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.

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

 

Tiahleigh Palmer: Foster father Rick Thorburn charged with murder over schoolgirl’s death


 BTW I have heaps of Video and court Docs just waiting to post  legally

Inside the idyllic rural property where 12-year-old Tiahleigh Palmer’s spent 10 months before her murder

au.news.yahoo.com

Child safety service not told Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father was ‘person of interest’ for months

Yahoo7 News on September 28, 2016, 5:53 am

Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father and accused killer Rick Thorburn was permitted to run a daycare business for five months after the schoolgirl’s death despite being a person of interest in the investigation, it has been revealed.

Queensland’s Department of Child Safety and Education were not notified that Thorburn was a person of interest in the case until April 2016, and the 56-year-old held a blue card until then, The Courier Mail reports.

Tiahleigh, 12, disappeared on October 30 when Thorburn claimed he dropped her off at school and she failed to come home.

Tiahleigh’s remains were found on a riverbank in November 2015.

Her body was discovered five days later, washed up on the bank of the Pimpama River.

Police told News Corp last week that Thorburn was a person of interest “from day one”, however the child safety authority was not notified until April, Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman confirmed.

Rick Thorburn has been charged over Tiahleigh’s murder. Photo: Supplied.

The department was told the Logan man was also facing allegations relating to an 11-year-old girl and four-year-old girl, the Courier Mail reported.

“In April, police notified my department and the Department of Education and Training of alleged criminal activity. This was the first time that concerns were raised about the Thorburns,” Ms Fentiman said last week.

Thorburn was charged over Tiahleigh’s murder and taken into custody on September 20, six weeks before the one-year anniversary of her disappearance.

Trent Thorburn was reportedly bashed twice in prison since his arrest. Photo: Supplied.

His son and Tiahleigh’s foster brother Trent Thorburn is also in custody accused of having an incestual relationship with the girl in their Chambers Flat home.

The 19-year-old dancer has reportedly been bashed twice by fellow inmates since being held in the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.

The Queensland Government ordered a review into the foster care system and blue card services the day after the arrests.


IT WAS a house of misery where Tiahleigh Palmer spent 10 months of her life before her murder.

The schoolgirl was placed with former truck driver and muscle-car enthusiast Rick Thorburn and his family in the house on an isolated stretch of road at Chambers Flat, a rural pocket of strawberry farms and horse paddocks in the Logan area south of Brisbane.

The seemingly idyllic 2ha property where Tiahleigh made her new home with the Thorburn family is modern, with two bathrooms, a swimming pool, rolling green lawns and horses in the yard.

But inside the four-bedroom brick house just eight minutes from where Tiahleigh was last seen attending her high school, the young girl was allegedly preyed on by her foster brother Trent Thorburn.

The house in Chambers Flat in a rural area where Tiahleigh Palmer spent her last months in 2015.

The house in Chambers Flat in a rural area where Tiahleigh Palmer spent her last months in 2015.Source: Supplied

An occasional truant, Tiahleigh was well-liked at school.

An occasional truant, Tiahleigh was well-liked at school.Source :News Corp Australia

Tiahleigh Palmer attended school minutes from the Thorburn’s property.

Tiahleigh Palmer attended school minutes from the Thorburn’s property.Source:News Corp Australia

Tiahleigh came to live with the Thorburns, Rick and Julene and their sons Trent and Josh in the isolated family farmhouse south of Brisbane before she was murdered.

Tiahleigh came to live with the Thorburns, Rick and Julene and their sons Trent and Josh in the isolated family farmhouse south of Brisbane before she was murdered.Source: Supplied

The 19-year-old, who lived with his brother Josh, 20, and mother Julene has been charged with incest while Rick Thorburn, 56, has been charged with Tiahleigh’s murder.

Not all was well with the Thorburn family. Following a serious back injury which forced him to give up his job as a truckie, Rick Thorburn had tried a number of jobs to feed his family.

A car enthusiast, he had sold vehicle and engine parts from the property.

He was also a devotee of American culture and came up with the idea to sell US food from a truck he drove to festivals and other events in the Logan area.

A month after Tiahleigh moved into the Thorburn’s home, Rick Thorburn took his food van — which he named Nothing Healthy Here — and travelled around with his sons Trent and Josh selling hot dogs, hot jam doughnuts, churros and pancakes from the van.

This is the house in Flesser Rd at Chambers Flat where Tiahleigh lived with her foster parents.

This is the house in Flesser Rd at Chambers Flat where Tiahleigh lived with her foster parents.Source:News Corp Australia

The swimming pool at the house rented by the Thorburns.

The swimming pool at the house rented by the Thorburns.Source: Supplied

Rick Thorburn, at his Chambers Flat home before his arrest. Picture: Liam Kidston

Rick Thorburn, at his Chambers Flat home before his arrest. Picture: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia

“We saw the quality of food at other places and decided we could do it bigger and better. We try to keep it unique and we have food you can’t get anywhere else,” he told the Jimboomba Times.

Mr Thorburn said he looked forward to being able to provide guests with a good old-fashioned feed.

“We do sell one healthy thing – water,” he joked in September last year.

Mr Thorburn made the comments almost eight weeks before Tiahleigh Palmer vanished.

While she lived with the Thorburns, Tiahleigh had been attending Marsden State High School, where Chaplain Ian Pratt said she was a free spirit who passionately threw herself into a range of creative pursuits.

The seventh grader was also described as “not always perfect” and an occasional truant from classes, but there was no suggestion of the alleged abuse that was unfolding at her new foster home.

Tiahleigh, 12, lived on the property which is among farms and horse paddocks south of Brisbane.

Tiahleigh, 12, lived on the property which is among farms and horse paddocks south of Brisbane.Source: Supplied

Rick Thorburn had lost his trucking job after a back injury and was selling American fare from a food truck. Picture: Liam Kidston

Rick Thorburn had lost his trucking job after a back injury and was selling American fare from a food truck. Picture: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia

Tiahleigh Palmer allegedly kept a terrible secret while living at the Thorburn home and attending the local school.

Tiahleigh Palmer allegedly kept a terrible secret while living at the Thorburn home and attending the local school.Source: Supplied

The Thorburns property looked idyllic, but police allege Tiahleigh was being abused while she lived there.

The Thorburns property looked idyllic, but police allege Tiahleigh was being abused while she lived there.Source: Supplied

Tiahleigh had been placed with the Thorburns after spending a happy three years with a foster mother in Gympie, just over 200km north of the Chambers Flat house where she spent her final months.

The schoolgirl lived with Julie Pemberton in the Logan area for years until December 2014, when Ms Pemberton decided to stop acting as a foster carer.

Tiahleigh had been removed from the care of her biological mother, Cyndi Palmer, who was

in and out of police custody with drug problems between 2011 and 2013.

During that time Tiahleigh had experienced some of the lows of the Queensland foster care system, in which she sometimes stayed with carers for as little as 24 hours before being moved to another home.

Despite living in foster care, Tiahleigh remained close to her mother.

The 12-year-old lived with the Thorburns at this house between January and October last year before she was murdered and her body dumped.

The 12-year-old lived with the Thorburns at this house between January and October last year before she was murdered and her body dumped.Source :Supplied

Police divers found Tiahleigh’s shoe but not her uniform after fishermen discovered her body floating in the Pimpama River. Picture: QPS

Police divers found Tiahleigh’s shoe but not her uniform after fishermen discovered her body floating in the Pimpama River. Picture: QPSSource: Supplied

Rick Thorburn, above before his arrest, at the gate of the property his family shared with Tiahleigh Palmer. Picture: Channel 9

Rick Thorburn, above before his arrest, at the gate of the property his family shared with Tiahleigh Palmer. Picture: Channel 9Source: Supplied

At the time Ms Pemberton gave up her role as a foster carer and Tiahleigh was placed with the Thorburns, Cyndi Palmer had been trying to regain custody of her daughter.

Following Tiahleigh’s murder, Ms Pemberton said that Cyndi Palmer had “got it together” and that she “might have made a few mistakes but she is lovely and absolutely adores her daughter”.

Cyndi Palmer has posted on Facebook that she had endured an “evil” 2011, but had turned her life around but had “learned from it and … well prepared and educated for making 2012 the start of everything I want it to be for my family and I”.

But Tiahleigh’s return to her mother’s care never happened.

After almost a year with the Thorburns and allegedly involved in an incestuous relationship with her foster brother, Tiahleigh was dropped off at Marsden High School at 8.10am on October 30 by Rick Thorburn.

Witnesses say she entered the school briefly, but then left.

Six days later, fishermen found Tiahleigh’s badly decomposed body floating in the Pimpama River, 30km south of where she was last seen.

Police divers found one of Tiahleigh’s shoes, but her school uniform and pink backpack were missing.

Queensland Police have also charged Tiahleigh’s foster mother Julene Thorburn and her son Josh with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Rick Thorburn is in hospital in an induced coma after an alleged attempt at self harm following his arrest.


Tiahleigh Palmer’s 19-year-old foster-brother told a cousin he’d had sex with the 12-year-old and was worried she was pregnant, a court has heard.

In successfully keeping Trent Jordan Thorburn behind bars, prosecutors argued he had deliberately misled and lied to police throughout the 11-month investigation into the alleged murder of the Logan schoolgirl.

Foster brother admitted sex

The foster-brother of Tiahleigh Palmer is refused bail, charged with incest and lying to police. 7 News Queensland

Police prosecutor Sergeant Ellen French alleged a Facebook Messenger conversation between Mr Thorburn and his cousin two days before Tia went missing showed him disclosing that he’d had sex with her.

“He says he had sex with the victim on the prior Monday and he had only done so because she had threatened to kill his dog,” Sergeant French said, of a conversation that was allegedly handed over to police.

“The defendant said he was concerned about her being pregnant…” she told the court.

“The defendant further outlines the victim had spoken to his mother about it.”

Mr Thorburn’s defence lawyer John Ide argued he should have been granted bail on charges including incest considering his age, lack of criminal history and potential time behind bars awaiting trial.

“He’s a young man with no criminal history whatsoever,” he said.

Trent Thorburn.
Trent Thorburn.  

“In my submission it couldn’t be said he’s an unacceptable risk of any of the things that’s asserted by the prosecution.”

Sergeant French told the court Mr Thorburn had denied any involvement or sexual conduct with Tia on five separate occasions and colluded with his family to mislead police.

Tiahleigh Palmer's mother Cindy waits with supporters outside court.
Tiahleigh Palmer’s mother Cindy waits with supporters outside court. Photo: Glenn Hunt

“Eventually the defendant has admitted to the authorities that he had lied on multiple occasions in order to conceal the  sexual intercourse between himself and Tiahleigh,” she said.

A friend of Tia’s told police the young girl had approached her about a month before her alleged murder, saying “Trent tried to touch me”, Sergeant Ellen alleged.

Former foster carers Cameron and Wayne Pemberton speak to media outside court.
Former foster carers Cameron and Wayne Pemberton speak to media outside court. Photo: Glenn Hunt

“She further said that the victim claimed to have disclosed this to her foster-mother,” she said.

Mr Thorburn has been charged with incest, perverting the course of justice and two counts of perjury relating to Crime and Corruption Commission hearings in July and September this year.

Cindy Palmer arrives at the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning.
Cindy Palmer arrives at the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning. Photo: Jorge Branco

Prosecutors argued he was “highly likely” to interfere with witnesses and “would attempt in every way shape and form to evade and avoid every risk” of imprisonment.

Magistrate Pamela Dowse kept Mr Thorburn behind bars, saying he was “not a candidate for bail at this point in time” but another application could be made in the future.

Tiahleigh Palmer.
Tiahleigh Palmer.  Photo: Supplied

Outside court, Mr Ide said he would consider applying to the Supreme Court for bail.

Police allege Mr Thorburn’s father, Richard Thorburn, killed Tia in an attempt to cover up his son’s alleged crime.

Richard Thorburn has been charged with the murder of his foster child.
Richard Thorburn has been charged with the murder of his foster child. Photo: Jorge Branco

The alleged killer was remanded in custody after his matter was heard on Wednesday morning as he remained in an induced coma in hospital after collapsing in the watchhouse on Tuesday.

EARLIER

A member of Tiahleigh Palmer's foster family arrives at Logan police station on Tuesday.
A member of Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster family arrives at Logan police station on Tuesday.  Photo: Glenn Hunt

The man accused of murdering Queensland schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer and dumping her body in a Gold Coast river is in an induced coma and won’t appear in court before a crowd of her mother’s supporters.

Foster father Richard Neville Thorburn, 56, was due in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning, ahead of an application for bail by his son on related charges.

But the father remained in the intensive care unit at the Princess Alexandra Hospital on Wednesday, after collapsing in the watchhouse on Tuesday afternoon.

Defence solicitor Kelly Thompson, from Robertson O’Gorman solicitors, told the court she’d spoken with doctors at the hospital.

“He’s currently in an induced coma and there’s no indication as to when he might be brought out of that at this stage,” she said.

A crowd of people expecting the appearance packed Beenleigh courtroom, leaving standing room only for a host of people due to appear on other matters, with supporters flanking Tia’s biological mum, Cindy Palmer.

Among them were Tia’s former foster father Wayne Pemberton and his son Cameron, who paid tribute to the “good girl”.

Wayne said the “feisty” 12-year-old lived with them for two and a half years and described his “total shock” at hearing the man who cared for Tia after him had been accused of her murder.

“You don’t expect that from a carer,” he said.

“That’s not what you’re here to do.

“To hear that and for everyone in the family to (allegedly) be involved it’s just unthinkable.”

Ms Palmer declined to comment as she made her way into the courthouse in suburban Beenleigh, just off the highway roughly halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Wayne, who remembered Tia’s love of waterskiing and other watersports, said it couldn’t be said Ms Palmer was happy but she was glad of an outcome.

Trent Jordan Thorburn, 19, has been charged with incest, perjury, and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He’s due to appear in court on Wednesday.

He was set to apply for bail after midday in a hearing his lawyer indicated would take about 45 minutes.

Richard Thorburn’s hearing went ahead without him and was adjourned for a committal mention on December 21.

He won’t be required to appear, meaning Ms Palmer again won’t have a chance to come face to face with her daughter’s alleged killer.

Mr Thorburn told police he dropped his foster daughter off at school about 8.10am that morning but police will allege that was a lie.

They’ll allege he instead murdered the 12-year-old at the family home in the Logan suburb of Chambers Flat on the night of October 29, before dumping her body in the river that night or the next.

The killing was sparked by a discovery made that night, which led Mr Thorburn to kill the girl in an attempt to cover up a crime Trent had committed against Tia, police will allege.

The younger brother was charged with incest, among other alleged crimes.

A missing person alert for Tia wasn’t put out until November 5, hours before her badly decomposed body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River.

The delay drew criticism, sparked wide-ranging changes to authorities’ responses to missing children in care and further condemnation from Wayne Pemberton on Wednesday as “very frustrating”.

“It’s not a good thing to have to wait around for someone to put an alert out but it finally got done,” Cameron said.

“It should have got done quicker. It shouldn’t have taken so long.”

Another supporter, who didn’t know the family, said she was “disillusioned” with the government’s handling of children in care.

Being charged with murder, Mr Thorburn must apply for bail to a higher court if he wants to be released.


The younger son, Trent, 19, described himself as a dancer, metal fabrication apprentice, and classic car builder.

Police believe the teenager sexually abused Tiahleigh. He was denied bail on charges for incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice in court this afternoon.

In court, the prosecutor argued he “took advantage of (Tiahleigh) as her big brother and as a result her young life has been taken”.

The foster brother was concerned he had impregnated the child, the court heard. Police are expected to allege the boy’s father killed Tia to cover for his son.

THE foster family at the centre of allegations into the death of Tiahleigh Palmer buried the Brisbane schoolgirl in a heartfelt ceremony attended by more than 600 people last November.

Back then, Rick Thorburn, 56, Tia’s foster father and accused killer, appeared to hold back tears as he solemnly carried her child-sized coffin, acting as a pallbearer.

He blended in to the crowd of purple, Tia’s favourite colour, which mourners had chosen to wear to pay tribute to the young girl. The colour also became a symbol of commitment to the desperate search for answers over what had happened to her.

His shirt read “in love memory of Tiahleigh R.I.P.” At the service, he comforted her grieving mother.

The truck driver turned food van proprietor and his wife had taken in Tia as a foster child while her biological mother, Cyndi Palmer, worked to get her life on track after struggling as a teen mum and spending time in the prison system.

Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:AAP

Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:Supplied

She lived with the couple and their two adult sons in their Chambers Flat home where Thorburn’s wife Julene, 54, also ran a home daycare service.

The eldest of the two boys, Josh, 20, was qualified to work as an assistant in the home business and had been unemployed in recent years while recovering from injury.

The younger son, Trent, 19, described himself as a dancer, metal fabrication apprentice, and classic car builder.

Police believe the teenager sexually abused Tiahleigh. He was denied bail on charges for incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice in court this afternoon.

In court, the prosecutor argued he “took advantage of (Tiahleigh) as her big brother and as a result her young life has been taken”.

The foster brother was concerned he had impregnated the child, the court heard. Police are expected to allege the boy’s father killed Tia to cover for his son.

A facebook photograph of Rick Thorburn and family Josh, Julene and Trent. Rick and Trent have been charged in relation to the murder of Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:Facebook

A Crime Stoppers tip led police to swoop on the family on Tuesday, arresting Rick, Julene, Josh, and Trent at various addresses in the Logan area.

Following police interviews Rick was yesterday formally charged with Tia’s murder. Trent, the youngest of Tia’s foster brothers, has been charged with incest.

Julene and Josh have been charged with one count each of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

All four family members are awaiting court, Trent’s today and Julene’s and Josh’s next month, though father Rick’s has now been delayed. The murder-accused was expected to face a bedside hearing at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, but is in an induced coma following a suspected self-harm attempt while in custody.

When his case returns to court, now scheduled for December, police are expected to allege the foster father murdered the girl in his car to protect his teenage son according to the Courier-Mail. Police will allege Trent sexually abused Tia.

Trent Thorburn was Tiahleigh’s foster brother.Source:No Source

Trent Thorburn, 19, has been charged with incest, perverting the course of justice and perjury in relation to the death of Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:No Source

Tia’s foster father and relatives have long been persons of interest throughout the 11-month investigation of the schoolgirl’s disappearance and murder, senior police sources told the Brisbane paper.

Less than a month after Tia’s death, the foster father published a post on Facebook saying the family had accommodation for one or two people in their “happy home environment on acreage”.

He described the residence as a clean and safe home.

The case has prompted the Queensland government to review the approval process for foster carers and working with children checks.

Acting Premier Curtis Pitt says both will be examined by extending a review already under way, with a report expected back early next year. “We will be very, very careful to ensure that the young people who are in our foster system as well as, of course, the broader child protection system are given all the protections,” he said.

Announcing details of the review, Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman confirmed the foster parents continued to run a child care business from their home after Tia’s death.

Tiahleigh’s mother, Cyndi Palmer at Beenleigh court on Wednesday where Rick Thorburn was due to appear. Picture: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia

Tia went missing at the end of October last year. Her foster father was reportedly the last person to see her alive, dropping her off near Marsden State High school just after 8am on October 20.

Despite calls for action from her biological family, Tia wasn’t reported missing for six days. The delay was explained away at the time as taking care with concerns around identifying a child in care.

The same morning an alert was distributed by police appealing for help finding the girl, a trio of fishermen discovered her semi-naked decaying body on the banks of the Gold Coast’s Pimpama River.

The water and dirt had washed away any signs of what had happened to Tia, and police had few clues to work with while going about investigating how she had died.

Investigators were worried they may never solve the case.

Tia’s biological mother and grandmother were outspoken in appealing for witnesses and calls to Crime Stoppers from members of the public who may have seen or heard anything that could assist with finding out what happened to their little girl.

But her foster family was silent.

Foster father Rick Thorburn has been charged with murder. He is in an induced coma in a Brisbane hospital. Picture: Jack TranSource:News Corp Australia

Again speaking out, Tia’s grandmother Sue Palmer last night revealed her shock and anguish over the Thorburn family’s charges.

She said the news had “knocked the wind right out of my sails”.

“When it happens to your own it just is like a twisted knife in your heart,” she told A Current Affair on Tuesday.

“I’m just absolutely addled with thoughts of how she died, and that’s something that I really want to know.”

Ms Palmer criticised the Thorburn family’s behaviour following Tia’s death, which was made all the more alarming following yesterday’s allegations.

“They took pride of place at the funeral which I didn’t think they deserved and people treated them as though they were parents of long standing which they weren’t,” she said.

“It’s really really scary. It’s awful trying to raise little girls and boys nowadays. You can’t fix kids once you’ve wrecked them. You can’t fix Tiahleigh.”

Ms Palmer said she gained no relief from the arrests and charges, bringing her and the rest of Tia’s family closer to finding answers.

“To be really truthful it’s not a relief at all, it’s not even closure, it’s pain on pain,” she said.

Rick Thorburn remains in an induced coma and is due to face court on charges of murder and interfering with a corpse in December. His son Trent will face Beenleigh Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday charged with incest, perjury and perverting the course of justice. He is expected to apply for bail.

Thorburn’s wife Julene and other son Josh have both been charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice, and have been bailed to return to court on October 10.

20/09/2016 Update
2016-09-20_16-13-36
a charge of incest has also been laid against one of the young males arrested.
tiahleigh-palmers-foster-father-has-been-arrested-over-the-schoolgirls-murder-9news

Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father Rick Thorburn has been charged with murder over the 12-year-old’s death, hours after he and his wife were arrested by homicide detectives south of Brisbane, police say.

Thorburn arrived at Logan police station in handcuffs just before 11:30am.

His wife Julene Thorburn arrived at the police station separately a short time later.

Less than two hours later, Detective Inspector Damien Hansen emerged from the police station to tell the media Thorburn would be charged with murder at the Beenleigh Police Station watch house.

“He will be appearing in court tomorrow,” Inspector Hansen said.

Earlier today, homicide detectives arrested four people in connection with the murder investigation.

“A woman aged 54, as well as three men aged 19, 20 and 56 were taken into custody by officers attached to Operation North Mizzen — a joint Homicide and Logan District investigation,” a police statement said.

“All four are known to each other and were located at various addresses in Logan.”

The ABC understands the two younger men also arrested are related to the Thorburns.

The arrests came shortly after police confirmed Tiahleigh’s foster father was the former owner of a car seized by police last week.

The 12-year-old’s body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River last November, almost a week after she vanished.

A week ago, detectives seized a 2009 blue-coloured Ford XR6 sedan they believed was linked to Tiahleigh’s murder.

Police said last week the car’s current owner was not considered a suspect.

Today, Detective Inspector Damien Hansen confirmed Thorburn was the car’s former owner.

His link to the investigation had been revealed in the media, which Inspector Hansen said could have hindered the progress of detectives.

“It didn’t help us,” he said.

Inspector Hansen admitted the investigation had moved quickly in the past 24 hours.

“Due to certain factors we’ve moved quicker than than we possibly would have wanted to,” he said.

Car still under forensic examination

He said police had received no further information in relation to the car since it was seized.

“We’ve looked at every person who had involvement with Tiah in this investigation,” Inspector Hansen said.

He declined to say what police, if anything, had found in the car.

“It’s still being examined,” he said.

He said detectives had also updated Tiahleigh’s biological mother on the investigation.

“She’s comfortable with our response at this stage,” Inspector Hansen said.

“But I will take the opportunity to say that also with the family that there are certain times we can’t pass on information, when the information is at a critical stage.

“It’s possibly been one of the most difficult investigations I’ve been involved in.”

Woman and baby boy in 20th-floor death plunge-Murder Suicide

Woman and baby boy in 20th-floor death plunge: ‘Gut-wrenching scream’ as woman, 31, jumps from balcony of her luxury Melbourne apartment holding 4-month-old ‘believed to be her son’


Woman, child die falling from internal balcony from Docklands apartment

Police tape marks the scene where a woman and child died after a balcony fall in Melbourne’s CBD. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Wes Hosking, Anthony Dowsley

A WOMAN and a four-month-old baby have died after an apparent fall from an apartment balcony in Melbourne’s CBD.

The pair were found just after 10.30am in an apartment building at the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets.

Family are at the scene with one yelling “oh no” when told of the news.

It is understood the woman, 31, plunged from a balcony high in the City Point building.

Police are with distraught family. The deaths are not being treated as suspicious.

The bodies of a woman and child were found just after 10.30am. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

The bodies of a woman and child were found just after 10.30am.

The exact circumstances of where the child was are unknown at this point.

It is believed the woman may have been residing above 20th floor.

Paramedics entered the building to attend to someone who may have become distressed about 1.30pm.

Later, a family could be seen talking with police and social workers in the foyer of the building just before 2pm.

A priest earlier entered the building to console family, and the coroner is on the scene.

A senior police officer has told media they will not be making any comment about the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, but police confirmed the ages of the pair in a statement.

“A 31-year-old woman and a 4-month-old child were located deceased at an apartment building in Docklands this morning,” a statement read.

The Melbourne CBD location where a mother and child have died in a horror fall.

The Melbourne CBD location where a mother and child have died in a horror fall.Source:Herald Sun

The pair are believed to have fallen from an internal apartment balcony. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

The pair are believed to have fallen from an internal apartment balcony.


A resident, Alex Champ, said he was unaware of the incident. He said families, children and travellers stayed in the high rise.

“You get all people and young ones (living here), he said. “There is an internal area where there is a drop.

“It’s just crazy to think it’s just a few floors above me.”

A small section of the east bound Bourke street lane has been reopened by police near where it meets Spencer St.

Police are working to identify the mother and child. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Police are working to identify the mother and child.

Police have been speaking to staff at the Chocolate Frog Cafe, which is in an older building which fronts the tall apartment complex behind it.

Earlier Victoria Police spokesman Alistair Parsons said: “Police are currently at an apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands where a woman and a child were located.”

“The yet to be identified woman and child died at the scene,’’ he said.

“At this early stage it is believed they may have fallen from an internal balcony.”

The exact circumstances surrounding the incident were yet to be determined.

Police have cordoned off the area and are speaking to witnesses.

Paramedics were called to the area but could not assist the pair.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

The pair died near the corner Spencer and Bourke Streets. Picture Yuri Kouzmin <br />

The pair died near the corner Spencer and Bourke Streets.

Originally published as Woman, baby die in balcony fall


Woman and baby boy in 20th-floor death plunge: ‘Gut-wrenching scream’ as woman, 31, jumps from balcony of her luxury Melbourne apartment holding 4-month-old ‘believed to be her son’

 

  • Woman and baby plunged to their deaths from a balcony in Melbourne
  • The four-month-old boy is believed to have been her son
  • The father ‘collapsed in shock’ when he arrived at the Docklands building
  • Emergency services were unable to revive the woman, 31, and baby
  • The pair’s identities are yet to be determined as investigations continue

Witnesses heard a ‘gut-wrenching’ scream as a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby boy died in an apparent murder-suicide when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne.

The woman was carrying the baby, believed to be her son, when she took her own life at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands.

Police confirmed they were not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths and a report would be prepared for the coroner

Witnesses heard 'gut-wrenching' screams after a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby died when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne. Police speak to a witness

Witnesses heard ‘gut-wrenching’ screams after a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby died when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne. Police speak to a witness

They say the pair fell from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene.

Police have also said a damaged balcony was not the cause of the woman and baby’s fall.

Their bodies were discovered in a courtyard of the building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000.

The 31-year-old woman lived on the 20th floor with the baby boy’s father who is said to be devastated, according to Herald Sun.

He collapsed in shock when he arrived at the scene and was taken to hospital, 7 News reported.

Police are looking to establish if she had leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony, according to the ABC.

She is believed to have been holding the baby at the time.

Witness Christine Harms told The Age she heard someone yell out, ‘Oh no, oh no’, after the incident.

‘A lady went into the alleyway and then there was some screaming,’ Ms Harms said.

‘It was gut-wrenching to hear.’

The woman was carrying the baby when she took her own at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands. Pictured are police at the scene

The woman was carrying the baby when she took her own at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands. Pictured are police at the scene

Police say the pair plummeted from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene

Police say the pair plummeted from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene

Relatives and friends visited the apartment block early on Thursday afternoon.

A man who knew the woman said they were left shocked by the incident, adding: ‘We don’t know what happened.’

A Victoria Police spokesperson said initial investigations led them to believe the pair fell from an ‘internal balcony’.

‘The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are yet to be determined,’ she said.

Police were unable to confirm the relationship between the woman and baby.

Paramedics were also called to the scene but they were unable to revive the pair, a Victoria Ambulance spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.

More than a dozen uniformed and plain-clothed police and eight police cars closed off the scene – at one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections – with some taking bagged items out of the building.

Investigators started to leave shortly after 3pm and the footpath at the front of the building was reopened as police tape was removed.

Traffic detours were in place until about 1.30pm.

For confidential help, call Lifeline at 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Pictured is an apartment inside the City Point building on Bourke Street

Pictured is an apartment inside the City Point building on Bourke Street

She reportedly lived on the 20th floor but police are looking into if she leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony. Above is an image of another apartment at City Point

She reportedly lived on the 20th floor but police are looking into if she leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony. Above is an image of another apartment at City Point

The foyer inside the City Point building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000

The foyer inside the City Point building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000

The family of the woman, who lived on the 20th floor, are said to be devastated by the tragedy. Pictured is the City Point apartment building

Online dating site victim conned out of $127k, Robyn Clare Pearce jailed for 14 months-Has form


Robyn Clare Pearce jailed for 14 months-Has form so why a shitty short sentence.What about repayment, no remorse she will get out after learning a few more scams in jail to get out there and  rip them off for more money more often. Get real

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate's Court.
Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate’s Court.

Online dating site victim conned out of $127k, Hobart woman jailed for 14 months

A Hobart woman had been jailed for 14 months for conning $127,000 out of a New South Wales man she met through an online dating site.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 62 of Sandford, pleaded guilty to dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage.

Pearce met the 60-year-old retired public servant online in August 2007 and by October that year was spinning elaborate lies to get him to lend her money.

He did so on 122 occasions, lending a total of $127,000.

She gave him several reasons for needing money, including legal fees incurred pursuing her ex-husband for child maintenance, furnishing a flat and buying a car for her daughter and paying for her elderly mother’s medical treatment.

In truth, Pearce spent the money on gambling.

The court heard Pearce put $2 million through poker machines at Wrest Point Casino between July 2007 and December 2010.

By November 2008, her victim was selling assets to fund the loans to her.

Victim sold home after mortgage default threat

He extended his mortgage but the retiree was unable to keep up with the payments.

When his bank threatened to default on the mortgage, he sold his house and moved into a modest home in rural Victoria.

The court heard Pearce repeatedly promised she would move there to join him and would get a job to pay him back.

But Pearce’s physical and mental health meant she knew at the time she was making promises that she would never be able to keep.

Justice Helen Wood accepted that Pearce did not befriend the man with the intent to defraud him.

“I accept that the relationship the defendant had with the complainant was a friendship and she valued that,” Justice Wood said.

“She did not set out to prey on him.” I say absolute bullshit to that

History of similar offences

But Justice Wood said Pearce had taken advantage of her victim’s kind and generous nature and spun him elaborate lies repeatedly in order to convince him to lend her money.

Pearce had originally also been charged with defrauding a 92-year-old American man she met through a Christian dating site of about $122,000 between 2011 and 2015.

But that charge was dropped after her plea of guilty in the current case.

In 2012, she was jailed for convincing a Queensland man she met through a dating site to part with almost $80,000.

The court heard Pearce had previously also received suspended, or partly suspended sentences, for other dishonesty matters.

She was sentenced to 14 months’ jail for the latest offending, with Justice Wood noting Pearce’s anxiety and agoraphobia, and her poor physical health, would make the sentence more burdensome for her.

Pearce will not be eligible for parole until she has served seven months.


Online love fraudster Robyn Clare Pearce behind bars after fleecing lonely NSW man of $127,000

A GAMBLING-addicted Sandford woman has been jailed for defrauding a lonely pensioner of more than $120,000 in an online love scam.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 62, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining a financial benefit by deception.

In the Supreme Court in Hobart this morning, Justice Helen Wood said Pearce met a 60-year-old New South Wales man through an internet dating site in August 2007.

Although the pair never met, they exchanged messages and Pearce asked the man for money to pay bills.

After he transferred $1500 to her account, she continued to make demands every few days for money for medical care, to buy a vehicle or furniture and to pay debts.

When he tried to refuse her demands, Pearce became insistent. In all she received $127,000 from the man.

A lonely NSW man targeted in an online dating scam was relieved of $127,000 by a Tasmanian woman, who has been jailed for fraud.

Justice Wood said as a result of Pearce’s actions, the man had been forced to sell his home and move to a more modest abode in rural Victoria — holding out hope that she would move to be with him.

He had been left in financial trouble, depressed and socially isolated by her actions and had trouble trusting people, the court heard.

Pearce had lost $200,000 after putting $2 million though the poker machines at Wrest Point Casino, Justice Wood said.

The judge noted Pearce has a long history of fraud offending and had breached three suspended sentenced by her actions.

She said the offending has taken advantage of the victim’s kind and generous nature and Pearce’s moral culpability was high, despite a number of mental and physical problems which made prison a tough environment for her.

She sentenced Pearce to 14 months in prison, with a seven month non-parole period.

Pearce was also accused of stealing $122,000 from a 91-year-old American man she met via a Christian dating website but those charges were discontinued by the Crown.


Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce pleads not guilty in Hobart court to alleged online dating fraud

A SANDFORD woman has pleaded not guilty to fraud offences relating to an alleged internet dating scam.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 61, appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court this morning.

She is charged with dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage.

Police allege Ms Pearce defrauded tens of thousands of dollars from a 64-year-old New South Wales man between April 2011 and January this year.

Magistrate Simon Cooper granted Ms Pearce bail and ordered her to appear in the Supreme Court on June 9.


Woman admits internet ‘love fraud’

Updated 16 Oct 2012, 10:40am

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate's Court
Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate’s Court

A Hobart court has ordered a woman to seek counselling after she convinced a Queensland man to give her nearly $80,000 over the internet.

Robyn Clare Pearce from Sandford in southern Tasmania admitted dishonestly acquiring money from a Queensland man she met through an internet dating site in 2007.

During a three-year phone and email relationship, Peace convinced the man to lend her nearly $80,000.

The Hobart Magistrates Court heard she made up a variety of reasons for borrowing the money but never paid it back.

She also got the man to falsely email that she had repaid some of the money.

Pearce was sentenced to 10 months’ jail for dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage relating to $22,600.

Eight months of her sentence was suspended, provided Peace is of good behaviour and undergoes psychological treatment.

She also has to pay back the money.


 

Bikie taskforce Echo raid Seabrook home in Melbourne’s west


 an hour ago

Bikie taskforce Echo police are currently executing warrants on a home in Melbourne’s west. Picture: Nicole Garmston

A SENIOR Mongol bikie has been arrested and a 3D printer seized during a raid in Melbourne’s west this morning.

Echo Taskforce detectives arrested two men and a woman, all with links to the Mongols OMCG, after raids in Seabrook and Oakleigh South earlier today.

A man arrested at the Seabrook property. Picture: Nicole Garmston
A woman is arrested during raids at the property. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Homes in Mintaro Way in Seabrook and Fleming Court in Oakleigh South were raided at 6am.

Ammunition, 3D printers, equipment for manufacturing firearms and a small amount of drugs were seized from the Seabrook property.

A 26-year-old Seabrook man and a 27-year-old Seabrook woman were arrested.

An allegedly stolen motorbike was seized from the Oakleigh South property and a 29-year-old man was arrested.

Middleton was bailed last month after he was arrested for drug and violence offences.

He was released with conditions a magistrate described as the “strictest she’s ever set”.

The 26-year-old’s partner Renee Comeadow was also arrested.

Evidence gathered in relation to bikies. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Police leave the scene with evidence. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton was granted bail last month by magistrate Margaret Harding, who said he needed to be reunited with his family after five months on remand.

Ms Harding had wanted Middleton to hand in his bikie colours as a condition of bail, but backed away after she was told other bikies could threaten Middleton’s family because that was a “sign of disrespect”.

Police seized his Mongols vest this morning.

A police officer carrying a Mongols jacket leaves the scene. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Visitor outside the property. (black top)  Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton had told the magistrate he would not wear the club’s colours while on bail.

Other conditions included a $300,000 surety, daily reporting to police, a strict curfew, non association with witnesses and bikies.

Middleton, a father of a two-year-old, also promised to stay out of parts of Port Melbourne and Werribee as a condition of release.

Middleton and his partner Comeadow turned up at Sunshine Hospital at 8.15pm on November 1 last year after the OMCG member was shot in the knee.

Police arrived and searched Comeadow’s car where they allegedly found around 500 grams worth of ecstasy, a rubber gun grip and 4.2mm ammunition cartridges.

Middleton was charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of ecstasy and possession of ammunition.

Detective Senior Constable Andrew Broad, a member of the Echo Taskforce, told Melbourne Magistrates’ Court at the time that a search carried out at the couple’s home in Seabrook also resulted in officers finding a gun and a “substantial” amount of drugs.

Comeadow was charged with possessing a commercial quantity of ecstasy and storing ammunition after police searched her car at the hospital.

The search of the couple’s home allegedly uncovered a handgun and more drugs, the court heard.

Defence lawyer Sarah Pratt, representing Comeadow last year, said: “There is no allegation Ms Comeadow is in an OMCG.”

Police spokeswoman Melissa Seach said: “The warrant is part of an ongoing Echo Taskforce investigation in relation to perverting the course of justice.”

david.hurley@news.com.au

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