Di Elliott: A champion for veterans and POWs | The Canberra Times

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Dianne Howe, born in 1948, was raised in the country town of Boorowa. After working as a doctor’s receptionist, in 1970 she married local man Paul Elliott. Paul’s work with the Rural Bank took his wife and two children to various country towns, before a final move in 1984 to Canberra. Di, an accomplished golfer, joined the Yowani Country Club, where she played in many inter-club pennant matches and had the distinction of achieving two holes-in-one. However, a serious car accident in Thailand in 1997, which resulted in a broken spine that almost took her life, put an end to her golfing days. After defying medical opinion and learning to walk again, Di entered the most rewarding part of her life – researching Australian prisoners of war in the far east, especially those sent to the Burma-Thai railway, where her father, Sergeant Fred Howe, 2/19 Battalion, had slaved from May 1942 until war’s end. Like so many POWs, Fred had suffered from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder but it was not until almost 20 years after his rather premature death, in 1975, that Di had decided to see if she could understand his often erratic and volatile behaviour. In the process she became an excellent researcher, and a recognised expert on the railway, which she visited several times. She generously shared her vast knowledge with visitors to the Australian War Memorial, where she worked as a volunteer in the research area for 20 years. Apart from providing valuable input into a dozen books on military history, Di also worked tirelessly to correct a large number of errors on the memorial’s honour rolls, and overhauled nominal and other rolls in various unit histories. With her closest friend and research colleague, Lynette Silver, she was consultant to the Honours and Awards Tribunal, providing detailed information on nominees under consideration. Always a champion for the POW community, Di was successful in having several ex-servicemen, who had died after returning home, recognised as official war casualties, which entitled them to a war grave. With Lynette, Di helped expose a number of military frauds, including the notorious Rex Crane, a fake POW who was jailed for defrauding the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars in false pension claims. Her final major piece of research was to do the lion’s share in collating the names of 4,500 nurses who served in World War II – an exacting and tedious task as no list had ever been compiled. The results of her painstaking efforts were published in Lynette’s book Angels of Mercy in 2019. Di died in Canberra on 12 October, exactly one month before her 72nd birthday, from an aggressive and incurable brain cancer. She never said much or even complained about her illness and just soldiered on with whatever treatment was necessary to extend her life. She had set various goals after her diagnosis in July 2019 – 71st birthday, Christmas, her 50th wedding anniversary in January. Despite undergoing intensive treatment, and walking with the aid of a stick, Di accompanied Lynette on February 15, Singapore Day, to lay a wreath on behalf of POWs at the war memorial. This event, and a thrilling helicopter flight over Canberra, were her final outings before her condition worsened. Di did all this and more with the grace of the lady that she was, and forever shall be. Modest and self-effacing, she never sought glory or recognition for herself. Her sole aim was to ensure that the sacrifice and suffering of those who had fought or died for their country were remembered and honoured – a priceless legacy to the nation.


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Benjamin John Elliott found guilty in Busselton murder of Samuel Riley

A man who represented himself in a nearly three-week long murder trial has been found guilty of killing 31-year-old Samuel Riley with an axe in Busselton in 2018.

The Supreme Court trial, presided over by Justice Stephan Hall, heard multiple testimonies from witnesses and forensic experts as well as the accused, Benjamin John Elliott.

Elliot maintained his innocence throughout the trial, including a lengthy closing statement during which he described Mr Riley as his friend.

Family members of Mr Riley hugged in the gallery of Busselton Supreme Court as the guilty verdict was read out by the foreman of the 12-person jury.

The matter was heard in the Busselton Supreme Court(ABC South West: Anthony Pancia)

Elliott remained still, showing little emotion prior to be removed from the courtroom and into custody.

Justice Hall set down a sentencing date of February 5, 2021 in Perth, however made concession for a video link to be broadcast to Busselton on account of Mr Riley’s family who may not have been able to attend.

Opening statements were read on October 21, with the court hearing DNA matching that of Elliott had been found in Mr Riley’s unit prior to his body being found by a carer in October 30, 2018.

The court heard Mr Riley was found with multiple “chop-like” wounds to his head, consistent with those inflicted with a small axe which was later found in a nearby canal.

Elliott had initially told police he hadn’t attended Mr Riley’s unit, but recanted during his opening address, stating that he had lied to police because he didn’t “talk to police.”

However, in his opening address, he admitted to having been at Mr Riley’s and that he had attempted to assist him inject the prescriptive drug, Suboxone.

However he denied any involvement in the murder.

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Adam Elliott video, Bulldogs respond to old clip

Adam Elliott is under investigation by the NRL integrity unit after a video featuring the Bulldogs star began circulating on Thursday.

Canterbury released a statement on Thursday evening confirming the club was aware of the situation.

“The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs would like to confirm that they are aware of a video having surfaced involving Adam Elliott,” the club statement claimed.

“The video relates to something that was filmed at a private gathering five years ago. The club has informed the NRL Integrity Unit of the matter.”

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The old video shows Elliott performing in front of a camera at a private gathering.

He is seen to be partially naked in the video.

There is no suggestion of any illegal behaviour by Elliott.

It comes just days after it was revealed Elliott has hit a stalemate with the Bulldogs in his ongoing contract negotiations.

The Daily Telegraph reported the club is on track to miss out on Elliott’s signature after “low-balling” him with the club’s first reported contract extension offer.

Elliott has been a standout player for the Bulldogs in 2020, but he is now reportedly considering preliminary interest from the Dragons and Raiders as he continues to weigh up his future.

Elliott said last month that his first priority was to remain with the club.

“I‘d jump in front of a train for the club but I’ve got a young family now and it’s that point in my career where I have to make smart decisions, informed decisions. I’m just going to turn up and try and play as good as I can for the Bulldogs and, hopefully, that will sort itself out,” Elliott told Fox League.

Elliott was famously fined $25,000 by the Bulldogs in 2018 after he was spotted dancing nude around teammates during the club’s Mad Monday end of season function at the Harbour View Hotel in The Rocks, Sydney.

He was in 2019 given a good behaviour bond after he pleaded guilty to wilful and obscene exposure following a police investigation into the function.

He was handed a two-year good behaviour bond, but he was not fined and no conviction was recorded.

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