Thousands demonstrated on the French island of Martinique against a looming statute of limitations that may hurt their compensation case for widespread harm done by a highly toxic insecticide. The chemical, chlordecone, was widely used between 1972 and 1993 to protect banana plantations : worldnews


This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 79%. (I’m a bot)


Thousands demonstrated on the French island of Martinique at the weekend against a looming statute of limitations that may hurt their compensation case for widespread harm done by a highly toxic insecticide.

The chemical, chlordecone, was widely used between 1972 and 1993 to protect banana plantations from insects in Martinique and neighbouring Guadeloupe, also a French territory in the Caribbean.

Over 90 percent of the adult population of Martinique and Guadeloupe suffer from chlordecone poisoning, according to the French public health agency.


Extended Summary | FAQ | Feedback | Top keywords: French#1 Martinique#2 Guadeloupe#3 island#4 statute#5

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Inquest into cold case rape and murder of Bronwynne Richardson hears three prime suspects all dead


A coronial inquest into the 1973 rape and murder of teenage beauty queen Bronwynne Richardson has heard there is little chance of anyone being prosecuted over her death because the three key suspects are dead.

A three-day hearing that ended in Albury, New South Wales on Friday, was the third inquest into the 17-year-old Corowa teenager’s death.

Counsel assisting Sally Dowling said Bronwynne was “violently abducted, brutally physically and sexually assaulted” after she was snatched from an Albury street in October 1973.

Despite lengthy investigations by NSW and South Australian police, no-one has been brought to trial over her death.

“The reality is that her family has been living with the heartbreak and uncertainty about how she died and who is responsible,” Ms Dowling said.

“There is a strong possibility that there will be insufficient evidence for Your Honour to reach a finding.

The third inquest was called following additional information that police said changed their focus since the 2011 inquest.

The first inquest was held in 1975.

Bronwynne’s second cousin, Colin Newey remains the “principal suspect”, according to investigators.

Mr Newey, who died in 2019, was arrested over the rape and murder in 2014, but the charges were dropped weeks before he was to face court.

At the time the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions said there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction” on the evidence available.

During the first day of the inquest Ms Dowling told the court Mr Newey was “a career criminal with a history of sexual and physical violence toward women”.

The court heard the alibi Mr Newey “consistently returned to” over the years had been “conclusively disproved.”

He had told investigators he had been at an army camp the weekend Bronwynne was abducted.

“He gave different version of the weekend on which she died and admitted to being in Smollett Street between 6:00pm and 7:00pm and seeing her,” Ms Dowling said.

Convicted sex offender Max Martin, who had been released from prison on the morning of Bronwynne’s death, was also suspected to have been involved.

He died in 1995.

A third man, Kevin Newman, who investigators say may have been involved in the crime to a lesser extent, is also dead.

The inquest heard two anonymous phone calls made to South Australian Police in 1989 had led the focus of the investigation toward four men, Max Martin, Ross Eames, Geoff Brown, and Kevin Newman.

Investigators said they now believed Mr Newey made the calls.

“Since 2011, it has become apparent the two anonymous phone calls were designed to and succeeded in turning police attention toward those men,” Ms Dowling said.

Police initially thought the calls were made by Mr Eames, who was 14 years old at the time, but that was ruled out.

“The caller named Geoff Brown and Max Martin as being responsible and also stated he (the caller) and Kevin Newman were in the car when Bronwynne was abducted and were present at her death,” Ms Dowling said.

Investigators have since ruled out any involvement from Ross Eames and Geoffrey Brown, who was Bronwynne’s former boyfriend.

A witness who cannot be named told the inquest he was drinking in a bar in the Albury region in the 1980s when he overhead two men discussing Bronwynne’s death.

“I heard Bronwynne’s name mentioned,” he said.

“Because that name is pretty synonymous to the area my ears picked up.

“I only knew about it through the media — I didn’t know her.

“Then I heard him say that he was involved.

He said the man said he and two others had been driving down Smollett Street when they saw Bronwynne standing in the street.

“He said the guy in the back said, ‘Quick, go around the back and if she is there when we come back, we’ll grab her and have some fun,'” the witness said.

He said the man then recounted the events which led up to Bronwynne’s murder.

“He never once wavered in his story — he never backtracked,” the witness said.

Some time after the incident he was shown a picture of Kevin Newman and identified him as the man in the pub.

The witness said he was left “petrified” and tried to leave the pub without the men realising he had overheard their conversation.

On the final day of the inquest the brother of Colin Newey broke down in tears as he gave evidence.

Peter Newey repeatedly apologised and was asked by Ms Dowling why he was upset.

“I am sorry, Colin, with what’s happened … I’m just — I just don’t believe, no, I am sorry,” he said.

Ms Dowling told Mr Newey the investigation was “coming to the end of the line”.

“Three men have died, the opportunities for people to tell what they know are running out and this may be the last opportunity you have to say what you know,” she said.

“Now that Colin is gone, is there anything you can now tell the coroner that you might know?”

Mr Newey apologised again.

“I don’t believe what I’ve heard through the cases and the inquest that Colin could’ve done this,” he said.

Mr Newey agreed that his brother could be physically and sexually violent and said he had suspected at some point that his brother may have had some involvement in their cousin’s murder, but “didn’t press him on it”.

An application to adjourn the inquest for closing submissions to be made in writing was made by Ms Dowling on Friday.

“In our submissions there may be two benefits of the inquest — to clear the names of previous people named in the investigation, and the very real benefit of delivering some degree of closure for the Richardson family,” she said.

The findings are expected to be handed down in Albury at a date to be fixed.

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Mick Gatto loses defamation case against ABC over Lawyer X article


Well-known Melbourne identity Mick Gatto has lost a defamation lawsuit against the ABC, with Victoria’s Supreme Court dismissing a claim for compensation.

Mr Gatto launched legal action against the public broadcaster in 2019, after he was the subject of an article relating to Melbourne’s Lawyer X scandal.

Mr Gatto claimed the article made him out to be a “murderer” and “one of Australia’s most violent criminals” — submissions which were rejected by the Supreme Court’s Justice Andrew Keogh.

Justice Keogh ruled the meanings claimed by Mr Gatto were not made out, finding it was “neither necessary nor appropriate” to consider awarding damages.

The story in question, written by Sarah Farnsworth and former ABC reporter Nino Bucci, was published in February 2019 and remains on the public broadcaster’s website.

The article was based on a document which outlined police claims about the risks to Nicola Gobbo if her identity was uncovered, namely a secret police affidavit which contained evidence from Inspector Brooke Hall.

In the 2016 court document, Inspector Hall made a statement that Informer 3838 — now known to be gangland lawyer-turned-police-informer Ms Gobbo — would “almost certainly” be murdered if her former clients were told she had been speaking with police while acting as their lawyer, and that Mick Gatto, Horty Mokbel — the brother of Tony Mokbel — and others had threatened her.

“That group specifically stated that if [3838] were found to be a human source then [she] would be killed,” Inspector Hall’s evidence read.

The affidavit was from a court case brought by Victoria Police to prevent Ms Gobbo’s identity from being revealed.

Throughout the trial, Mr Gatto, 64, told the court the article had gone too far and damaged his and his children’s reputation.

“They crossed the line by calling me a murderer, a hit man and one of the most violent men in Australia,” Mr Gatto said.

“There’s nothing further from the truth.”

Justice Keogh said Mr Gatto was a “newsworthy and a legitimate subject of public interest”.

“The ABC were entitled to devote the report to those parts of the proceedings that concerned Mr Gatto, provided that in doing so the article was not so tendentious or otherwise slanted as to render it a distorted report,” he wrote.

“Far from being distorted, the article was entirely accurate and correlated with what occurred in those parts of the Proceedings which were reported.”

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Auckland returning to seven-day lockdown after a mystery coronavirus case was recorded



New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Auckland will be put into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday after a coronavirus community case of unknown origin was recorded.

The rest of New Zealand will be put into level two restrictions that limit public gatherings, among others, she told a news conference on Saturday.

Ms Ardern said the new case, a high school student, currently has no symptoms of the virus.

“The high school student in the household has tested negative for COVID-19 on three separate occasions, and currently has no symptoms for COVID-19,” she said.

“That means we have no current known link for the case discovered this afternoon.”

She said it’s “strongly assumed” that the new case is genomically linked to the South Auckland cluster.

“If we cannot immediately link a case person to person, what we call it an epidemiological link, that is a significant issue, and one, we need to act on.”

Ms Ardern said the rules had not been followed, noting the new case went to the doctor in the afternoon yesterday for a COVID-19 test, followed by the gym.

“People who should have been in isolation, weren’t,” she said.

The case also visited a supermarket and a university.

“These are well populated sites, and given the time that has passed since the onset of the illness, we may well have close context, who are already infected,” Ms Ardern said.

In mid-February, Auckland’s nearly two million residents were plunged into a snap three-day lockdown after a family of three were diagnosed with the more transmissible UK variant of COVID-19.

More to come…

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The case for diversifying housing options for older Australians


Taking time off work with her first child, young mum Kate Kirsten felt increasingly anxious about the prospect of leaving her tiny daughter in childcare when it was time to return to her office.

She confided her fears one day on the phone to her dad.

“Well, I do miss you,” he said. “And I’m lonely living here on my own. Why don’t I just move in with you, and give you a helping hand?”

The pair talked it over and decided to give it a try. Twelve years on, they can’t imagine ever living apart again.

Her dad, Len Parsons, helped her bring up her two children, Sienna, now 12, and Will, 11. He loves living with his family and his grandkids absolutely adore him.  

“It’s worked out so well for us,” says Kate, 46, who lives with the children in a house in Leichhardt, in Sydney’s inner west, which has a studio in the backyard where Len, 87, sleeps and retreats to when he wants a quiet refuge.

“We all genuinely like each other and we’re great housemates.”

“Dad loves having so much time with his grandchildren, and they love his sense of humour and that he’s around so much.”

“In addition, it’s much more economical living together rather than him going to a retirement home and me paying for childcare. And we all get on well, and treat each other with patience and respect.”

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Kate, her father Len and her two children are just one of the many families choosing to live inb multi-generational households. Photo: Peter Rae

Social researchers say that, with slower population growth and the drop in migration, our society is ageing rapidly, with older Australians making up a growing proportion of the total population.

With that change, we need to look at fresh ways of housing more mature people and keeping them as a valued, and integral, part of the greater community.

Latest studies from the University of NSW’s City Futures Research Centre shows more and more of us are taking that challenge into our own hands, with one in five Australians – just like Kate and Len and the kids – now living in a multi-generational household.

Another project from Corelogic and Archistar found that there are 583,440 properties in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that have room enough to build an additional self-contained unit of at least 60 square metres.

“Different generations of the same family living together is something that’s traditionally been strong in other cultures overseas, but less common here,” says Craig Christensen, principal at the award-winning urban planning and design practice Hatch RobertsDay.

“But, really, it should be an option for all of us.”

“We need to build bigger apartments with separate space for grandparents, or houses with a studio or granny flat where they can have their own private space. I think this is going to be a growing trend.”

Another change Craig predicts is the growth of mixed-use developments, with aged-care living integrated into the whole, either with separate blocks, or dedicated floors for older residents in regular buildings.

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Len lives in his daughter’s backyard studio where has his own personal space when needed. Photo: Peter Rae

His practice worked with Sekisui House Australia to design the new Ripley Town Centre south-west of Brisbane to include senior living and aged care.

In Sydney, the Crown Group is creating the mixed-use complex Eastlakes, in the city’s south, to include apartments side-by-side with 80 stores, cafes and restaurants as well as an 1800-square-metre emergency and medical centre that’s likely to appeal particularly to an older demographic.

In addition, some of the apartments are likely to be specially planned with bigger bathrooms, handrails, non-slip tiles and wider spaces throughout to accommodate wheelchairs.      

“We’re seeing a lot of multi-generational families moving into our Green Square and Waterfall developments because it means they can live close to all the facilities they need,” says Crown CEO Iwan Sunito.

“Some like to live together as it’s part of their culture, or kids might be trying to save money after losing their jobs during COVID-19, while other family members might have separate apartments on the same floor or in other buildings in the same complex. But I also think that COVID made us all value our closeness to family more. And at Eastlakes, with that medical centre and being so close to the Prince of Wales Hospital, it’s going to be ideal for older members of the family.”

Another rapidly emerging trend is to have aged living above shopping centres, public transport hubs, restaurants or cafes.

In Sydney’s eastern suburbs, developer Lendlease bought, and completely refurbished, a vertical village of independent living units, the Ardency Trebartha, which now sits above one of Elizabeth Bay’s busiest, and most fashionable, cafes, Shuk. 

“I’m a regular, and go down to get coffee and food and meet my grandchildren there,” says resident Zandra Stanton, 82, who’s also chair of the residents’ committee.

“Some people get their meals delivered up to them too from the cafe, which is nice.”

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Zandra Stanton is an active member of her community within Ardency Trebartha as residential chairperson. Photo: Peter Rae

“We have one 98-year-old man in the building who goes down every morning for coffee and cake. I think getting together with other people there, and having a social life in the building, keeps a lot of people alive!”  

Lendlease managing director retirement living Nathan Cockerill says it’s a great way of avoiding the loneliness and isolation that older Australians often feel.

“They want to stay local and connected to their community, loved ones and require different services and amenities to complement their lifestyle,” he says.

“Ardency Trebartha is a great example of what we’re planning for the future – it’s a multi-storey apartment building that’s located in the inner city with harbour views. It has a popular cafe on the ground floor, and within the building, there’s a hair and beauty salon, bar and lounge, library and cinema. The building is integrated with the surrounding area rather than being a closed community so that residents can stay connected.”

One of the main difficulties at the moment for older Australians is that they simply don’t have enough housing options, believes Professor Bruce Judd of the University of NSW, who’s currently collaborating with Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, on research on population ageing and housing issues. 

“A lot of people really want to live in single-level houses with two to three bedrooms, no stairs and a small courtyard,” he says. “But while those sorts of villas were built in the 1960s and 1970s in places like Rockdale and Kogarah, they’re not really available now.

Villas are usually single level homes in a small complex.
1970s style villas are usually single level homes that are accessible to older residents requiring mobility assistance.

“We talk about downsizers moving into smaller houses, but they still need space. They want bedrooms for their grandkids to come and stay and to use for hobbies, or an office, or for sewing or exercise. In one project, we found only nine per cent of over-55s had actually downsized to a smaller number of bedrooms.”

Many of them are nervous about apartment living, too, Judd believes, as they’re worried about noise from their neighbours next door, below and above, have an aversion to dealing with the owners’ corporation and, since they’re usually on fixed incomes, don’t like the possibility of strata levies increasing.

“But some builders are now building three-generation homes with private areas so grandparents can have their own space, and there are more dual-key apartments [apartments that can be divided into two] coming onto the market.”

Dr Debbie Faulkner, director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute at the University of Adelaide, is carefully watching the development of more innovative models of housing for older people. These range from special units of public housing, to co-operative housing, to friends getting together, buying land and building housing for them all.   

“But we need to make it easier for these models in terms of the planning and financial systems,” she says. “It can be very onerous in the current situation.” 

Even if 20 per cent of new houses in Australia included features like grab-rails and step-free entrances, it would allow many more older people to age in their own homes, says Craig Christensen.

“Building more liveable housing could reduce the need for care and could promote greater independence in the older age group,” he says.     

Making society generally more age-friendly can also do a lot to help. The growth of community gardens often offers older people the chance to participate in a pastime they may have grown up with.

Peter Ives, secretary of the Addison Road Community Garden in Marrickville, and himself in his 70s, says it can prove a great way to mix.

Many community gardens accept compost donations.
Volunteering in public initiatives such as community gardens is one way older Australians remain connected within their local communities. Photo: Supplied

“Some older people may attend for exercise and to socialise and for amusement,” he says. “Others might come to grow the food they like to eat, as well as for the company.”

Having company is, indeed, one of the most important requirements of healthy ageing. Isolation, loneliness and depression are the real killers.

Happily, Len Parsons, surrounded by the love of his family, considers himself in an ideal position. So many of his neighbours know him too, from his volunteering at the local playgroup and church. 

“They all say we’re so lucky to have him with us,” says Kate Kirsten, the editor of magazine Take 5. “And we think so too.”

Sienna agrees. “It’s good having family around all the time,” she says. “I never have to remember to carry keys on me!”

Will grins. “And he tells good jokes,” he says. “He’s very funny – even though he barracks for the wrong footy team …”

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Melissa Caddick’s court case must go ahead despite alleged fraudster’s death, ASIC says


Australia’s financial regulator says a looming Federal Court hearing into Melissa Caddick’s company should proceed “as a priority”, just hours after police confirmed the businesswoman was dead.

Campers found the decomposed foot of Ms Caddick, 49, washed up on a remote beach on the NSW South Coast on Sunday, more than three months after she went missing from her home at Dover Heights, in Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs.

Investigators from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said a Federal Court hearing listed for April 7 should go ahead “as a priority”.

“ASIC’s priority is to seek the return of funds to investors in the most efficient way possible,” an ASIC spokesperson said.

“Following the announcement … that the remains of Ms Melissa Caddick have been identified, ASIC notes that its investigation into Ms Caddick and her company, Maliver Pty Ltd, is continuing.”

Melissa Caddick when ASIC raided her house earlier this month.(ABC News)

Ms Caddick is alleged to have defrauded long-term friends and associates who invested millions of dollars in her financial services company, Maliver.

Cheryl Kraft Reid and her wife Faye were victims of Ms Caddick and entrusted their life savings to their family friend of 25 years.

Ms Kraft Reid told Nine Radio that news of Ms Caddick’s death was tragic, but she had ruined lives with her actions.

“What type of woman would play this type of game … in essence, she thought all that money and material goods was more important than a son.

“Now she’s left a young man who is without a mother, for what?”

A couple sit at a cafe.
Faye Reid (left) and Cheryl Kraft Reid entrusted Melissa Caddick with their superannuation.(ABC News: Aaron Hollett)

Ms Kraft Reid described her once-friend as a “sociopath” and said she had been desperate to see justice after she and her wife lost nearly $1 million of their superannuation to Ms Caddick.

“It’s about seeing consequences for what’s happened to us and the many years we’ve worked for zero returns because she decided to live an entitled and frivolous life spending it on high-end products,” she said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian today extended her condolences to Ms Caddick’s family after police confirmed the foot found on the beach matched her DNA.

“I want to thank those citizens that came forward and provided information to the police and commend the police for undertaking those activities,” she said.

“This is a good example of our community working with the police to get to a good outcome in terms of identifying a case or putting a case to rest but at the end of the day, a young woman life has been lost we have to consider her family as well.”

A woman in a ballgown, a man in a suit stand on a red carpet
Friends say Melissa Caddick and her husband Anthony Koletti lived a lavish lifestyle.(Facebook: Anthony Koletti)

A Facebook group set up after Ms Caddick’s disappearance where amateur sleuths share theories and speculation has gained traction in recent weeks.

The group is rife with theories that Ms Caddick still alive and in hiding.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller had previously said officers believed Ms Caddick was still alive however Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing distanced the force from that theory today.

“Given the circumstances of her disappearance, the fact she left personal belongings behind, we have always considered the possibility that she may have taken her own life,” he said.

The manner of Ms Caddick’s death remains the subject of a police investigation.

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Woman admits killing maid; starved her to 24kg and assaulted her almost daily in ‘utterly inhumane’ case


SINGAPORE: Five months into her new maid’s employment, a woman began abusing the domestic helper from Myanmar, punching and stamping on her and starving her until she was only 24kg.

In the days before the 24-year-old victim died of brain injury with severe blunt trauma to her neck, she was starved and tied to a window grille at night and assaulted if she tried to rummage for food from the dustbin.

Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 40, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Feb 23) to 28 charges including culpable homicide, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by starvation, voluntarily causing hurt by a heated substance and wrongful restraint. Another 87 charges will be considered in sentencing.

The prosecution is seeking life imprisonment – but the judge adjourned sentencing to a later date as he considers the case.

SHE CAME TO SINGAPORE FOR HER FIRST OVERSEAS JOB

The court heard that the victim, Myanmar national Piang Ngaih Don, came to Singapore to work for Gaiyathiri in May 2015 in what was her first job overseas as she was poor and needed to support her three-year-old son.

She agreed to Gaiyathiri’s conditions of employment – not to have a handphone or any day off, as Gaiyathiri did not want her to mix with other maids, in return for more pay and home rest.

Gaiyathiri grew unhappy with the victim soon after she began working for the household – which comprised Gaiyathiri, her husband, Gaiyathiri’s mother and co-accused Prema Naraynasamy, Gaiyathiri’s two children and two tenants.

Finding that the victim was slow, unhygienic and ate too much, Gaiyathiri established a strict set of rules that the victim had to obey. Initially, she responded to a breaking of these rules by shouting, but began physically abusing the helper from October 2015.

Closed-circuit television footage from cameras installed in the house to monitor the victim and the children showed the abuse carried out in the last 35 days of the victim’s life.

She was given only little food including sliced bread soaked in water, cold food from the fridge or some rice, and allowed to sleep for about five hours a night. She lost 15kg during her employment, losing about 38 per cent of her body weight in about 14 months. 

She was given no privacy – being forced to shower and go to the toilet with the door open while Gaiyathiri or Prema watched – and wore multiple layers of face masks as Gaiyathiri found her dirty and did not want to look at her face.

Gaiyathiri assaulted the victim almost daily, often several times a day, by slapping, pushing, punching and kicking her. She also stamped on the helper while she was on the floor, and attacked her with objects including a broom, a metal ladle and other hard objects.

She also lifted the helper up by her hair, grabbed it and shook her violently and pulled out a clump of her hair. On one occasion in June 2016, Gaiyathiri approached the victim while she was ironing clothes and pressed the hot iron against her forehead. Before shifting the iron to the victim’s forearm, Gaiyathiri said: “If you like to burn people thing, how would you like if I burn your hand”.

The court was shown multiple clips of the abuse. The victim appeared frail and with her hair tied up in knots that Gaiyathiri would hold onto while flinging her around. She was shown doing her chores, with Gaiyathiri approaching her and assaulting her, throwing her around like a ragdoll. The victim did not retaliate.

During the 12 nights before her death, the victim had her hands tied by a string to a window grille, so that she would not leave the room. She was not given medical treatment for her wounds, and was last taken to a clinic in May 2016 for a runny nose, cough and swelling on her legs.

When the helper removed her face mask and sunglasses in the clinic, the doctor saw bruises around her eye sockets and cheeks, but Gaiyathiri explained these away by saying the victim fell down frequently as she was clumsy.

She turned down the doctor’s suggestions for further tests of the victim’s swollen legs, as there could be underlying conditions.

THE NIGHT OF THE INCIDENT

The assault that led to the victim’s death occurred from the night of Jul 25, 2016 into the morning of Jul 26, 2016.

The helper was doing laundry at about 11.40pm on Jul 25, 2016 when Gaiyathiri felt she was too slow. She hit her with a clenched fist, pulled her hair and told her to move faster. When the victim began swaying on her feet at the entrance to the toilet, Gaiyathiri told her not to “dance”, before striking her head with a detergent bottle.

The victim fell backward, grew disorientated and could not stand up after her legs gave out from under her. Gaiyathiri called Prema over, and together they assaulted the victim, splashing water on her. Prema dragged the victim across the kitchen and living room to the bedroom, where Gaiyathiri kicked her in the stomach and Prema punched and strangled her.

When the victim asked Gaiyathiri if she could have dinner, Gaiyathiri replied that she had given her food earlier but she was too sleepy to eat at that time. She could now sleep without dinner, said Gaiyathiri.

She tied the victim’s wrist forcefully to the window grille just before midnight and kicked her in the stomach, before leaving her on the floor in wet clothes.

Around 5am, Gaiyathiri tried to wake the victim up, but she did not rouse. Angered, Gaiyathiri kicked and stamped on the woman’s head and neck repeatedly, lifted her up by her hair and pulled her head so that her neck extended backwards and strangled her.

Prema was also in the room and tried to wake the victim up. When the woman remained motionless, the two women grew concerned. Their attempts to revive her were futile, but they left her there until 9.22am when Prema propped the victim up and tried to feed her a cup of Nestum cereal beverage while warming her hands and legs.

After Prema suggested they call a doctor as the victim was not moving, Gaiyathiri called the clinic for a house call, lying that she had found the victim on the kitchen floor and believed she had fallen.

When the doctor asked her to call an ambulance as she could arrive only later, Gaiyathiri insisted on waiting. While Prema and Gaiyathiri waited, they changed the victim out of her wet clothes and carried her to the sofa.

When the doctor arrived at about 10.50am, she saw the victim lying on the sofa with a gaping mouth, no pulse, cold skin and fixed and dilated pupils. She told the two women that the victim was dead and asked them to call the police.

PRETENDED TO BE SHOCKED, CLAIMED VICTIM HAD BEEN MOVING

Gaiyathiri and Prema expressed shock and claimed that the victim had been moving minutes before the doctor arrived, and asked if they could call an ambulance instead. The doctor insisted that she would wait for the police to arrive and asked Gaiyathiri if she had fed or beaten the victim, as she was very thin, even thinner than her last clinic visit.

Prema replied that the victim “ate a lot”, and the doctor eventually called the police herself. Paramedics pronounced her dead at 11.30am, while the police asked Gaiyathiri why she had not called for an ambulance. Gaiyathiri replied that the victim’s condition was “not serious” and that she was “only weak”.

An autopsy found 31 recent scars and 47 external injuries on the victim’s body. She had died of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy – a type of brain injury – with severe blunt trauma to the neck. She was emaciated and in a poor nutritional state and would have died of starvation if it had been sustained further.

The doctor found that the repeated choking of the victim had led to the brain injury, and that Gaiyathiri holding the victim by the neck and shaking her like a rag doll is likely to have fractured the victim’s hyoid bone in her throat.

The fracture itself was not fatal, but indicated a very violent blow, and the degree of force could be the tipping point that led to irreversible damage in the brain, with the victim’s poor nutrition compounding her inability to tolerate the neck trauma.

Gaiyathiri was assessed multiple times by psychiatrists, with a 2019 report concluding that she suffered from major depressive disorder and obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), both of which substantially contributed to her offences.

She qualified for the defence of diminished responsibility, with her OCPD a significant risk factor for aggravating the severity of depressive symptoms of peripartum onset. It would have worsened her depression to an extent that partially impaired her mental responsibility for her actions, the court heard.

PROSECUTION SEEKS LIFE IMPRISONMENT

The prosecution, led by Senior Counsel Mohamed Faizal, asked for life imprisonment, saying that this is the only sentence “that would speak to the harms that have been occasioned and the outrage felt by the community by such a shocking series of events”.

He said Gaiyathiri abused, starved, tortured and ultimately killed the 24-year-old helper in a manner that would shock anyone’s conscience.

“Words like heinous, cruel and ‘inhuman’ are often used in submissions like these. But rare is a case where even such hyperbole cannot fully capture the indisputable horror and monstrosity of the crimes by an accused person. This is a case where, simply put, words fail us,” he said.

“That one human being would treat another in this evil and utterly inhumane manner is cause for the righteous anger of the court; and the law must come down with full force to appropriately vindicate the fundamental values of society and human dignity that have been violated in this case.”

Defence lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam asked instead for 14 years’ jail. Mr Sudheesan said “life imprisonment is not necessary”, adding that “anger is for the mob, but sagacity and temperance are for the court”.

He said his client’s story is “quite a tragic one”. She had suffered from postpartum depression from February 2015, which was exacerbated by an abortion she had a year later, and her rationality “was compromised”.

“She is very sorry. She begs this court for mercy and she promises this court that she will continue with all the treatments necessary for her well-being,” said the lawyer.

Parties will return at a later date for sentencing. The penalties for culpable homicide not amounting to murder are life imprisonment and caning, or up to 20 years’ jail, a fine and caning. Women cannot be caned.

Prema’s case is pending, while Gaiyathiri’s husband also faces pending charges for maid abuse.

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CBI at Abhishek Banerjee’s residence to examine his wife in coal pilferage case


A CBI team visited the residence of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee on Tuesday to examine his wife Rujira in the coal pilferage case, officials said. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the residence of her nephew Abhishek in south Kolkata’s Harish Mukherjee Road minutes before the CBI team landed there.

The CBI’s visit to Abhishek’s residence comes after Rujira told the central agency that she will be available for examination between 11 am and 3 pm on February 23, replying to a notice that the sleuths had hand-delivered her on Sunday.

The agency sought the examination of Rujira Banerjee to ascertain the details of her bank transactions, suspecting a connection to the proceeds of the illegal coal excavation money, sources said.

On Monday, the CBI examined Rujira’s sister Menaka Gambhir in connection with the same case.

Two woman officers of the CBI visited Gambhir’s residence off EM Bypass and had examined her for nearly three hours.

The developments come months ahead of the assembly elections in the state with Trinamool Congress alleging it to be a political vendetta.

The CBI on November 28 last year carried out a massive search operation in a number of locations across four states — West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh — after registering a case against one Anup Majhi alias Lala.

It is alleged that Lala, the alleged kingpin of the scam, is involved in illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas, sources said.



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Key Magpie makes successful return, draftee pushes Round 1 case


Collingwood defender Jeremy Howe made a successful return from a serious knee injury in the club’s City v Country intra-club match on Friday night.

Howe got through match simulation unscathed in a big boost for the Magpies ahead of the 2021 season.

The 30-year-old ruptured the posterior cruciate ligament and damaged medial ligaments in his right knee against GWS in Round 4 last season that required season-ending surgery.

Pies draftee Oliver Henry pushed his case for a Round 1 debut with an eye-catching performance in the club’s opening practice match.

Henry, selected with pick No.17 in last year’s draft, booted two first-quarter goals and competed well in the air and on the ground.

Josh Daicos (three goals), Brody Mihocek (three goals) and Brodie Grundy also impressed.





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Dow Jones Futures: Soaring Margin Debt Raises Concern For Market Rally; The Bear Case For Tesla Stock


Dow Jones futures will reopen Sunday evening, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures, after the stock market rally showed resilience last week. The Bitcoin price traded at fresh record highs Saturday.




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Solar IPO Shoals Technologies (SHLS), 5G chipmakers Qorvo and MaxLinear (MXL), Dow Jones giant Microsoft (MSFT) are all near buy points, with SHLS stock and Microsoft already actionable and Apple supplier Qorvo (QRVO) arguably so. We’ll also take a look at Tesla (TSLA), which continues to test key levels.

The Dow Jones actually edged higher last week while the S&P 500 and S&P 500 fell modestly, rallying off short-term support. Growth stocks, especially more speculative names, suffered significant to sharp losses, though they generally rebounded on Friday. Metals, miners and financial stocks were strong performers.

Still, the recent action highlights the need for proper entries and sound sell rules. The problem with such a strong stock market rally is that it’s a bad teacher. Just like an easy A, everyone enjoys easy money. But if you learn the wrong lessons from the past 10 months, then that easy money will go away quickly.

While the Nasdaq is no longer extended, margin debt and investor exposure overall is a growing concern.


Why This IBD Tool Simplifies The Search For Top Stocks


Tesla stock and Microsoft are on IBD Leaderboard. MSFT stock is on IBD Long-Term Leaders. SHLS stock is IBD Stock Of The Day. MXL stock is the focus of a recent IBD Stock Analysis column.

Dow Jones Futures Today

Dow Jones futures will open at 6 p.m. ET Sunday, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures.

Remember that overnight action in Dow futures and elsewhere doesn’t necessarily translate into actual trading in the next regular stock market session.


Join IBD experts as they analyze actionable stocks in the stock market rally on IBD Live.


Coronavirus News

Coronavirus cases worldwide reached 111.64 million. Covid-19 deaths topped 2.47 million.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have hit 28.70 million, with deaths above 509,000. New coronavirus cases in the U.S. have dropped below 100,000 for eight straight days, while hospitalizations and deaths also tumbling. Vaccinations and, soon, warmer weather should start to have a real impact on slowing transmission.

Stock Market Rally Last Week

The stock market rally had a mixed week, with a mini-rotation from growth stocks into cyclicals and financials.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1% in last week’s stock market trading. The S&P 500 index dipped 0.7%. The Nasdaq composite retreated 1.6%, but bounced somewhat from its 21-day exponential moving average.

Growth stocks were roughed up in the middle of the week, but Friday gains helped limit losses overall.

Among the best ETFs, the Innovator IBD 50 ETF (FFTY) dipped 0.6% last week, thanks to a 2.15% pop on Friday. The Innovator IBD Breakout Opportunities ETF (BOUT) edged down 0.2% last week. The iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF (IGV) fell 1.4%. Microsoft stock is the top IGV holding. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) lost 0.3%, with QRVO stock a component.

Losses were heavier in more-speculative names. ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK), which owns Tesla stock and many others, slid 2.5%, even with a 2.3% bounce Friday. ARK Genomics Revolution ETF (ARKG) retreated 4.1% last week, with several key holdings taking big hits.

Bitcoin Price Soars

While speculative stocks struggled a bit, Bitcoin remained hot last week, skyrocketing past $50,000, $52,000 and finally $56,000 on Friday. On Saturday, Bitcoin topped $57,500, before pulling back to below $57,000.

With growing mainstream acceptance of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin has a lot of momentum. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted early Saturday morning that Bitcoin and Ethereum “do seem high lol,” but that follows several positive statements for the cryptocurrency and Tesla buying $1.5 billion worth a a few weeks ago.

While Bitcoin doesn’t have fundamentals per se, investors can still trade it on a technical basis. Bitcoin and Bitcoin-related stocks have been going vertical. A Bitcoin pullback would not be a surprise, even if it’s only temporary.

SHLS Stock

Shoals stock jumped 5.9% last week to 40.17, with nearly all of the gain coming Friday. SHLS stock is now actionable, above an early entry just before 40. The official buy point is 41.86, according to MarketSmith analysis.

The IPO base has a lot of positive qualities. After a brief run-up from the late January IPO debut, SHLS stock corrected just 16%. On Friday, the relative strength line hit a new high with the stock still in the base. That’s especially bullish, giving Shoals stock a blue dot at the end of its RS line on a MarketSmith chart.

Shoals Technologies makes a variety of gear for solar energy systems and components to carry electricity from solar panels to inverters. It’s already profitable, with decent sales growth.

MaxLinear Stock

MaxLinear stock rose 3.3% to 38.33 last week, including a 5.8% jump Friday. That’s just below a 38.81 buy point from a seven-week consolidation. Over the past couple of weeks, up days have come on higher volume than down sessions.

The RS line for MXL stock is near a record high.

The chipmaker delivered huge growth in the latest quarter: Earnings surged 144% on 178% sales growth. 5G businesses are part of the MaxLinear story, but only a portion.

Qorvo Stock

Qorvo stock jumped 4.8% on Friday to 179.39, turning a weekly loss into a 1.9% gain. Friday’s rebound from the 50-day/10-week line also pushed QRVO stock over its 21-day line and up to the edge of a downward-sloping trend line. Investors could buy the Apple iPhone chip supplier here or wait for a little more strength to clear the downtrend.

Qorvo stock is working on a base with a likely 191.93 official buy point. It needs another week for a flat base, though at 15.01% deep it’s a hair too deep to officially qualify. Investors might want to at least start a position off the 10-week line or trend line. QRVO stock has had solid gains over the past few months but has had a tendency to run up and then pull back to the top of the prior consolidation before rebounding again.

While Qorvo stock had a strong week, key customer Apple did not. Apple stock fell 4.1%, finishing 1.9% below its 10-week line.

Microsoft Stock

Microsoft stock fell 1.6% to 240.97. That was just a little too much of a drop to form a three-weeks-tight, though investors could use 246.23 as an add-on entry. MSFT stock is still in range from a 232.96 buy point.

The Dow Jones tech giant has been booming thanks to cloud computing. Microsoft earnings growth has accelerated for the past two quarters. The 17% revenue gain in the last quarter was the best in years.

Tesla Stock

Tesla stock fell 4.3% last week to 781.30. Shares rebounded from the 50-day line on Wednesday — as Ark Funds’ Cathie Wood expressed growing “confidence” in Tesla stock, saying she was buying more shares. But TSLA stock finished the week slightly below the 10-week line.

Earlier this month, this column reviewed the Tesla stock bull case from a technical standpoint. Those conditions all still remain and in some ways have improved. A TSLA stock rebound from the 50-day/10-week line would offer a buying opportunity, but investors might want to wait to see if TSLA stock can reclaim its now-falling 21-day. As Tesla continues to move sideways, a possible downward-sloping trend line becomes less steep. Also, if Tesla does start to bounce back, it’ll soon have a new base.

But what’s the bear case for Tesla stock from a technical standpoint? Well it has been lagging the market in the past few weeks, which is not a big deal so far. Speculative names are facing some pressure, and TSLA has had a mammoth run. Analyst price targets on Tesla stock make heroic assumptions about the company’s sales, self-driving prospects and much more for the next decade.

TSLA stock is hitting resistance at the 21-day line, at least for now.

Keep in mind that the 50-day/10-week line test is a test. A successful test would offer a new buying chance, but a failure could trigger a sell signal.

If TSLA stock falls decisively through 50-day/10-week line, what’s the next support area? Perhaps 695, the price at which Tesla entered the S&P 500 index. Beyond that you’re looking at top of the prior base at about 500. The 200-day line is now about 450, not far from the November breakout buy point of 466.

All of that would be in character for TSLA stock, especially if the market fell into a correction. In the huge run from late 2019, Tesla stock has had some deep bases.

So if investors do buy Tesla stock at or near these levels, price that off the 10-week line and be ready to sell. A decisive break may be a signal for longer-term investors to take some more profits.

Tesla arguably is the most important stock in the market rally. It’s the ultimate story stock, with a huge market cap. Call options helped fuel its 2020 run. Ark Funds is a major Tesla stock investor and champion. The EV maker has even bought $1.5 billion worth of the power-hungry Bitcoin.

If and when Tesla marks a major top, that could trigger or coincide with a big stock market top.

Stock Market Analysis

Last week the Nasdaq had a tame pullback, finding support where you’d expect at the 21-day line. Is the pullback or rotation out of speculative growth over? Friday’s lackluster action, with the Nasdaq closing near session lows, wasn’t inspiring.

If the stock market rally rebounds quickly, how much is there to run? The Nasdaq closed Friday 5.1% above its 50-day line. That’s not extended, but not far from being so once again.

Meanwhile, other indicators continue flash warning signs. Margin debt surged 42% in January vs. a year earlier. That’s the most since late 2007, though still below the 55% annual gain associated with major market tops. However, the rise of leveraged ETFs and skyrocketing use of call options suggest that investor leverage is significantly higher than margin debt alone. Also, margin debt year-over-year comparisons will get easier in February and March, as investors exited during the coronavirus crash.

All of that investor leverage, fueled by Fed policy, stimulus checks and millions of Americans stuck at home in a zero-fee trading era, have helped drive the enormous stock market rally. But if the market has a significant correction, that can spur an big drop in leverage, spurring further selling.

Right now, the stock market rally still looks strong. And over the past 10 months, pullbacks have generally been shallow and short lived. Even the two-month correction last fall was relatively modest for a correction. But at some point the stock market rally will turn into a major correction or bear market. Enjoy this stock market rally, but stay disciplined and prepared for a change in character.

What To Do Now

Great stock market rallies make bad teachers. But at this stage of the rally, investors should follow the rules and do their homework.

Check your individual holdings and overall exposure. Have a game plan for your stocks and stress test your portfolio.

It’s a good idea to check out or rewatch Wednesday’s IBD Live show featuring David Ryan. Ryan stressed the importance of sound bases and the need for sell rules. Ryan also noted the strength in many cyclical stocks and financials.

CAN SLIM investors should focus on leading stocks but it’s a good idea to have a diversity of leadership. Many mining, agricultural and bank stocks have been strong performers in recent months. Having some of those names can help avoid major drawdowns in your portfolio. Having even pilot positions in a variety of top groups will help you stay aware of strength in those areas. That could lead to further buys in those fields, especially if frothy areas of the market face more trouble.

All of this means being prudent and cautiously bullish, not bearish. It is still a strong stock market rally. There are good reasons to be significantly invested.

Read The Big Picture every day to stay in sync with the market direction and leading stocks and sectors.

Please follow Ed Carson on Twitter at @IBD_ECarson for stock market updates and more.

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