 at 617.29
[71] Ex A, p 9
[72] T 17/06/16 at 552.16
[73] T 17/06/16 at 599.28
[74] T 16/06/16 at 533.30
[75] T 17/06/16 at 616.33
[76] T 16/06/16 at 533.31; T 16/06/16 at 536.21; T 17/06/16 at 616.35
[77] Ex A, p 262
[78] Ex A, p 265, clause 4.5
[79] Ex A, p 261
[80] Ex A, pp 268 and 274
[81] Ex A, p 290
[82] Ex A, p 295
[83] T 08/06/16 at 129.40 and 168.27
[84] T 21/06/2016 at 711.44
[85] MFI 16
[86] SU, p 19
[87] SU, p 21
[88] SU, pp 25 to 26; MFI 16
[89] T 06/06/16 at 2
[90] SU, pp 26 to 27
[91] SU, p 41
[92] T 21/06/16 at 719.10
[93] T 20/06/16 at 651.5
[94] Ex A, p 8 at [15]
[95] see SU, p 60
[96] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [19] and [73]
[97] SU, p 62
[98] SU, p 61
[99] SU, p 61
[100] MFI 16; SU, p 63
[101] SU, p 64
[102] SU, p 65
[103] SU, pp 26 and 67
[104] SU, p 72
[105] SU, p 72
[106] T 20/06/16 at 629.4
[107] T 20/06/16 at 631 to 632
[108] T 20/06/16 at 633.37 to 41
[109] T 20/06/16 at 632 to 633
[110] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [61]
[111] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [24]
[112] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [65]
[113] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [13] to [15]
[114] T 17/06/16 at 584.42
[115] T 17/06/16 at 585.13
[116] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1
[117] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [7]
[118] Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (NSW) and the Police Integrity Commission Act 1996.
[119] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [13]
[120] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [13]
[121] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [16]
[122] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [18]
[123] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [19]
[124] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 28
[125] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 17 and 22
[126] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 27 and 37
[127] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 16
[128] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 42
[129] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 47
[130] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 11, 18, 23, 39
[131] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 11, 13 and 48
[132] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 19
[133] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 9
[134] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 31, 49, 50 and 52
[135] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 20 and 36
[136] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 30, 35, 37, 38, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 51
[137] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 8, 10 and 26
[138] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 14
[139] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 24, 33 and 29
[140] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 34 and 21
[141] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 8
[142] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [33]
[143] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [32]
[144] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [92ff]
[145] Ex 1 on sentence
[146] Ex 1 on sentence, pp 223 to 225, 511 and 609
[147] Ex 1 on sentence, p 166
[148] Ex 1 on sentence, p 134
[149] Ex 1 on sentence, p 176
[150] At [31]
[151] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 5; Ex 2 on sentence, tab 4
[152] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 6
[153] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 6
[154] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, at 10; Ex 2, tab 5
[155] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 10
[156] Ex A on sentence, tab 7
[157] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 3
[158] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 6.10
[159] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 17.2
[160] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 18.1
[161] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, pp 7 and 9
[162] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 9.5
[163] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 10.8
[164] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 19.9
[165] Ex A on sentence at tabs 2 to 6
[166] Ex A on sentence at tab 6
[167] Ex A on sentence at tab 4
[168] Ex 2 at tab 2, p 19.6
[169] Ex A at tab 2, p 12
[170] T 01/12/2016 at 11.35
[171] At [56]
[172] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 18.10
[173] Ex A on sentence, tab 2, p 12.5
[174] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 19.1
[175] Ex A on sentence, tab 2, p 13
[176] Crown Submissions on Sentence at [39]
[177] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [111]


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Sydney crime figure Pasquale Barbaro shot dead, Joe Antoun’s death caught on video


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Nine people have been charged following the bloody execution of crime figure Pasquale Barbaro, after a series of police raids in Sydney.

Tuesday’s co-ordinated sting unfolded just after midday when heavily armed officers raided more than a dozen properties including four at Sydney’s Olympic Park.

A total of 13 search warrants were executed and nine men aged from 18-29 were charged.

“All those charged with substantive murder were charged in relation to Pasquale Barbaro,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Barbaro was left for dead on a Sydney pavement. Image: Instagram
Nine people have now been charged over the 35-year-old’s death. Image: 7 News
Photo: NSW Police

Barbaro, 35, was shot dead on an Earlwood footpath two weeks ago.

Four of the nine men are facing murder charges and will appear in Sydney courts on Wednesday.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione launched Strike Force Osprey less than two weeks ago after a spate of bloody executions of notorious crime figures on Sydney’s streets.

“There is no end game. We will continue to target these individuals through methodical investigations and disruption strategies. There will be ongoing arrests. We will be protecting the State of NSW. We will be not tolerating any individual who has a total disregard for the community of this state and its laws,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Frank Mennilli said on Wednesday.

The other five men are facing criminal group charges and have court dates for December and January.

Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police

Officers from Strike Force Osprey worked with officers from Strike Force Raptor, which was set up in November last year investigating the activities of the Burwood Chapter of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.

Both forces were involved in Tuesday’s raids.

During the raid more than 40 mobile phones, 11 cars, a safe, cash, stolen NSW Police ID was seized and will now be examined by specialist forensic accountants from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.

Police from Strike Force Raptor also seized 20 long arms, 23 hand guns, 15 prohibited weapons, including ballistic vests and masks, silencers, a stun gun, and a homemade pipe gun; ammunition, methylamphetamine, and ecstasy, police said on Wednesday.

With eight shooting deaths over the past 17 months in Sydney, police have vowed to stamp out gangland warfare.

Just weeks before Mafia figure Barbaro was shot in Earlwood as he was getting into his Mercedes on November 14, hitman Hamad Assaad, 29, was shot in Georges Hall on October 25.

Pasquale Barbaro pictured with Brothers for Life leader Farhad Qaumi. Source: 7 News
The shooting scene. Source: 7 News

In April, gangland kingpin and convicted killer Walid Ahmad, 40, was killed in a spray of bullets on the rooftop car park of Bankstown Central shopping centre.

His murder is believed to be in retaliation for the fatal shooting of Safwan Charbaji outside a Condell Park panel beater several weeks earlier.

The month before that Michael Davey was shot dead in a driveway in a drive-by shooting in Kingswood. Believed to be a member of the Rebels motorcycle gang, Davey had escaped injury during a shooting at a shopping centre the previous year.

Police hunt for gangland killer

Police forensice teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police forensics teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Pasquale Barbaro.

Pasquale Barbaro.


Who was Pasquale Barbaro?

Updated about 7 hours ago

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was a notorious Sydney crime figure and part of a family with known links to the Calabrian mafia, from Italy.

The 35-year-old’s murder last night at Earlwood in Sydney’s inner west was one of several targeted shootings in Sydney this year.

The Barbaro family is well known to police and the criminal underworld.

His grandfather, who was also named Pasquale Barbaro, was murdered in a gangland hit in Brisbane in 1990 after turning police informant.

A cousin — another Pasquale Barbaro — was murdered in a hit in Melbourne in 2003 alongside notorious crime figure Jason Moran.

His uncle, yet another Pasquale Barbaro, is currently serving a 30-year sentence over a massive ecstasy bust — the world’s biggest — discovered in Melbourne in 2007.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro — killed last night in Earlwood — survived a targeted shooting in Leichhardt in November last year.

Why was he targeted?

There are a number of theories.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was due to face the Sydney District Court in December over the production of the drug ice (crystal methamphetamine).

Crime journalist Keith Moor says there are suspicions Mr Barbaro may have been a police informant.

“The suspicion is he was probably killed for breaking the code of ‘omerta’ which is the code of silence,” Mr Moor said.

“The suggestion I’m getting is the dead Pasquale Barbaro was telling tales about the operations of the Calabrian mafia — as was his grandfather way back in the 1990’s.”

Equally, Mr Moor said the killing could be because of something unrelated to gang crime.

“He was involved in a number of criminal offences [including] drugs,” Mr Moor said.

“He’s obviously made some enemies [and there have been] attempts on his life in the past.

“It could boil down to something as simple as a domestic — there have been a number of Calabrian crime figures murdered because they’ve left their wives or slept with the wrong person,” he said.

One thing is clear according to NSW Police Superintendent David Johnson: Mr Barbaro was “clearly the intended victim” of last night’s Earlwood shooting.

Links to other shootings

There was a failed hit on Pasquale Timothy Barbaro‘s life in November last year.

Hamad Assaad, who was shot dead at his Georges Hall home just two weeks ago, was one of the major suspects in that attempted hit.

The Assaad shooting on October 25 has links to another targeted shooting in Bankstown in May.

Superintendent David Johnson said at a press conference today that police can’t comment on whether the murders are related.

“I can’t comment on the homicide investigations or strike forces as they are set up,” Mr Johnson said.

“I can’t say whether these matters are related because I don’t know the answer to that.”

The Calabrian Mafia in Australia

Crime journalist Keith Moor said the Barbaro family’s crime history stretches back decades in Australia.

“They’re going back way before the 1977 murder of Donald Mackay in Griffith,” Mr Moor said.

“The dead Barbaro from Sydney overnight… was literally born into the Calabrian mafia.

“It’s a trait that’s passed on from father to son,” he said.

Mr Moor said the Calabrian mafia is more active than people might realise in Australia.

“If anyone smoked a joint in the 60s, 70s, 80s — and lets face it a lot of people did — they were lining the pockets of the Calabrian mafia,” he said.

“They gradually got into the heroin trade… then they expanded to ecstasy.

“They basically recognised what the next big thing was in the drug market.”


Police found the man, 35-year-old Pasquale Barbaro, on an Earlwood footpath after being alerted to a shooting at about 9.40pm on Monday.

And a grey Audi Q7 found burned out in Sydney’s inner west could be the getaway car used in the execution-style shooting of a man linked to Sydney’s criminal underworld, say police.

Execution of standover man filmed

Meanwhile, the front door execution in 2013 of standover man Joe Antoun, a known associate of underworld figure George Alex, was captured on CCTV and played for a Sydney courtroom today – hours after Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down outside Alex’s home.

Mr Antoun was gunned down on the doorstep of his Strathfield home in Sydney’s inner west on December 16, 2013, in a contract killing allegedly arranged by Brothers 4 Life boss Farhad Quami and his brother Mumtaz.

Farhad, 34, and Mumtaz Quami, 31, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Antoun, who worked as a debt collector.

In their trial, CCTV footage was played showing a hooded figure waiting for several minutes before pulling out a handgun and firing several times.

The Daily Telegraph reported Crown Prosecutor Ken McKay SC told their NSW Supreme Court trial before a judge alone Antoun was at home with his wife when a camera showed a man at their front door.

“(Mr Antoun’s wife) went to a window and looked out and saw a person and called out to that person, asking who it was. The person she heard say, ‘It’s Adam. I’ve got a package for Joe’,” Mr McKay said.

“At about this time, Joseph Antoun opened the front door. There was a wire security door which was still closed. As he opened the door, Mr Antoun was shot a number of times and died in his house, it seems very quickly after being.”

The court heard, according to The Daily Telegraph, that before Antoun’s death his former business partner Elias “Les” Elias had agreed to purchase Mimtaz Qaumi’s Erina Kebab House for $190,000.

Mr Elias is in the Philippines, according to a police witness, and declined to provide a statement for the trial.

The confronting CCTV footage was shown hours after Barbaro’s execution this morning outside Mr Alex’s Earlwood home.

CCTV of Joe Antoun shot at his Strathfield home

Police investigation

NSW Police believe it could be linked to the killing of Mr Barbaro. “That vehicle has been towed for forensic examination,” Superintendent David Johnson told reporters.

Supt Johsonn said the victim, who had been visiting someone in the street, had been “shot a number of times”.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward so homicide investigators can piece together a chain of events that includes the Audi. Supt Johnson acknowledges some of the victim’s associates might not be keen to contact police.

“Given the sort of nefarious activities these people are engaged in, clearly it is in their best interests to come forward and speak to police,” he added. “These people [the shooters] are dangerous people.”

‘Targeted attack’

Early investigations suggest it was a targeted attack and Larkhall Street was cordoned off today as forensic teams examined the area.

Barbaro’s grandfather and cousin were both killed in gangland hits and there had been unconfirmed rumours Pasquale Barbaro was an informant for the NSW Crime Commission.

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his coulsin Pat Barbaro

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his cousin Pat Barbaro

Gabriela Pintos lives at the end of street and said she heard gunshots late at night.

“We heard the gunshots … another maybe four gunshots and a couple of minutes later there was someone screaming,” she told AAP.

Another resident told AAP he heard as a many as seven really loud bangs in two bursts and saw a car speed away.

“You knew straight away what it was … I looked out the front and saw a car speed off,” the man, who wanted to be identified as John, said. Witnesses also reported seeing a car with three or four men wearing hoodies parked nearby ahead of the shooting.

He ‘may have broken the mafia code’

Barbaro may have been gunned down in Sydney because he was talking to the authorities, according to a journalist who’s written a book on the Barbaro family.

Journalist Keith Moor says the latest Pasquale Barbaro to die might have been killed for the same reason his grandfather was – he may have been “telling tales outside of school and breaking the code”.

“There could be other motives but that is a line of inquiry the homicide squad in Sydney will be pursuing,” the author of Busted told ABC TV.

Moor believes Monday night’s shooting could be difficult to solve because traditionally the Calabrian mafia are reluctant to talk to authorities. “I’m presuming that none of the Barbaro family will be willing to help police,” he said.

“They’ll probably do their own investigation into what happened.” The journalist said the problem for police trying to crack down on the Barbaros was that, as soon as one was knocked down, another seemed to pop up. “That’s been going on for generations,” he said.

Asaad shooting

The death comes two weeks after another crime figure, Hamad Assaad, was shot dead outside his Georges Hall home.

Mr Assaad was a key suspect in the execution of standover man Walid Ahmad at a Bankstown shopping centre in April.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

That killing was thought to be in retaliation for the shooting homicide of Safwan Charbaji outside a nearby panel beater two weeks earlier. Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down in Brisbane in 1990 while his cousin Pat Barbaro was shot dead in a car park in Melbourne in 2003.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Another cousin, also called Pasquale, was involved in what was described as the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Some 15 million pills were hidden inside tinned tomatoes and shipped by the Calabrian mafia from Italy to Melbourne.

– With AAP


What a turn up-Matthew Leveson’s former partner Michael Atkins helping in search for body

The partner of missing Sydney man Matthew Leveson is assisting police in a search for a body at the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, police have confirmed.

Michael Atkins, 53, has been helping police with their inquiries since Friday after being compelled to give evidence at an inquest.

Mr Leveson, 20, was last seen outside Sydney nightclub ARQ with Mr Atkins on the night he disappeared.

His body has never been found.


Matthew Leveson’s former partner Michael Atkins helping in search for body

3.16pm 10/11/16

The partner of missing Sydney man Matthew Leveson is assisting police in a search for a body at the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, police have confirmed.

Michael Atkins, 53, has been helping police with their inquiries since Friday after being compelled to give evidence at an inquest.

Mr Leveson, 20, was last seen outside Sydney nightclub ARQ with Mr Atkins on the night he disappeared.

His body has never been found.

In February 2012, a $100,000 reward was announced for information leading to the discovery of Mr Leveson’s body.

In 2009, Mr Atkins was acquitted of murdering his former partner after a trial during in which he exercised his right to silence.

This morning, he was due to resume giving evidence for a sixth day at an inquest in Sydney but the hearing was adjourned until 2:00pm.

It is believed homicide detectives have been negotiating with Mr Atkins and his lawyers since Friday.

Deputy state coroner Elaine Truscott compelled Mr Atkins to give evidence and granted him immunity from prosecution, which means any evidence he gives cannot be used against him in a criminal trial.

Police said detectives received information that led them to the Royal National Park this morning.

An extensive search is being conducted of the area and a crime scene has been established.

Police have cordoned off an area of bush about four kilometres from the Waterfall entrance to the Royal National Park.

At least four detectives are on site and a forensics van is parked on the side of the road.

A bushwalking track is inside the crime scene area.

Mr Leveson’s parents Faye and Mark Leveson spoke briefly outside Glebe Coroner’s Court.

“I’m sorry but for the time being, we just can’t talk to you. The police have asked me not to say anything at this stage, we’ve got to respect that,” Mr Leveson said.

“So please understand and be patient, when we can talk to you, we will, but for right now we just can’t say anything. So thank you all for your interest … it’s really appreciated.”

Atkins apologised to Mr Leveson’s parents during inquest

During the inquest, Mr Atkins apologised to his missing partner’s parents “for their loss” while answering questions about Mr Leveson’s presumed death.

Mr Leveson’s parents stood with their arms wrapped around each other facing Mr Atkins as he gave evidence.

Counsel assisting the inquest Lester Fernandez asked Mr Atkins to address the Leveson family.

Mr Atkins told the family he was sorry for their loss but said he did not kill Mr Leveson.

More on this story:

Michael Atkins tells police where he buried Matthew Leveson’s body

A MAN acquitted of murdering his young lover has told police where he buried the body.

Detectives have spent two days at the Royal National Park south of Sydney with electrician Michael Atkins as he has finally broken his silence on what happened to the body of Matt Leveson, 20, and has taken police to his possible grave sites.

Police have also requested help from the rescue squad to provide a drone to help search the rugged bushland.

Matthew Leveson was last seen in 2007. Picture: supplied

The inquest into Matt’s disappearance in 2007, after he left a Sydney nightclub with Mr Atkins, has been adjourned today pending the shock development.

Matt’s family, Mark and Faye Leveson, were with their other two sons at Glebe Coroners Court today as they waited for the news they had hoped for — where their son’s body is so they can bring him home to bury him.

Mr Atkins was acquitted in 2009 by a jury of the murder and manslaughter of Matt, with whom he lived at Cronulla.

Parents of Matthew Leveson, Faye and Mark, at the Coroners court in Glebe today. Picture Renee Nowytarger

He was compelled to give evidence at the inquest but given immunity from prosecution if he told the truth at the inquest into what happened to Matt — but on Friday he admitted to having lied to the court about his police interview.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2007

Matthew Leveson was last seen leaving ARQ nightclub at Surry Hills about 2am

SEPTEMBER 25, 2007

Matthew Leveson, aged 20, reported missing by concerned relatives after he failed to arrive at work and could not be contacted.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2007

Matthew Leveson’s car found by police at Waratah Oval in Sutherland.

OCTOBER 2009

Michael Atkins acquitted by a jury of Mr Leveson’s murder and manslaughter

FEBRUARY 2012

A $100,000 reward was announced for information leading to the discovery of Matthew Leveson’s body.

TODAY:

Police have launched a search in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, in connection with an ongoing investigation into missing man Matthew Leveson.

It is understood that police used Mr Atkins confession to having lied as leverage to get him to confess to where Matt’s body is.

He had told police when he was interviewed after Matt’s disappearance, he claimed to have been asleep in the couple’s flat and woke up to find Matt missing but he was confronted with CCTV footage of him buying a mattock and duct tape at Taren Point Bunnings.

CCTV footage of Michael Atkins leaving the cash register at the Bunnings Store at Taren Point.

The receipt for the purchase with Mr Atkins fingerprint on it was found in Matt’s car which was discovered at Waratah Oval five days after he disappeared.

Mr Atkins had first told the inquest last week that he had told police the truth in the interview.

Then on Friday he admitted that he had lied to them because he was “scared” of them — and therefore lied to the inquest.

Police have today launched a search in the Royal National Park in Sydney’s Sutherland shire.

  • Matthew Leveson: Michael Atkins loses appeal, must give evidence at inquest into lover’s death

    Updated 12 Oct 2016, 4:42pm

    Michael Atkins, who was acquitted of murdering his lover Matthew Leveson, must give evidence at a coronial inquest into the younger man’s death in 2007, a NSW appeal judge has said.

    Mr Atkins was the last person to see Mr Leveson alive,outside the Sydney nightclub Arq in September 2007.

    Mr Leveson’s body has never been found.

    Mr Atkins was later acquitted of murder and manslaughter.

    He exercised his right to silence during his trial in 2009 and is expected to give evidence about the matter for the first time.

    Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott ordered Mr Atkins to address the inquest, and he appealed against the order in the Supreme Court.

    In dismissing his case, Justice Lucy McCallum said:

    “The right to silence is, of course, important. But so is the coroner’s jurisdiction.”

    Under an order given by the coroner, Mr Atkins’ evidence cannot be used against him in a criminal trial.

    ‘We just want to bring Matt home’

    Mr Leveson’s mother, Faye Leveson, cried outside the Supreme Court and begged Atkins’ family to encourage him to reveal anything he knew.

    “It’s our world, it’s our family” she said.

    “How do you tell your other two boys, how do you tell them you can’t give them their brother back? It’s just not fair.”

    Ms Leveson said she hoped the inquest would help the family locate her son’s remains.

    “We just want to bring Matt home. That’s all we want,” she said.

    Mr Atkins will give evidence at the coronial inquest at Glebe Coroner’s Court on October 31.

    First posted 12 Oct 2016, 11:36am


    Matt Leveson inquest: Witness tells of threesomes with Michael Atkins, the man acquitted of missing man’s murder

    HIS arms around his young partner, this is Michael Atkins and Matt Leveson on their last night together.

     

    It was taken at Darlinghurst’s Arq nightclub in September 2007 and just hours later Matt, 22, would be missing and Mr Atkins, 52, would later be charged and acquitted of his murder.

    Their friend, given the pseudonym John Burns, has told the inquest into Matt’s death how he took this photograph at Arq either late on September 23 or early on September 24, 2007.

    It has been tendered to the inquest at Glebe Coroners Court today.

    Mr Burns told the inquest of his sexual threesomes with the couple.

    He said he only had sex with his friend Matt Leveson, 20, and Matt’s partner Michael Atkins, 52, because he wanted to get closer to Mr Leveson.

    Mr Burns is believed to be the last person to have spoken to Matt, albeit by text message, before he went “missing” after leaving Darlinghurst’s Arq Nightclub with Mr Atkins in the early hours of Sunday September 23, 2007.

    CCTV footage of Michael Atkins at Bunnings Store at Taren Point.
    Michael Atkins and Matt Leveson on the night before Mr Leveson went missing.

    Mr Atkins, who the inquest has heard lied to police about being at home later that Sunday when he was caught on CCTV buying a mattock and duct tape from Bunnings, was charged with Matt’s murder but acquitted by a jury in 2009.

    Mr Leveson’s body has never been found.

    Mr Atkins, now living in Brisbane, did not give evidence at his trial but he has been subpoenaed to give evidence at the inquest. He is sitting in a Sydney courtroom packed with Matt’s family and friends listening to the evidence of Mr Burns.

    Mr Burns told the inquest that Mr Atkins used to “hit on” the young men at Arq by giving them free drugs — ecstasy and GHB.

    He said the three men had sex together twice and after that, he noticed a difference in the relationship between Matt and Mr Atkins who had been living together in Mr Atkins’ Cronulla unit.

    He said Matt did not appear to want to be around Mr Atkins as much and there was an “obvious distance” between them.

    Mr Leveson was last seen leaving Arq nightclub.
    Matt Leveson who police believe was killed on in 2007, although his body has never been found.
    Michael Atkins arrives at Glebe Coroners Court in Sydney today for the inquest. Picture: Mick Tsikas

    On the evening of September 22, 2007, he met up with Matt and Mr Atkins at Arq where Matt was his usual energetic, happy self, bouncing around to the music, he said.

    The inquest has heard that Mr Atkins told police that he had take Matt home because he was sleepy but Mr Burns said Matt had told him he did not want to leave the nightclub.

    In one of a series of text messages, Matt told Mr Burns that Mr Atkins was “taking me home and won’t let me stay!”

    In another text, Matt said: “He needs to f***ing get over himself.”

    Mr Burns told the inquest that Matt had earlier told him that Mr Atkins was very controlling and he had not been able to go out on his own since their relationship began.

Georges Hall shooting: Hamad Asaad shot dead in ‘drive-by’ attack linked to Bankstown shopping centre execution of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad


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Georges Hall shooting: Man shot dead in ‘drive-by’ attack

‘Too wild for his own good’: Suspected gangland trigger man gunned down in Sydney

Six months after standover man Walid “Wally” Ahmad was gunned down in a brazen and very public execution, the man suspected of pulling the trigger has suffered a similar fate.

Hamad Assaad, 29, had been on the police radar after he was identified as a key suspect in the death of Mr Ahmad, who was shot as he sat in a cafe outside Bankstown Central shopping centre in April.

A man believed to be in his twenties, has been shot dead in Georges Hall, south west Sydney.

Investigators believe Mr Assaad was aligned to a rival family, which some of the Ahmads had been pitted against after another shooting outside Wally Ahmad’s smash repairs in Sydney’s south-west.

“He was on the other team,” one source put it.

It is not yet certain whether Mr Assaad’s death was in response to his widely rumoured role in the death of Mr Ahmad, who was at the helm of one of south-west Sydney’s infamous families.

Investigators suspect two gunmen and a driver were lying in wait in a black car near Mr Assaad’s Georges Hall home on Tuesday morning for him to emerge.

At about 9.20am, he walked out of his family’s Sturt Avenue home with a 12-year-old boy, whom he was about to drive somewhere.

After moving one car from the garage, Mr Assaad was getting into another when two gunmen opened fire.

“This is a targeted shooting,” Homicide Squad Detective Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said.

“These individuals obviously wanted to kill him, there is no doubt about that.”

Mr Assaad was shot “many” times, police say, and despite attempts to revive him he died on his driveway.

Neighbours said they heard a rapid succession of up to six gunshots, which sounded like they came from a semi-automatic weapon.

“I was about to go in mum’s car and I heard boom boom boom,” said the daughter of Sturt Avenue resident Sonya Aleksandrova.

“I was like, ‘Mummy, mummy shut everything please hide, shut the doors, shut the windows’.”

Mr Assaad’s mother emerged from their home, hysterical, after the shooting to find her bloodied son. Traumatic scenes followed.

Many relatives and friends flocked to the taped-off crime scene throughout the day, with one man caught jumping into the Assaad home back yard.

Wally Elriche, the one-time bodyguard for Salim Mehajer, was among a small group of men circled by police at the rear of the Assaad home.

He was not arrested but another man was loaded into the back of a police truck and taken away.

At another side of the crime scene, Mr Assaad’s distraught grandmother demanded officers let her past the police tape.

“They won’t let me see my son’s son,” she said.

“He hasn’t done anything at all. Go catch the drug dealers, gun dealers, they are killing people.”

The latest shooting has fuelled concerns about retaliation, with the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad part of the push to try to quell those concerns.

“We are always concerned about any potential retaliation from events like this,” Inspector Taylor said.

An obvious line of inquiry for police is whether Mr Assaad, a well-known figure in the south-west criminal community, was killed in retribution to Wally Ahmad’s demise.

However, police stressed they were keeping all avenues open.

Mr Assaad had previously escaped a conviction for the murder of Mohamad Alahmad, 37, who was shot six times as he sat in his BMW in the driveway of his South Granville home in 2007.

It was alleged at the time that Mr Alahmad’s ex-wife was in a relationship with crime boss Nasser Kalache but had started talking to Mr Alahmad about a possible reconciliation.

Mr Assaad was then under orders to kill Mr Alahmad with another man.

He beat the charge and was found not guilty in 2010.

In the wake of his death, a friend revealed Mr Assaad had run for Kalache for years.

“He was too wild for his own good,” he said.

“He was a really nice kid but you could direct him [to do something].”

The Homicide Squad now has three murder investigations in 2016 with possible links to the Ahmad family conflict.

It started with the shooting of Safwan Charbaji, 32, outside Wally Ahmad’s Condell Park smash repairs in April.

The conflict erupted between members of the Elmir and Ahmad family over a bizarre $100,000 kidnapping plan.

Mr Charbaji was killed and another man was shot in the jaw but survived.

Wally’s brother, Mahmoud “Brownie” Ahmad, is one of a handful of men police suspect used a gun that day. He travelled to Lebanon after the shooting.


Boy witnessed dad’s drive-by shooting death

LAURA BANKS, JACK HOUGHTON and DAVE MEDDOWS, The Daily Telegraph

A MAN — who was a suspect in a gangland hit at a Bankstown shopping centre earlier this year — was gunned down in the driveway of a south western Sydney house as he was getting ready to take his young son to school.

Hamad Asaad, 29, who was shot repeatedly in the driveway of a Georges Hall house just before 9.30am, was a suspect in the murder of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad, who was gunned down in the carpark of Bankstown Central in April, police sources told The Daily Telegraph.

Ahmad was killed in a hail of bullets when he was ambushed in the midday attack, where two other bystanders were also shot.

Police believe Ahmad’s killing may have been retribution for the murder of Safwan Charbaji earlier in April outside Ahmed’s smash repair shop in Condell Park.

A sheet covers the body of a man gunned down in a driveway in Georges Hall.

Asaad was also acquitted in the murder of Mohamad Alahmad who was shot while getting into his BMW outside his Granville home in August 2008.

It is believed Mr Alahmad’s wife Eman Hamawi had left him and entered into a relationship with crime boss Nasser Kalache but was considering reconciling with the murdered man.

Asaad collapsed in the driveway suffering multiple gunshot wounds about 9.30am. He died a short time later.

There are reports he had been shot in the head.

The man’s body was covered with a white sheet and a large quantity of blood could be seen on the concrete.

Paramedics had worked to save the man but he died at the scene.

A crime scene was set up and police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are involved in the investigation.

The sister of the victim broke down trying to get to her brother.

With tears streaming down her face, the woman begged police guarding the scene to let her in.

“Please, he’s my brother,” she said before being told she could not enter.

The woman ran off towards another distressed person waiting in a car.

A visibly distraught man is held back by friends and police at the scene. Picture: AAP
Asaad’s visibly distressed mother was helped from the scene by police and an unknown man..
Police had to earlier hold back this distraught man, believed to be the victim’s brother, who was trying to gain access to the crime scene.

A man wearing a hoodie was also seen pleading with police to be let into the crime scene, shouting the victim was his brother.

Police were also seen leading an older woman from the scene, but it is unclear if she is related to the man.

Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said the shooting was “targeted” and unfolded in a matter of seconds.

He confirmed the man had ties to Middle Eastern crime gangs.

“He was moving one car out of the driveway when he was shot multiple times,” he said.

“His mother was home at the time. She is hysterical as you can imagine.”

Insp Taylor said the victim was being “observed” by the shooters before the attack.

“The motivation behind this murder is not really known and it would not be the right thing for us to speculate,” he said.

“The family is very distraught.”

An employee of nearby Pool and Spa Warehouse, Robert, told The Daily Telegraph he heard eight to 10 shots, and ran outside to see a car speed from the location.

“We heard the shots going off and walked out and saw I’m pretty sure a black Mercedes fly up the road,” he said.

Police have since confirmed the vehicle was a black Audi sedan.

Robert said it sounded like more than one gun was used in the shooting.

“It sounded like there were six (shots) from one gun and then I heard another shot that sounded like it came from another gun,” he said.

Dozens of police raced to the scene after reports of the shooting.
Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are among those at the scene.

His colleague Raj Goundar, 50, agreed.

“I think it was an automatic weapon because it went dudududud really fast,” he said.

“It was not a simple one shot, there were a lot of them.

“It is scary but if you hang with the wrong crowd this happens.”

The shooting took place at Sturt Ave, Georges Hall


 

JACK HOUGHTON, LAURA BANKS and DAVID MEDDOWS The Daily Telegraph

A MAN shot dead on a south-western Sydney driveway this morning was a suspect in a gangland hit at a Bankstown shopping centre earlier this year.

Hamad Asaad, 29, who was gunned down in the driveway of a Georges Hall house just before 9.30am, was a suspect in the murder of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad, who was gunned down in the carpark of Bankstown Central in April, police sources told The Daily Telegraph.

Ahmad was killed in a hail of bullets when he was ambushed in the midday attack, where two other bystanders were also shot.

Police believe Ahmad’s killing may have been retribution for the murder of Safwan Charbaji earlier in April outside Ahmed’s smash repair shop in Condell Park.

A sheet covers the body of a man gunned down in a driveway in Georges Hall.

A sheet covers the body of a man gunned down in a driveway in Georges Hall.Source:News Corp Australia

Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad was ambushed and shot dead at Bankstown Central in April. Picture: Seven News

Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad was ambushed and shot dead at Bankstown Central in April. Picture: Seven NewsSource:Channel 7

CCTV shows the moment Ahmad was shot in the April attack.

CCTV shows the moment Ahmad was shot in the April attack.Source:Supplied

Asaad collapsed in the driveway suffering multiple gunshot wounds about 9.30am. He died a short time later.

There are reports he had been shot in the head.

The man’s body was covered with a white sheet and a large quantity of blood could be seen on the concrete.

Paramedics had worked to save the man but he died at the scene.

Paramedics had worked to save the man but he died at the scene.Source:News Corp Australia

A crime scene was set up and police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are involved in the investigation.

The sister of the victim broke down trying to get to her brother.

With tears streaming down her face, the woman begged police guarding the scene to let her in.

“Please, he’s my brother,” she said before being told she could not enter.

The woman ran off towards another distressed person waiting in a car.

Police and paramedics at the scene.

Police and paramedics at the scene.Source:News Corp Australia

A visibly distressed woman was helped from the scene by police and an unknown man..

A visibly distressed woman was helped from the scene by police and an unknown man..Source:News Corp Australia

Police had to earlier hold back this distraught man who was trying to gain access to the crime scene.

Police had to earlier hold back this distraught man who was trying to gain access to the crime scene.Source:News Corp Australia

A man wearing a hoodie was also seen pleading with police to be let into the crime scene, shouting the victim was his brother.

Police were also seen leading an older woman from the scene, but it is unclear if she is related to the man.

Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said the shooting was “targeted” and unfolded in a matter of seconds.

He confirmed the man had ties to Middle Eastern crime gangs.

“He was moving one car out of the driveway when he was shot multiple times,” he said.

“His mother was home at the time. She is hysterical as you can imagine.”

Insp Taylor said the victim was being “observed” by the shooters before the attack.

“The motivation behind this murder is not really known and it would not be the right thing for us to speculate,” he said.

“The family is very distraught.”

An employee of nearby Pool and Spa Warehouse, Robert, told The Daily Telegraph he heard eight to 10 shots, and ran outside to see a car speed from the location.

“We heard the shots going off and walked out and saw I’m pretty sure a black Mercedes fly up the road,” he said.

Police have since confirmed the vehicle was a black Audi sedan.

Robert said it sounded like more than one gun was used in the shooting.

“It sounded like there were six (shots) from one gun and then I heard another shot that sounded like it came from another gun,” he said.

Dozens of police raced to the scene after reports of the shooting.

Dozens of police raced to the scene after reports of the shooting.Source:News Corp Australia

Neighbours said the man moved into the home about six months ago with a wife and young children.
Neighbours said the man moved into the home about six months ago with a wife and young children.
Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are among those at the scene.

Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are among those at the scene.Source:News Corp Australia

His colleague Raj Goundar, 50, agreed.

“I think it was an automatic weapon because it went dudududud really fast,” he said.

“It was not a simple one shot, there were a lot of them.

“It is scary but if you hang with the wrong crowd this happens.”

The shooting took place at Sturt Ave, Georges Hall

The shooting took place at Sturt Ave, Georges HallSource:The Daily


dailymail.co.uk

Man shot dead outside a Sydney house in drive-by attack

  • A man, 29, was gunned down in Sydney’s south-west on Tuesday morning
  • Emergency services were called to a house on Sturt Ave in Georges Hall about 9.20am
  • Paramedics treated the man for multiple gunshot wounds but he died at the scene
  • A black ‘sports type’ sedan was seen leaving the scene, NSW Police said

The victim was a key suspect in the murder of gangland figure Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad gunned down in April

  •  WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW 

A man gunned down outside his house in Sydney’s south-west on Tuesday morning was known to police and was believed to be a key suspect in the execution-style murder of a prominent gangland figure.

Hamad Assaad, 29, was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting on Sturt Ave in Georges Hall at 9.20am.

Police said they believe the victim was leaving his house when two shooters in the back of a black sports car shot him dead in board daylight.

Assaad was a suspect in the shooting of gangland figure Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad, who was gunned down in April this year, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ahmad’s murder at a Bankstown shopping centre was thought to be retribution for the killing earlier that month of another man, Safwan Charbaji.

Scroll down for video 

A man in his 20s has been gunned down outside a house in Sydney’s south-west

He was shot multiple times outside a house on Sturt Ave, Georges Hall, about 9.20am on Tuesday

Police are seen here speaking to onlookers at the scene

The victim was a suspect in the shooting of gangland figure Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad (pictured)

In 2010 Assaad was charged with murder in another drive-by shooting, relating to a love triangle, but was found not-guilty of killing Mohamad Alahmad, 37.

On Tuesday after Assaad was shot, he was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics for multiple wounds, however he died at the scene.

‘These individuals obviously wanted to kill him. There’s no doubt about that. He was the target,’ Detective Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said.

The man’s distraught mother was home at the time of the attack, however it is not yet clear if she witnessed her son’s murder.

Ahmad’s murder at a Bankstown shopping centre (pictured) was thought to be retribution for the killing earlier that month of another man, Safwan Charbaji.

Nearby residents and shops said they heard multiple gunshots

A black Audi sedan was seen leaving the scene

Man shot dead in execution-style hit in his Sydney driveway

He was well known to police, and detectives from the State Crime Commisison, Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad and officers from the south-west Sydney region are investigating.

Officers described the attack as a ‘targeted shooting’, and are currently scouring CCTV footage from businesses and homes in the area.

Photos showed the man’s body laying in the driveway covered by a white sheet, and a large amount of blood could be seen on the concrete beside him.

Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are reportedly at the scene

Officers are seen here speaking to bystanders

A distraught man was held back by friends and police after arriving at the scene

The man was comforted by a friend as police blocked his entrance to the crime scene

Earlier it was reported police were hunting for a black Audi seen in the area, however it was later confirmed they were hunting for a black ‘sports type’ sedan.

A hairdresser at Tamed Hair by Rose, around the corner from the house, heard the gun shots.

‘It does happen but it hasn’t happened quite so close to us,’ Rose told AAP.

‘It was pretty frightening.’

Disturbing footage showed paramedics performing CPR on Ahmad after he was  fatally shot in April 2016

A man was treated by paramedics at the scene of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad’s shooting in April for gunshot wounds to his leg before being taken to hospital

An injured bystander after the April 2016 shooting of Wally Ahmad

 

Damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners-Don Dale detention centre

Despicable, we have seen this overseas and thanked GOD it could never happen here. I think by the immediate actions of the Federal Government in calling and Royal Commission says a lot. Disgusting, if this is how my child might be treated if he committed crimes in NT, bloody hell, help us all! NO human deserves to be treated as a DOG or worse. NO matter what

I am compiling all the videos so they can be seen together, folks. Appalling, never in my dreams did I think we treat anybody like this. ALL these kids are underage.No matter what they did or why they are there we as a society are not violent. I personally am not surprised the individuals shown reacted they way they did. It is a matter of survival! At least a dozen clips on the way stay tuned


Despicable, we have seen this overseas and thanked GOD it could never happen here. I think by the immediate actions of the Federal Government in calling and Royal Commission says a lot. Disgusting, if this is how my child might be treated if he committed crimes in NT, bloody hell, help us all! NO human deserves to be treated as a DOG or worse. NO matter what…(Robbo)

I am compiling all the videos so they can be seen together, folks. Appalling, never in my dreams did I think we treat anybody like this. ALL these kids are underage.No matter what they did or why they are there we as a society are not violent. I personally am not surprised the individuals shown reacted they way they did. It is a matter of survival! At least a dozen clips on the way stay tuned (Robbo)


NT Government counter-sues boys who were tear-gassed at Don Dale

29/07/16

The Northern Territory Government is counter-suing two boys who were tear-gassed by prison guards at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

The boys, whose names have been suppressed by the Northern Territory Supreme Court, lodged papers in June this year seeking damages for alleged mistreatment at the hands of staff at the facility.

But the NT Government’s response, filed on July 4, is seeking damages for an escape attempt in which the two boys stole a car, before using it to ram a roller-door and re-enter the prison.

The Government claims the two boys escaped from Don Dale on May 31, 2015, causing $89,000 in damage.

It also claims the boys caused $74,025.60 damage when they rammed a roller door at the prison using a stolen car on June 1, 2015.

The NT Government is seeking damages with interest and legal costs.

Both boys, and four others who are not being counter-sued, are seeking damages for the now-infamous tear-gassing incident in the old Don Dale centre as well as a string of other claims.

The writs filed by the boys seek general, aggravated and exemplary damages to “deter and punish” the NT Government.

One of the prisoners suing is Dylan Voller, who was the prisoner strapped to a restraint chair for hours with a spit hood placed over his head.

Another is Jake Roper, who was the boy who got out of his cell in the behavioural management unit of the old Don Dale centre, which instigated the tear-gassing of all prisoners in the area.

Here is the whole video in one go.I do prey that in the interests of the publics right to know and to educate our country I do NOT get a strike.

John Elferink sacked from Corrections in wake of Four Corners report; Adam Giles alleges culture of cover-up

Updated 19 minutes ago

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles has sacked his Corrections Minister John Elferink in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners, while alleging there has been a “culture of cover-up” within the Corrections system.

Key points:

  • John Elferink remains as Mental Health Minister, Attorney-General
  • Adam Giles alleges cover-up of video evidence
  • Staff seen in Four Corners report still in Corrections system

John Elferink, the minister responsible for young detainees in the Northern Territory, has been sacked in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners.

At a press conference today, NT Chief Minister Adam Giles announced he had taken over the portfolios of Corrections and Justice from Mr Elferink.

“Can I start by saying that anybody who saw that footage on television last night on Four Corners would undoubtedly describe it as horrific footage. I sat and watched the footage and recognised horror through my eyes,” Mr Giles said.

He said the footage aired in the Four Corners report had been withheld from him, Mr Elferink and “many officials in government” — with him only seeing it for the first time “on television last night”.

“I think over time there has most certainly been a culture of cover-up within the Corrections system,” he said.

“I think there’s been a culture of cover-up going on for many a long year. The footage we saw last night [went] back to 2010 — and I predict this has gone on for a very long time.”

He said his government had been “working very hard to try and fix many of those issues”.

“What we’re changing is a culture of an organisation within the youth detention system and I think we’ve come a long way in that time. That’s not to discredit any of that terrible footage we saw on Four Corners last night. It was terrible footage but we’re seeking to improve the system,” Mr Giles said.

When asked if he personally was comfortable with children being strapped into restraint chairs, Mr Giles refused to answer definitively.

“We’re going to have a look at that as part of the royal commission. We will have a review into that. I can’t talk about individual cases,” he said.

“There are kids who are trying to deliberately cause cranial issues by bashing their head against the wall.

“Prison officers need the ability to be able to de-escalate issues when children are not in … a calm environment within themselves and at all times those kids’ wellbeing is being put at the best possible place.

“Having said that, there is certainly footage last night, particularly the footage dating back to 2010, 2012 and 2014 where I don’t think the standards have been upheld.”

Mr Giles said the Northern Territory community was “sick of youth crime … they have had a gutful”.

“They’ve had a gutful of cars getting smashed up, houses getting broken into, people being assaulted. There’s no doubt. And the majority of the community is saying let’s lock these kids up,” he said.

 

Some staff from footage still with corrections

The Acting Commissioner of Corrections Mark Payne, who took over in 2015, admitted some staff seen in the Four Corners report were still working with NT Corrections.

“A number of the staff, particularly those who have become the subject of previous investigations, a number of those staff members are no longer with us in the organisation. They’ve either been terminated in their employment or have chosen to resign,” Mr Payne said.

“A number of staff members who may have been implicated to sustain charges, criminal or internal, remain with us.

“There were only two staff members identified in footage last night that still remain within the youth justice sphere.”

Asked if he held any concerns for the welfare of youth detainees, Mr Payne said he did not.

“I have no concern and, in fact, I should remind the public that we have the Children’s Commissioner and their staff come in to our facilities once a week,” he said.

“We have representatives and our elders visiting program coming into the facility.

“We invite people in tours of the facility so as I stated previously, when I came into the organisation I found certainly a different place and its certainly a different place today in 2016 to what was identified in the footage last night.”

Elferink office target of attack

Asked where the Mr Elferink was, Mr Giles answered: “I don’t know.”

“I imagine he’s are probably in his office. I’ve advised John that I am assuming the Corrections responsibility immediately and that occurred five minutes before I walked into this office,” he said.

Mr Giles said Mr Elferink would retain his other portfolios, including Health, Children and Families and Mental Health.

This morning, Mr Elferink’s Darwin electoral office was the target of a vandal graffiti attack with police attending the scene.

Mr Elferink is yet to speak publicly since the Four Corners report, in which he is featured offering ABC journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna a lift on his motorcycle to the Don Dale area where the so-called “riot” took place in 2014.

The ABC revealed the riot never happened and was concocted by prison authorities as an excuse for the use of tear-gassing of six boys.

The report has resulted in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today announcing a royal commission into the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system.


Evidence of ‘torture’ of children held in Don Dale detention centre uncovered by Four Corners

Video: LANGUAGE WARNING: Watch the video obtained by Four Corners (ABC News)

Vision of the tear-gassing of six boys being held in isolation at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in August 2014 has been obtained by Four Corners, exposing one of the darkest incidents in the history of juvenile justice in Australia.

The vision is part of an investigation featuring a chilling catalogue of footage revealing a pattern of abuse, deprivation and punishment of vulnerable children inside Northern Territory youth detention centres.

The tear-gassing incident was described as a “riot” at the time, with media reporting multiple boys had escaped their cells in the isolation wing of the prison, known as the Behavioural Management Unit (BMU), and threatened staff with weapons.

But CCTV vision and handy-cam recordings made by staff, obtained exclusively by Four Corners, show only one boy escaped his cell after it was left unlocked by a guard.

Former corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook last year defended the officer’s actions in the wake of a damning report by the Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner.

“I am not in the business of overuse of force. There were two sprays from an aerosol in the area. Now it wasn’t overuse of gas,” Mr Middlebrook told the ABC at the time.

But CCTV vision from the incident shows 10 bursts of tear gas being sprayed into the enclosed area over the space of one-and-a-half-minutes.

All six boys were exposed to the tear gas, five while still locked in their cells.

Not all the children were misbehaving — two boys can be seen on CCTV calmly playing cards before being exposed to the fumes. Another can be seen repeatedly smashing the wall of his cell with a broken light fitting.

The 14-year-old boy who escaped his cell can be heard repeatedly asking how long he had been in isolation and requesting to talk to staff.

Instead of negotiating with the boy, prison staff can be heard laughing and mocking him, calling the boy “an idiot” and a “little f****r”.

Four Corners has managed to track down several of the boys who were tear gassed. They describe being highly distressed, afraid for their lives, and say that two years on they are now suffering from disturbing flashbacks and nightmares from the ordeal.

The CCTV vision also shows the children’s reactions as they are affected by the gas, running to the back of their cells, hiding behind sheets and mattresses, gasping for air, crying, and bending over toilets.

One boy is left in his cell and exposed to tear gas for eight minutes. He is seen lying face down on the floor with his hands behind his back, before being handcuffed by two prison officers wearing gas masks and dragged out of his cell.

‘Ticking time bomb’ of potentially unlawful solitary confinement

The use of tear gas at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in 2014 came after months of tension, repeated escapes and incidents at the centre, which was staffed with under-trained Youth Justice Officers, in what has been described as a “ticking time bomb” by former staff.

Three weeks before the tear-gassing incident, five boys had escaped from Don Dale.

When they were recaptured, they were placed in the isolation wing of the prison for between 15 and 17 days, in what were described by both children and staff as appalling and inhumane conditions.

They were kept locked in their cells for almost 24 hours a day with no running water, little natural light, and were denied access to school and educational material.

The boys being kept in isolation were accidentally discovered by a group of lawyers, including solicitor Jared Sharp, when they were taken on a tour of the facility in August 2014.

“We all sort of looked at each other in shock that there was kids in these cells, because there was signs of life in there but we didn’t know who was in there or what was happening, or how long they’d been there,” Mr Sharp told Four Corners.

“To what extreme is that, is to my view is torture. To my view that is treating kids in a way that is just entirely unacceptable,” he said.

Human Rights Lawyer Ruth Barson said the isolation of the children was a clear violation of the United Nations Convention against Torture.

“The UN’s expert on torture has said there are no circumstances that justify young people being held in solitary confinement, let alone prolonged solitary confinement,” Ms Barson told Four Corners.

“I think the NT and in particular Don Dale has a long way to go to ensure their practices are compliant with Australia’s obligation on the convention against torture and against the right of the child.”

Government says improvements made

In the days after the tear gassing, NT Corrections Minister John Elferink praised the actions of his staff and the prison security dog used on the night of the incident.

“I congratulate again, and place my support behind, the staff who made this decision. The staff worked hard, Fluffy the Alsatian worked hard and, as far as we are concerned, it was a problem that was solved quickly,” Mr Elferink told Parliament.

In the wake of the incident, the Don Dale centre was closed and the children were moved to the run-down, old Berrimah adult prison.

The NT Government commissioned an independent report into the incident by former Long Bay prison boss Michael Vita, which was released in January 2015.

Mr Elferink told Four Corners the Government had learned from the mistakes of the past.

“It was a system that needed improvement. It was a system that had fundamental problems, which is why I’ve worked so hard to improve it and it has been improved,” he said.

“That was a circumstance that clearly demonstrated to me that something had to be done, which is what the Vita Report was all about.

“Those circumstances have now been changed… we hope that they won’t be repeated.”

NT Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne confirmed to Four Corners there are still ongoing issues with youth detention in the Northern Territory, with many of her 2015 report recommendations still not implemented.

“The response has not been as urgent as we would have liked. The issues raised in that report are extremely serious and I would like to see a more full response,” she said.

“[We need] some urgency and some dedicated resources thrown at this.”