Police lay manslaughter charges against mother and acquaintance after child dies in Townsville



Police have arrested and charged two people in relation to the death of a three-year-old girl in Townsville on Friday.

Authorities said early investigations suggest the girl died from heat exposure in a motor vehicle.

The child’s 37-year-old mother and a 30-year-old male acquaintance have been charged with manslaughter.

Detective Senior Sergeant David Miles said the child was left in the car for a considerable period of time.

“We believe the vehicle was left at an address in Burdell early this (Friday) morning,” he said.

“We were advised by the Townsville University Hospital at 2:45pm in relation to what had occurred.”

Detective Miles said there will be a lengthy investigation into the timeline of events leading up to the child’s death.

“The next part of our investigation will be to further identify the movements of all the parties involved and identify … their exact activities,” he said.

“Suffice to say we have been given a fair bit of information up until this point which has been able to assist us with our inquiries going forward.

“We will be looking at the facets in relation to the care of this child, not only today but leading up to these events — which are an unfortunately very preventable and unfortunate tragedy.”

The pair who have been charged are expected to appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court on Saturday.



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Jason Roberts seeks bail on charges over 1998 police murders


Mr Roberts has applied for bail because his retrial is unlikely to begin until the second half of next year.

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Supreme Court Justice David Beach will rule whether Mr Roberts gets bail on Thursday afternoon.

In arguing for Mr Roberts’ bail, barrister Peter Matthews told Justice Beach the original 2002 trial against his client was corrupted by police misconduct and there was now a prospect that the accused man would be found not guilty.

The Court of Appeal based its decision to quash Mr Roberts’ convictions on the evidence of police misconduct, over allegations that some of the officers who were in Moorabbin on the night of August 16, 1998 and comforted the dying Senior Constable Miller had their witness statements revised and backdated, and later gave false and misleading evidence to the court.

Mr Matthews on Thursday said Mr Roberts had been on the wrong end of “a deliberately corrupted trial, corrupted by Victoria Police officers … it was a trial poisoned to its roots”.

He said the Court of Appeal had found the conduct of the police – which was exposed in a probe by the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission – to be “reprehensible”.

Mr Matthews said there was a “constellation” of factors that justified Mr Roberts getting bail, largely based on new evidence that would be put at the second trial.

He said the police misconduct raised doubts over whether Senior Constable Miller referred to two gunmen or one, there were “flaws” in the forensic evidence and that Mr Roberts had an alibi witness who would claim he was not there that night.

Mr Roberts’ then girlfriend – Debs’ daughter – is expected to give evidence claiming he was with her that night. She did not give evidence at the 2002 trial.

Mr Matthews said the factors raised the prospect his client would be found not guilty at trial.

Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller.

“There is a not insubstantial prospect of acquittal in this case,” the barrister told Justice Beach.

He also raised the issue of delay as a factor that would constitute exceptional circumstances, as it could be that Mr Roberts might have to spend another year in custody awaiting retrial.

“If this trial is to be prepared in custody then 12 months is a very long time indeed,” he said.

Prosecutor Ben Ihle, SC, said the exceptional circumstances test had not been met, as the case against Mr Roberts remained “very strong” and the nature of the charges “extremely serious”.

Bandali Debs is led into court in 2002.

Bandali Debs is led into court in 2002.Credit:Simon Schluter

Mr Ihle acknowledged as a “powerful factor” the fact that Mr Roberts had spent 20 years in custody, but said if he was convicted at retrial that amount of time would serve as only a fraction of his eventual sentence. Mr Roberts would be jailed for life if found guilty at retrial.

Mr Ihle said Mr Roberts’ past conduct pointed to his guilt, as he had previously said he never committed a series of armed robberies with Debs, but now admitted he did. He also lied to police and helped conceal Debs’ involvement in the murders.

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The scientific evidence against Debs and Mr Roberts, which showed there were two guns used to shoot the officers, also remained intact, Mr Ihle said.

But Mr Matthews said the use of two guns did not necessarily mean there were two shooters.

Mr Roberts watched the bail application online from Barwon Prison.

Sergeant Silk and Senior Constable Miller were murdered while on a stakeout in Moorabbin after a series of armed robberies in the area.

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Corruption watchdog raids two law firms, lays money laundering charges


Four people connected to two law firms raided by the state’s corruption watchdog are together facing hundreds of money fraud and money laundering charges.

The Crime and Corruption Commission has laid more than 300 charges following the raid on two Brisbane-based law offices, as well as business premises and private dwellings in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, under Operation Mercury.

Three men and a woman are facing dozens of charges each and the raids follow the arrest of another two people earlier this year on drug charges.

The CCC said more charges are pending.

“The major crime investigation, codenamed Operation Mercury, involved a number of search warrants executed at two Brisbane-based law firms and a number of business premises and private dwellings in Brisbane and the Gold Coast throughout the 18-month investigation,” the CCC said in a statement.

“It will be alleged the four people charged on Tuesday were involved in serious fraud offences against a number of financial institutions.

“It will also be alleged those charged laundered the proceeds of serious criminal offences.”

CCC Chair Alan MacSporran QC said the scale of the alleged offending demonstrates why the crime watchdog has a continued focus on the enablers of major and organised crime.

“The CCC has an investigative focus on not just those who directly engage in major crime, but those individuals and groups of people who facilitate and enable it,” he said.

“It is disappointing and concerning, some of the allegations relate to the legal profession,” Mr MacSporran said.

The CCC has laid more than 300 charges, with a 45-year-old Helensvale man facing more than 100 charges alone.

He has been charged with multiple aggravated fraud charges, 89 counts of fraud, seven counts of fraudulent falsification of records and six counts of money laundering.

The CCC said the man is currently before the courts on a separate count of money laundering relating to the seizure of $97,000 in cash in February.

A 37-year-old Helensvale woman is facing one count of aggravated fraud, 76 counts of fraud, three counts of fraudulent falsification of records and three counts of money laundering.

A 36-year-old Helensvale man will have to answer to 12 counts of fraud, two counts of fraudulent falsification of records, one count of money laundering and one count of perjury.

A 42-year-old Ascot man has been charged with six counts of aggravated fraud, 77 counts of fraud, seven counts of fraudulent falsification of records and seven counts of money laundering.

The Ascot man was also accused of money laundering relating to the seizure of $97,000 in cash in February and in September was charged with supplying drugs, the CCC said.

All four people charged yesterday are expected to appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 11.



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OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to criminal charges



FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a shelf at a local pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S. April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

November 24, 2020

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Purdue Pharma LP pleaded guilty to criminal charges over the handling of its addictive prescription painkiller OxyContin, capping a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve an investigation into the drugmaker’s role in the U.S. opioid crisis.

During a court hearing conducted remotely on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in New Jersey, Purdue pleaded guilty to three felonies covering widespread misconduct.

The criminal violations included conspiring to defraud U.S. officials and pay illegal kickbacks to both doctors and an electronic healthcare records vendor, all to help keep medically dubious opioid prescriptions flowing.

(Reporting by Mike Spector in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)





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Right-wing extremist Phillip Galea jailed for 12 years on terror charges


Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said Galea had also begun to produce a 200-page instruction manual he called the “Patriot’s Cookbook” to encourage other extremists to commit acts of violence against “lefties” and Muslims.

She said he later continued to work on the manual while incarcerated.

Galea is lead from a house by police during a terror raid in Ballarat Road Braybrook on August 6, 2016.Credit:Craig Sillitoe

“Although you regard yourself as a patriot that holds mainstream views, it’s clear that the jury found otherwise,” Justice Hollingworth said.

“You’re not being punished for holding radical right-wing views, or for saying things that many people would find deeply offensive. Rather, you’re being punished for the violent means by which you contemplated promoting your beliefs.”

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Justice Hollingworth said Galea, who was a member of both Reclaim Australia and the True Blue Crew, proposed to blow up his targeted buildings during the early hours using Molotov cocktails.

There was also evidence aired during his trial that he told others he believed people may be sleeping inside and he wanted to see them run from the damaged buildings like “burning rats” as he big-noted himself online.

Galea argued the plan was fake and merely designed to “flush out” a police informer within his ranks.

But Justice Hollingworth found that while his plan was amateurish and some parts highly unlikely to succeed, “you believed they would work”.

“You clearly regarded Muslims and people on the left-wing of politics as sub-humans whose lives had no value,” she said.

In December 2019, a jury found Galea guilty of acts in preparation for, or the planning of, a terrorist act and attempting to make a document likely to facilitate a terror attack.

Phillip Galea.

Phillip Galea.Credit: 

They heard Galea wanted to reduce the influence of those perceived to be associated with left-wing ideology, including Muslims.

On Friday, Justice Hollingworth said Galea’s only prior offence for violence was in December 2009 when he was placed on a community-based order for making threats to kill.

She said Galea had spent enormous amounts of time alone, drinking heavily and fuelling his conspiracy theories online throughout his most recent offending.

She accepted this online presence had briefly given the now 36-year-old a sense of purpose and identity and that his diagnosed paranoia and poor emotional response had affected his judgement.

The court heard Galea had also spent most of his four years in custody in solitary confinement due to the nature of his charges and was likely to remain in onerous protective conditions for the foreseeable future.

He must serve at least nine years of his 12-year sentence before being eligible for parole.

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Dylan Walker pleads not guilty to pizza shop assault charges


Two restaurant workers confronted Mr Walker.

It is alleged Mr Walker then became aggressive and assaulted the two men, including punching one in the face, before fleeing.

Mr Walker was arrested nearby a short time later and taken to Manly Police Station.

Nine News obtained CCTV footage from a nearby shop, which appears to show Mr Walker in a red shirt raising his arms as he appears to speak with someone.

He begins to walk away, before turning around and continues talking in what appears to be an aggressive manner. After a few exchanges, Mr Walker walks back in the direction of the person he is speaking to.

Manly have no plans to stand down Mr Walker before more details about the alleged incident become publicly available. Mr Walker has one year left on his contract with the Sea Eagles.

Mr Walker has not been stood down under the NRL’s no fault rule, which is automatically applied for cases with a maximum 11-year sentence, but the NRL integrity unit is investigating the matter.

Mr Walker will next appear in court on January 13.



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US Justice Department charges six Russian military intelligence officers in connection with worldwide cyberattacks




The United States has accused six officers from the Main Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces (the GU, formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) of involvement in a series of large-scale cyberattacks. According to the indictment, these Russian nationals are all officers in Unit 74455, which has been linked repeatedly to hacker attacks in the past, including by Washington. The US Justice Department released the names of the Russian military intelligence officers in question, identifying them as Yuri Andrienko, Sergey Detistov, Pavel Frolov, Anatoly Kovalev, Artem Ochichenko, and Pyotr Paliskin. All six have been charged formally already. The Justice Department noted that one of the accused — Anatoly Kovalev — is also a defendant in the case on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.



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Experts say criminal charges need to follow inquiry


“Justice Brereton’s inquiry has allowed us to scope the problem, see how serious it is, look at the causes of the problem and it will make recommendations to stop it from happening in the future,” Mr James said. “But it won’t necessarily lead to criminal charges in a criminal case until the AFP and the special investigator do so in their succeeding criminal investigations.”

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He said it was important that prosecutions followed the inquiry but it was unlikely that every referral would be pursued by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

“If there have clearly been unlawful killings, there’s going to need to be a criminal investigation of those unlawful killings,” he said. “But the CDPP is not going to prosecute every case because he doesn’t think he can prove it in a jury trial in a court.”

Australian Strategic Policy Institute defence program director Michael Shoebridge said he hoped Justice Brereton’s report provided a strong basis for prosecutions and “those prosecutions clearly are not for issues that can be explained in any way as in the heat of battle”.

“As work moves into the active phase of real prosecutions for unlawful killings, the impact of that on the ADF as an institution and the public impact and impact on current and former serving members of the ADF will be considerably greater,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Acting on the report and taking up the prosecutions it recommends is something as important to every other member of the ADF as it is to the Australian public.”

Mr Morrison on Thursday flagged there would also be consequences for soldiers up the command chain who had “responsibility for the environment in which those Australians served”. There is a growing acknowledgment within defence circles and the government that the special forces were too heavily relied upon during the Afghanistan campaign.

Mr Shoebridge said a clear message from the report would be that “deploying a small number of people repeatedly to a conflict zone has a set of second and third-order consequences that need to be thought through if we were to do it again”.

John Blaxland, professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University, said the SAS was a “national capability of acute significance that has been pushed to the limit and, I think, is more fragile than people realise”.

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“We have an organisation that is very capable, but it’s kind of like a great sportsman who has played too many games and hasn’t had enough breaks and has injuries that need to be healed,” Professor Blaxland said. “It’s really important that the process happens quickly. The special forces is undergoing surgery, the surgery has to take place, be expertly handled and delicately done, but it has to be swiftly undertaken.”

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith will be among the SAS figures referred to the special investigator, special forces sources have confirmed.

Mr Roberts-Smith, who denies wrongdoing and has launched defamation proceedings against The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, this week said he was “hopeful that this next phase will be completed as expeditiously as possible”.

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Experts say criminal charges need to follow inquiry


“Justice Brereton’s inquiry has allowed us to scope the problem, see how serious it is, look at the causes of the problem and it will make recommendations to stop it from happening in the future,” Mr James said. “But it won’t necessarily lead to criminal charges in a criminal case until the AFP and the special investigator do so in their succeeding criminal investigations.”

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He said it was important that prosecutions followed the inquiry but it was unlikely that every referral would be pursued by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

“If there have clearly been unlawful killings, there’s going to need to be a criminal investigation of those unlawful killings,” he said. “But the CDPP is not going to prosecute every case because he doesn’t think he can prove it in a jury trial in a court.”

Australian Strategic Policy Institute defence program director Michael Shoebridge said he hoped Justice Brereton’s report provided a strong basis for prosecutions and “those prosecutions clearly are not for issues that can be explained in any way as in the heat of battle”.

“As work moves into the active phase of real prosecutions for unlawful killings, the impact of that on the ADF as an institution and the public impact and impact on current and former serving members of the ADF will be considerably greater,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Acting on the report and taking up the prosecutions it recommends is something as important to every other member of the ADF as it is to the Australian public.”

Mr Morrison on Thursday flagged there would also be consequences for soldiers up the command chain who had “responsibility for the environment in which those Australians served”. There is a growing acknowledgment within defence circles and the government that the special forces were too heavily relied upon during the Afghanistan campaign.

Mr Shoebridge said a clear message from the report would be that “deploying a small number of people repeatedly to a conflict zone has a set of second and third-order consequences that need to be thought through if we were to do it again”.

John Blaxland, professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University, said the SAS was a “national capability of acute significance that has been pushed to the limit and, I think, is more fragile than people realise”.

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“We have an organisation that is very capable, but it’s kind of like a great sportsman who has played too many games and hasn’t had enough breaks and has injuries that need to be healed,” Professor Blaxland said. “It’s really important that the process happens quickly. The special forces is undergoing surgery, the surgery has to take place, be expertly handled and delicately done, but it has to be swiftly undertaken.”

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith will be among the SAS figures referred to the special investigator, special forces sources have confirmed.

Mr Roberts-Smith, who denies wrongdoing and has launched defamation proceedings against The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, this week said he was “hopeful that this next phase will be completed as expeditiously as possible”.

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Canberra teens face blackmail and robbery charges after allegedly using gay dating app to catfish man


Two teenagers allegedly used the gay dating app Squirt to blackmail a Canberra man into draining his bank account.

Police said the pair — Lachlan Robert Wilson, aged 18, and a 16-year-old boy — met the man on Friday night in Hawker in Canberra’s west and threatened him with a knife.

The pair allegedly forced the man to withdraw about $100 from an ATM and stole other items from his car.

Officers said the teenagers also demanded the man meet them again so they could collect more money.

Court documents reveal the alleged victim was using the male dating site Squirt.org last week, and began exchanging messages with someone who had the name “youngboihorny”.

The user initially said he was 18, before later saying he was 15.

The alleged victim told police he thought he was being set up and wanted to expose the person involved, so he made arrangements to meet.

The victim said when he went to find the address he was given it didn’t exist, and when he turned around he was confronted by two people wearing hoodies and black balaclavas.

He said one was being verbally aggressive, calling him a paedophile, and threatening him with a steak knife.

The man said he was forced to withdraw $100 from an ATM, and made to show the pair that there was only a few more dollars left in his account.

Detective Inspector Matthew Reynolds says blackmail attempts are relatively rare.(ABC News)

He told police the two then said they would contact him in a week to collect a further $200, and if he did not pay they would tell people he was a paedophile.

The man called police, who took over his phone and continued to text the blackmailer, who prosecutors allege was 18-year-old Mr Wilson.

Posing as the alleged victim, the police asked: “How can I make this go away?”

“It won’t be going away for a long time unless I get a fare [sic] share of money,” Mr Wilson is alleged to have replied.

“I know your name, address, ur car details, and videos of you grooming children.”

ACT Policing Detective Inspector Matthew Reynolds said an online investigation identified the pair on Saturday.

Police arrested Mr Wilson in Narrabundah after they located his phone signal. The younger suspect was arrested at Hawker, and both were charged them with armed robbery and blackmail.

In the ACT Children’s Court this morning, Magistrate Robert Cook said Mr Wilson’s sophisticated approach and the way the victim had been lured were of concern.

Magistrate Cook refused Mr Wilson bail, saying there was a risk he might interfere with witnesses or evidence.

Mr Wilson was remanded in custody until December 7, though he indicated he might re-apply for bail.

The 16-year-old was released on bail on strict conditions. His lawyer James Maher told the court he had been led on by an older person, who had driven the offence.

‘Be careful’: Police warn of rendezvous risks

Inspector Reynolds said police had growing concerns about the use of “catfishing” — adopting fake online personas — to lure victims.

“We’re asking people to be careful when they organise to meet people online,” he said.

Inspector Reynolds said police did not often investigate blackmail attempts but suggested Canberrans take precautions when arranging to meet people they did not know.

“We ask people to ensure their own safety,” he said.

“It comes down to individual people taking care of their own safety.”



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